Today I am sharing my recipe for Coconut Cream Pie, and by far, this pie was the one that took the longest to get just right. Coconut can be tricky, and coconut is a divisive flavoring among people.
Are you a coconut person? Some people (like my husband) cannot get enough coconut. Some people (like my friend Kristen) can’t stomach one bite. And some people (like me) enjoy coconut as long as it doesn’t taste like the suntan lotion I remember using in middle school. (Anyone else recall the days of Banana Boat and Sun-In?)
I have discovered the best way to amp up the flavor of coconut is to use both vanilla extract and almond extract. The combination of vanilla and almond enhances the flavor of coconut without making it taste soapy or beachy. You won’t notice the almond, but you’ll be glad you added it.
In my recipe for Coconut Cream Pie, the coconut flavor comes from sweetened shredded coconut, a can of coconut milk (don’t substitute the coconut milk from the dairy aisle), and a sprinkling of toasted coconut on the finished pie.
The animal cracker press-in crust provides a nice neutral backdrop for the filling, but I have found Nilla Wafers make a lovely crust for this pie as well.
If you love Coconut Cream Pie (or know someone who does), this recipe will deliver a cold, creamy wallop of perfectly balanced coconut flavor without a hint of suntan lotion!
Coconut Cream Pie
for the crust…
- 1 1/2 cups finely ground animal cracker cookie crumbs 6 ounces
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 4 tablespoons 1/4 cup, 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
for the filling…
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 can 13.5 oz coconut milk
- 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar plus 2 tablespoons
- pinch Kosher salt
- 5 egg yolks
- 4 tablespoons corn starch
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut lightly toasted
- Preheat the oven to 325.
- In a medium bowl, combine the cookie crumbs, granulated sugar, and melted butter, stirring until evenly mixed. Press the crumb mixture into the bottom and up the sides of your desired pie or tart pan.
- Bake the crust for 10 to 15 minutes, or until just beginning to turn golden brown on the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool while you prepare the filling.
- To make the filling, heat the milk, coconut milk, shredded coconut,1/2 cup sugar, and the Kosher salt over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Pay attention to the milk as it heats. You want it to be steaming, and just on the verge of simmering, but not actively boiling or bubbling.
- While the milk mixture heats, combine the remaining 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, the egg yolks, and the cornstarch in a medium bowl. Very gently combine with a whisk until the cornstarch is incorporated, then whisk vigorously for at least 1 minute until the mixture is pale yellow and expanded in volume.
- Once the milk mixture is steaming, add one ladle of milk to the egg yolk mixture, and stir to combine. Repeat this two more times, until about half of the hot milk mixture has been added to the eggs.
- Pour the now-warm egg yolk mixture back into the pot with the remaining milk, and begin to whisk constantly. At this point, you are looking for a bubble to burst on the surface, the first sign that the mixture has reached its thickening point, but you really must keep whisking to prevent the bottom from scalding. Take a three second break to look for bubbles, and then continue whisking.
- Once you see a bubble burst on the surface, set a timer (or count in your head) for one minute. Whisk constantly during this minute! Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the butter, vanilla, and almond extract continuing to whisk until the butter is completely incorporated.
- Pour the hot pastry cream into the prepared crust, smooth it out evenly, and then top with a sheet of plastic wrap directly touching the filling. Refrigerate until firm, at least four hours, or up to two days.
- To make the whipped cream, combine the heavy cream, confectioner’s sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Mix on medium speed to carefully incorporate the sugar, then switch to high speed and whisk until stiff peaks form.
- Slather the whipped cream on top of the chilled coconut cream pie, sprinkle with toasted coconut, slice, and enjoy!