This is the world’s best coconut cream pie recipe ever. I’ve perfected this recipe over the past decade until it’s become my most-requested pie. It’s unreal. And I’m spilling the secrets to you.
I love coconut cream pie, but I get frustrated with the overly-sweet, stringy, and fake tasting pies that people kept trying to pass off. Some horrible people even put almond extract in their coconut pies–and you need to stop that, it’s over the line. Shut that down.
I decided to make my own recipe with tons of real coconut flavor, without all the pitfalls, and that starts with coconut milk instead of dairy milk.
The coconut milk adds a subtle, true coconut flavor that helps you avoid the fake coconut taste that ruins too many pies. (Make sure it’s coconut milk and not cream of coconut.) The milk and coconut solids usually separate while in the can, so you’ll need to whisk it together before adding it to the recipe. Some people might use all coconut milk, but I find that some dairy milk adds a balance of taste and flavor.
My second secret? Using finely shredded unsweetened coconut instead of the regular sugared, flaked kind. I find mine at natural food stores or at grocers with great bulk sections, like Winco. It’s unsweetened and more finely cut, avoiding a hallmark of inferior coconut pies: stringy coconut. You can use regular flaked coconut, but try putting it through the food processor to break it up, and then reduce the amount of sugar in the pie.
Cooling the custard properly before pouring it in the blind-baked crust will help it retain a crisp shell. Don’t chill it all the way to set, you want it barely warm, yet still pourable, when you put it in the crust. Did I use the snow on my back porch to help cool the custard? You bet I did.
I was able to cut the chill time of the pie by an hour by cooling the custard in the snow! (Then again, I had to stir it the whole time so it wouldn’t get a skin, so I probably didn’t save much.) You can just cover it with plastic wrap and let it cool down for 30 minutes or so.
Sometimes, I will even put a tablespoon or two of the unsweetened coconut into the pie crust; it’s your pie, you do what you want.
Carina’s Best Coconut Cream Pie Recipe
Coconut Custard Filling:
4 egg yolks
1/3 c. plus 2 tsp cornstarch
3 cups of whole milk (1 can of coconut milk + enough milk to equal 3 cups)
3/4 c sugar, plus 1 TBL
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
2 TBL butter
1 c shredded coconut*
1 baked pie shell, 9 or 10″ (I use the Cook’s Illustrated Perfect Pie Crust recipe, the one with vodka.)
1/2 cup toasted coconut
1.5 cups whipping cream
1/3 c sugar
3/4 tsp unflavored gelatin (opt)
*I prefer unsweetened, finely ground coconut, but if all you have is sweetened flaked, cut the sugar to a 1/2 cup. I like to process the coconut in a food processor so that it’s fine instead of stringy.
Whisk the yolks in a bowl, set aside. Stir cornstarch, sugar, salt together in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the milk carefully to avoid lumps. Cook, stirring constantly over medium heat. Let it boil one minute, then add half the filling into the yolks, whisking to temper the yolks. Add the mixture back into the pan and cook over heat, boiling for another minute. Remove from heat. Add vanilla, butter, and coconut. Cool the filling slightly (about 30 minutes) and pour into a baked pie shell. Cover custard with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours until set.
To toast coconut: spread sweetened, flaked coconut over a cookie sheet and put into a 400 degree oven. Stir occasionally and shake around until coconut is golden brown. Don’t walk away (I’ve burned many, many sheets of coconut walking away.) Cool before using as a topping.
Beat the cream and sugar together until whipped to soft peaks, spread over the pie. Sprinkle with toasted coconut.
–If you want to keep the pie for a couple days, it’s best to stabilize your whipping cream before you beat it. Sprinkle the gelatin over 2 tablespoons of cold cream. Allow it to bloom (just hang out for about 5 minutes) and then nuke the mixture for about 20 seconds (watch it closely!) to melt the gelatin and cream together. Stir with a fork until combined, warming it as needed until melted. Add the mixture in a slow stream into the rest of the whipping cream, and finish beating the cream to soft peaks.
Look! I saved the last bite for you!
World’s best coconut cream pie recipe ever? I think so.
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