Today’s Coconut Cream Pie is the first installment in what I hope will be a long-running series we’re calling Overthinking Classics. Most of the recipes that appear on this blog strive to be different, which is great. But in my day-to-day life, my cravings tend to be rather pedestrian. I have a lot of love for classic dishes and I think about and cook them often. And every time my brain picks them up, I try to improve upon them. They never find their way here, though. I always think they aren’t interesting enough to be blog-worthy fare. But I hope this new series will give a home to all the pearls of wisdom I have accumulated about the dishes we know and love.
As I mentioned, I’m kicking this series off with Coconut Cream Pie because it is my favorite pie. Yes, it’s true. This is the pie I would choose on my death bed. I also chose Coconut Cream Pie because most of the lessons to be learned here can be applied to every pie in the cream pie family. This recipe will teach you the principles of American flakey pastry, how to shape and blind bake a crust, and how to make pastry cream. The pastry cream is particularly useful. It can be used in eclairs, cream puffs, tarts, and doughnuts, so it is definitely worth paying attention to.
This Coconut Cream pie is truly the best version of this pie I’ve ever made. And sure, she doesn’t look particularly elaborate, especially when you compare her to this monstrosity. But pies like this aren’t meant to be showstoppers. They’re meant to give people an immense amount of joy. And you don’t need much more than a mountain of cream and some coconut chips to accomplish that. So let’s break this pie down. The crust is an all-butter American pastry and the filling is a coconut milk pastry cream, no extract here. The pie’s only garnishes are an unrestrained mountain of unsweetened cream and coconut chips. And if you haven’t tried coconut chips, you’re in for a treat.
So check out the video and recipe below for everything you could possibly want or need to know about Coconut Cream Pie. And if you want to stay up to do date with the Overthinking Classics series, consider subscribing to my YouTube channel.
Coconut Cream Pie
- 9" Pie Plate
- pie weights or a bag of dried beans
- a small saucepan
- stand mixer or hand mixer
- ½ cup + 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ cup ice water
- 1 egg yolk
- raw sugar for sprinkling
Creamy Coconut Filling
- 1½ cups full-fat coconut milk
- ½ cup whole milk
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 5 egg yolks
- 3 tbsp cornstarch
- 4 tbsp cold unsalted butter cut into cubes
- 1 ¼ cup heavy cream
- 1-2 tbsp granulated sugar optional
- coconut chips for serving
- Stick the butter in the freezer and leave it there for 20 minutes. While the butter is chilling, place the flour in a large bowl. Add the sugar and salt and whisk to combine.
- Retrieve your butter from the freezer and shred it on a cheese grater. Add the butter to the flour mixture and lightly toss it to ensure it’s evenly coated. Pick your way through the mixture and press each bit of butter between your thumbs and index finger and sort of roll it away from ourselves. You’re creating almost leaf-shaped bits of butter. (See Note 1)
- Now add the ice water but only add as much as you need to get the dough to come together. The dough will look like a shaggy mess that’s barely held together, so don’t push past that point. Turn the dough onto the counter and briefly knead the dough together.
- Once the dough comes together enough to form a ball, you’re done. Stop touching it. Wrap it to a piece of parchment paper and flatten it into a disc. Transfer the dough to the fridge and let chill for 1 hour. (See Note 2)
- Once the dough has thoroughly chilled, it’s time to roll it out. Place the pastry disc on a well-floured surface. Start by pressing the pastry with your rolling pin making evenly indents along the length of the dough. Rotate the dough and repeat the process to create a sort of crosshatch pattern. (See Note 3)
- Once the dough is in the pie plate, make sure to press it into the edges of the plate. Trim off the excess, but still, leave a good amount of overhang. Crimp the edges. Once you’re happy with your pastry, transfer it to the fridge and chill for 1 hour once again. This is a good time to start preheating your oven to 425°F.
- When the dough is chilled, prick it all over with a fork. Place parchment paper in the center of the dough and fill with dried beans. These will act as weights to help keep the shell from warping and shrinking.
- Pop the pastry in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Lightly beat the egg yolk and set it aside. When the 15 minutes are up, take the pastry out of the oven and remove the pie weights and parchment paper.
- Brush the interior of the pastry with the egg yolk. Sprinkle the shell with a little raw sugar and pop the pastry shell back in the oven and bake for another 15 minutes or until crisp and golden. Take the pastry out of the oven and place it on a cooling wrack. Set aside to cool.
For the Filling
- Pour the coconut milk into a small saucepan. Add the whole milk, granulated sugar, and kosher salt. Whisk to combine and place over medium-low heat and bring to a gentle simmer.
- In a large bowl, whisk to combine the cornstarch and egg yolks. Whisk until fully integrated and no lumps remain. While whisking constantly, pour 2 ladles-worth of the hot coconut mixture into the yolks to temper the eggs.
- Pour the egg yolk mixture into the saucepan and heat over medium until the mixture thickens and becomes glossy. Be sure to stir constantly throughout the cooking process to avoid sticking. Take the finished cream off of the heat and immediately add the cold unsalted butter. Stir until the butter melts and is fully integrated.
- Pour the coconut filling into the slightly cooled pie shell and cover with plastic wrap. Push the wrap right up to the surface of the filling. This will keep it from forming a skin. Transfer the pie to the fridge and chill for a minimum of 3 hours.
- Pour the heavy cream into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Crank the speed up to high and whip the cream until soft peaks form. I kept my cream unsweetened but if you would like to add sugar, slowly stream it in while the cream is whipping.
- Pile the cream onto the chilled pie and decorate the surface with a few swoops of an offset spatula. Finish the pie with coconut chips and either serve immediately or chill until ready to serve.