Let me tell you the story about how I came across the Best Coconut Cream Pie ever.
You see, your Boppy (for my readers, this what my girls call their grandfather), used to rave to me about how his sister, your Great Aunt Patricia, used to make him the best Coconut Cream Pie. Your Boppy came from a big family, so when he was just a boy, his oldest sister was married with children of her own and lived just down the road from him. After school, he would rush to her kitchen table for homemade goodness and I suspect, the chance to spend time with his sister, who he adored. You don’t know this now, but someday you will look back on a recipe I made for you and no one, not even the best chef on earth will be able to match that recipe for you. Childhood memories are impossible to beat.
For whatever reason, I wanted to try to recreate the best coconut cream pie for my Dad and searched high and low for recipes. I put down the first attempt in front of your Boppy with a whole lot of smugness. There was no doubt in my mind that this pie would open the floodgates and my pie would replace his sister’s as the best coconut cream pie ever. Make no mistake, he ate the whole thing, but then promptly told me that it was not as good as Patricia’s.
Oh dear, dear children. You know your mother well enough to know what this meant right? Game on.
I tried countless recipes, mixed recipes up and each time he would tell me it just didn’t measure up. I grilled him relentlessly. What was the texture like? What was the crust like? Was the coconut sweetened or unsweetened? Alas, he didn’t have a friggin’ clue because nine year old boys don’t care what’s in a pie, just that it tastes good. I’m not even going to mince words, it was pissing me off.
I was almost ready to admit defeat, when I thought I would give it one last go. I placed the dessert plate in front of him and as soon as he took the first bite, he grinned from ear-to-ear and nodded—this was the one. Then I didn’t make it again for him for a very, very long time. A little because I was sick of making Coconut Cream Pies for heavens sake, and a little because it was my turn for revenge. I admit, sometimes you can be juvenile with your parents even when you’re an adult.
So now you know how to make Boppy’s favourite pie and if he ever tells you it’s not the same as mine, you can tell him he’s full of old rope because I left the recipe right here for you.
The Best Coconut Cream Pie
- Honeymaid Graham Cracker crumbs follow directions on box for a 9 inch pie plate
- 1 cup plus 2 tbsps sweetened medium desiccated coconut
- 2 1/4 cups whole milk
- 1 1/4 tsps unflavoured gelatin
- 6 tbsps sugar
- 3 tbsps cornstarch
- 1 large egg
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 1/2 tbsps unsalted butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- 1 1/2 cups chilled whipping cream
- 2 tbsps powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare graham cracker crust according to package directions. Press crumb mixture firmly into bottom and up sides of 9 inch pie plate. Bake until golden in oven, approximately 10 minutes. Remove and let cool completely.
While pie crust is in the oven, add coconut to dry stainless steel skillet and while continually shaking pan over heat, toast the coconut until lightly browned. Spread evenly on plate and let cool. Set aside 2 tablespoons of toasted coconut for topping.
Place 1/4 cup of the milk in a small bowl and sprinkle gelatin overtop and let stand for 15 minutes.
In a medium saucepan, whisk sugar and cornstarch together. Gradually add another 1/4 cup of milk, whisking until smooth. Add another 1 3/4 cups milk, egg and egg yolks, whisking to blend. Stir in 1 cup of toasted coconut, butter, vanilla, and pinch of salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until filling thickens and boils, about 10 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat and immediately stir in gelatin mixture. Pour filling into a large bowl. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of filling and refrigerate until cool, 30-40 minutes.
Beat 1/2 cup of whipping cream in a medium bowl until soft peaks form; gently fold into cooled filling. Return bowl to fridge for another 30 minutes until set and then transfer to cooled pie crust. Refrigerate pie while preparing topping.
Beat cream and sugar in medium bowl to firm peaks. Spread evenly over top of pie, or use a piping bag. Sprinkle with remaining toasted coconut refrigerate an additional three hours or up to one day. Serve chilled.