Calling all coconut lovers! This next recipe is for coconut enthusiasts only. It’s a Triple Coconut Cream pie topped with toasted coconut flakes and curls of white chocolate. I just drooled typing that. I wasn’t always a coconut fan. Growing up, those Almond Joys and Mounds chocolate bars were always my least favorite candy to get on Halloween…..well, besides those weird orange and black wrapped taffies. Who the heck thought those were a good idea?! Ick! Anyways, my taste buds have changed. They say taste buds change every seven years and I hope my liking for coconut doesn’t go away anytime soon.
My husband loves Seattle and always says he can’t wait to take me the next time we are back in the US. When you think about Seattle and food, usually one person comes to mind: Tom Douglas. He basically owns that town. We’ve had his cookbook, Tom Douglas’ Seattle Kitchen, sitting on our bookshelf for the longest time without having any the delicious recipes from that book grace our tables. To be honest, I was intimated by it initially since it’s text heavy with minimal food porn photos throughout. Like a 4 year old, I need photos to keep me engaged. A few days ago I decided to dive in head first to try to recreate one of Tom Douglas’s famous desserts, the Triple Coconut Cream pie. I made a few adjustments to simplify the steps a bit as I will note below. But it still turned out gorgeous.
I hope one day to try the real thing in Seattle. For now, I don’t think any other pie could be as tasty or decadent as this one. Don’t be intimidated by the text. If you don’t necessarily have a love affair with coconut but only like the flavor of coconut then I would suggest only using 1 cup of sweetened shredded coconut instead of 2 for the pastry cream and adding a bit less coconut garnish on top. This pie is the epitome of summer time cookouts with family and friends, so get to mixing!
Triple Coconut Cream Pie:
Adapted from Tom Douglas’ Seattle Kitchen cookbook
– Makes one 9 – inch pie; 6 to 8 servings
FOR THE COCONUT PASTRY CREAM:
2 cups milk
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste
2 large eggs
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
FOR THE CRUST:
1 package graham crackers (about 10 large crackers)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
FOR THE PIE:
2 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
FOR THE GARNISH:
2 ounces unsweetened “chip” or large-shred coconut (about 1 1/2 cups)
4 ounces of white baking chocolate to make about 2 ounces of curls
1. To make the pastry cream, combine the milk, coconut and vanilla bean paste in a medium saucepan. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat and stir occasionally until the mixture almost comes to a boil.
2. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and flour until well combined. Temper the eggs (to keep them from scrambling) by pouring a small amount (about 1/3 cup) of the scaled milk into the egg mixture while whisking. Then add the warmed egg mixture to the sauce pan of milk and coconut. Whisk over medium-high heat until the pastry cream thickens and begins to bubble. Keep whisking until the mixture is very thick, 4 to 5 minutes more. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add the butter and whisk until it melts. Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl and place it over a bowl of ice water. Stir occasionally until it is cool. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a crust from forming and refrigerate until completely cold. The pastry cream will thicken as it cools.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a food processor, process the package of graham crackers. Add the salt, sugar and shredded coconut. Pulse until the shredded coconut is mixed in and chopped up. Add the melted butter and continue pulsing until mixed thoroughly. (Note: if you don’t have a processor, you can crumble the graham crackers up in a ziplock bag and roll a rolling pin over it until it’s broken up and then mix it with the other ingredients in a bowl) Pour the graham cracker coconut mixture into a 9-inch pie pan. Using the bottom of a measuring cup press gently and smooth the graham cracker mixture to the bottom and sides of the pie pan to form a tight crust. To set, bake for 7-10 minutes in the oven or until golden brown.
4. When the pastry cream is cold fill the prebaked pie shell with it, smoothing the surface. In an electric mixer with the whisk, whip the heavy cream with the sugar and vanilla on medium speed. Gradually increase the speed to high and whip to peaks that are firm enough to hold their shape. I find putting my bowl and whisk in the freezer for a while helps get the cream to a whipped state easier. Fill a pastry bag or cut the corner of a gallon ziplock bag fitted with a star tip with the whipped cream and pipe it all over the surface of the pie, or spoon it over.
5. For the garnish, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the coconut chips on a baking sheet and toast in the oven, watching carefully and stirring once or twice, since coconut burns easily, until lightly browned. Use a vegetable peeler to scrape about 2 ounces of the white chocolate into curls.
*Note: If not serving immediately, keep the pie refrigerated, covered with plastic wrap. The finished pie should be consumed within a day as the crust gets soggy. Prepare the garnishes just before serving. The coconut pastry cream can be made a day ahead and stored chilled in the refrigerator covered with plastic wrap as described above. Fill the pie shell and top it with whipped cream and garnishes when you are ready to serve the pie.