Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Elizabeth's January Pie: Coconut Cream

Another great ATK pie!

The funny thing about using Cook’s Illustrated/America’s Test Kitchen is the changes (improvements?) that happen to the recipes over time. I initially chose my recipe from The Dessert Bible, by Christopher Kimball / Cook’s Illustrated. I went out and bought all of the ingredients for that preparation. Then I came home and looked up the coconut cream pie recipe in my America’s Test Kitchen cookbook, and in that recipe they essentially made fun of the type of recipe Chris Kimball had published only a few years earlier out of the same kitchen! Take that, bow tie man! (ATK's argument is that coconut cream pie shouldn’t be a vanilla cream pie with a little bit of coconut sprinkled throughout. Agreed.)

When I looked the recipe up online at the Cook’s Illustrated website, I found yet ANOTHER variation on the same pie but the date on the recipe was the same as the television air date from the pie in my ATK cookbook (there is no way you are following me on this…). I’m assuming that they keep the same air date to help people find the recipe, but they make changes here and there to the recipes as they think of new and yummier tweaks.

The moral of the story is this: you don’t need to by a single Cook’s Illustrated/ATK cookbook, you just need to keep your online subscription current! Look up the recipes there, and save yourselves the trouble.

Now, back to the recipe!

Everything went smoothly, and it was a very easy pie to make. In the future I may use graham cracker crumbs instead of animal crackers in the crust, just because they were expensive and not “YOWZA” impressive. I took this to my book club, and friends there said it was the best coconut cream pie they’d ever tasted, including one friend who ALWAYS orders coconut cream because it’s her favorite. Nice!

Unsweetened coconut was a little hard to find. I could only find lowfat organic unsweetened coconut in the health foods area of my grocery store. I was worried about the lowfat part but it worked just fine.

All in all: ENORMOUSLY TASTY. (I'll post a photo when I can finally locate my camera.)

Coconut Cream Pie

Recipe courtesy CooksIllustrated.com
Published: May 1, 2004
Makes one 9-inch pie, serving 8 to 10
Light coconut milk lacks rich coconut flavor, so skip it in favor of regular coconut milk.

6 ounces animal crackers
2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted and cooled


14 ounces coconut milk (1 can)
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3/8 teaspoon table salt
5 large egg yolks
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons unsalted butter , cut into 2 pieces
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whipped cream and garnish

1 1/2 cups heavy cream (cold)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon unsweetened shredded coconut , toasted in a small dry skillet until golden brown

1. For the crust: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. In food processor, pulse animal crackers, coconut, and sugar to fine crumbs, eighteen to twenty 1-second pulses; then process until powdery, about 5 seconds. Transfer crumbs to medium bowl and add butter; stir to combine until crumbs are evenly moistened. Empty crumbs into 9-inch glass pie plate; using bottom of ramekin or 1/2 cup dry measuring cup, press crumbs evenly into bottom and up sides of pie plate. Bake until fragrant and medium brown, about 15 minutes, rotating pie shell halfway through baking time. Set on wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

2. For the filling:
Bring coconut milk, whole milk, shredded coconut, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt to simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to ensure that sugar dissolves. Following illustrations 1 through 6, whisk yolks, cornstarch, and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in medium bowl until thoroughly combined. Whisking constantly, gradually ladle about 1 cup hot milk mixture over yolk mixture; whisk well to combine. Whisking constantly, gradually add remaining milk mixture to yolk mixture in 3 or 4 additions; whisk well to combine. Return mixture to saucepan and cook until thickened and mixture reaches boil, whisking constantly, about 1 minute; filling must boil in order to fully thicken. (To determine whether filling has reached boil, stop whisking; large bubbles should quickly burst on surface.) Off heat, whisk in butter and vanilla until butter is fully incorporated. Pour hot filling into cooled pie shell and smooth surface with rubber spatula; press plastic wrap directly against surface of filling and refrigerate until firm, at least 3 hours and up to 12 hours.

3. For the whipped cream:
Just before serving, beat cream, sugar, and vanilla with electric mixer until soft peaks form, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Top pie with whipped cream and then sprinkle with coconut. Cut pie into wedges and serve.


ferskner said...

Hooray! This pie sounds delightful. I've never been a huge fan of coconut cream...but now that I think about it, I don't have anything against it, either. I just always pick other things. BUT, since I've been so interested in old-fashioned desserts lately - and nothing seems more old-fashioned than coconut! I should finally give some attention to this dessert.

Who do you have more of a creepy crush on: Christopher Kimball or Rick Steves?

Elizabeth said...

Ack! I could never have a creepy crush on either of them! If I HAD to choose one, I'd pick Rick Steves (shudder) because Christopher Kimball really does freak me out. I admire him, but he freaks me out. Not the way he looks or anything (although the facial tick might have something to do with it) but I have never liked his personality. I could never even have a TV crush on him.

Now excuse me, I have to go make out with my pillow while thinking of Rick Steves (double shudder).

Elizabeth said...

Now post your February pie, Ann!! Then I'll post mine. That way they'll alternate. VERY important.