It’s Pi Day, Pi Day, gotta eat pie on pi day… Try singing that to the tune of Rebecca Black’s “It’s Friday” song. That’s what has been stuck in my head all day. You’re welcome. Let’s celebrate.
I know it’s really about the number pi, but since it’s 3/14 and the first three digits of pi are 3.14… I say that’s excuse enough. Besides, you can’t eat the number pi and so many other bloggers and people celebrate today by eating pie. Because again, why not? All I knew was that I definitely wanted to celebrate this year, especially given my love for math. (and pi. and pie..)
I was a math geek in high school. It was always my best subject, even though I considered myself to be more of an English person (and I went on to major in psychology and theater). For a long time, I actually thought about becoming a math teacher. There was something I loved about math. The calculations, that there was always a right answer, a series of steps to get you there, and I understood it. I think that’s why I love baking so much. It’s just one big long equation.
Considering I made my first pie for Thanksgiving, I’ve never actually celebrated Pi Day with an actual pie. Which, let me tell you, is a real shame. You know I love any excuse to eat, especially when desserts are involved. So this year, I made sure to pick out a recipe and get my ingredients a few days ahead of time so that there would be no excuses. It was hard deciding though! Did I want to do something with fruit? No. Did I want to do a cookie pie, a chocolate silk pie, a coconut cream pie, a grasshopper pie so I could combine Pi day and St Patrick’s Day? I scrolled through all of my favorite bloggers, trying to find a recipe that stuck out to me. I wanted something sweet, refreshing, and a recipe that used methods I haven’t used yet in the kitchen.
When I found Annie’s Eats recipe for Coconut Cream pie, I was sold. One of my favorite desserts at the restaurant I work at is a coconut cream tart. The coconut cream, the meringue.. so delicious. This recipe doesn’t have a meringue topping (since I don’t own a kitchen torch yet) and I liked that Annie used whipped cream instead. Nice and light, that you don’t notice how many slices and slivers you’ve had..
Now this pie. I used a half batch of the pie crust I made for Thanksgiving, keeping the sugar amount the same. I followed Annie’s and Martha Stewart’s suggestions for brushing a thin layer of chocolate to prevent the crust from getting soggy when the custard sets. Because when is adding chocolate EVER a bad thing? I’ve never made a custard before and was worried about adding hot liquid to egg yolks but it led to a deliciously smooth, creamy yet light flavored custard. I did use light coconut milk, because that’s what I had on hand, though regular coconut milk I’m sure would be even better. The light homemade sweetened whipped cream adding a great light, fresh taste and the toasted coconut added just enough crunch on top.
I’ve already had a few slices, so let’s eat. You all need to catch up.
Coconut Cream Pie
makes 1 9-inch pie
For the Pie Crust:
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold
1/4 cup – 1/3 cup ice water
For the Pie:
1 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted
4 large egg yolks
3 cups unsweetened coconut milk*
2/3 cup granulated sugar
5 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
For the Topping:
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 coconut flakes, toasted
For the Pie Crust: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Cut cold butter into large chunks and toss into bowl. Use a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the dough, until the chunks of butter are the size of peas. Add 1/4 cup water, stirring the dough together. If more water is needed, add 1 tablespoon at a time until the dough just comes together. Knead dough into a ball and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes, or over night.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Roll dough out on lightly floured surface. Roll into a 12-inch circle and place in the 9-inch pie plate. Trim away any excess or create decorative edges. Prick the bottom and sides of crust with a fork. Line pie crust with aluminum foil and fill with pie weights (or dried beans). Bake for 15-18 minutes. Remove from oven and take off foil and weights/beans. Return to oven and bake for 5-10 minutes more, or until a light golden brown color. Transfer dish to a wire cooling rack and let cool completely.
For the Pie: Once the crust has cooled completely, brush a thin coat of the melted chocolate over the inside of the crust. (This will prevent crust from getting soggy). Chill about 10-15 minutes, or until chocolate sets.
In a medium sized bowl, add egg yolks and lightly whisk together. Set aside. In a saucepan, add coconut milk, sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Whisk together and heat mixture over medium heat until it just reaches a simmer. Carefully and slowly add a little bit of the liquid to the bowl with the egg yolks, while whisking constantly to prevent eggs from scrambling. Continue adding liquid (and whisking) until about half the coconut mixture has been added. Pour the coconut and egg mixture back into the original sauce pan, whisking everything back together. Continue whisking as mixtures heats, until it thickens and starts to bubble. It should have a consistency like pudding. Remove from heat. Strain through a fine mesh sieve (or a thin strainer) to remove any chunks and then pour into prepared pie crust. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the plastic down directly on top of the custard (so a skin doesn’t form). Refrigerate for at least 4 hours (or overnight) until well set.
In a medium sized mixing bowl, beat heavy cream and powdered sugar until medium stiffs form. Add vanilla and mix in. Careful not to over-beat the cream. Remove pie from fridge and take off plastic wrap. Smooth whipped cream over the top and then sprinkle top with toasted coconut. Serve and enjoy.
Note: I used light coconut milk, though you should probably use regular. I just only had light milk on hand.
That may or may not have been my third slice of the day…