My Aunt Lu made the best coconut cream pies. My mother made an amazing one as well and if I do say so myself my efforts for a from scratch coconut cream pie were also stellar though they never equaled my Aunt Lu’s. It might be that one of her secrets was making her pie dough with lard. My mother and I used butter and shortening. I think that made the difference in mouth feel as well as taste.
A lot of effort goes into making a proper coconut cream pie. A great coconut cream depends on getting the custard just right. Custard from scratch requires a lot of stirring, temperature control and it is time consuming. It requires patience and concentration and a good eye to know when the custard is right. You need to know what to look for. It’s not really difficult but you do need to pay attention and focus on the task at hand.
A few years ago we were having company over for dinner and I thought the menu just begged for a coconut cream pie for dessert, but time was not on my side for making one from scratch and so I improvised. That was the day the Great Almost Proper Coconut Cream Pie was born and that’s the way I have made it ever since. So far I haven’t gotten any complaints and I’m sure Sandra Lee would approve and Anthony Bourdain would despise it.
I had on hand ready made pie crust, instant vanilla pudding, coconut milk, milk, sweetened coconut, unsweetened coconut and heavy whipping cream that was originally intended for another dessert. All in all, start to finish it took about 30 minutes with most of that time waiting for the pie crust to bake and cool.
So.. if you find yourself in need for a fast dessert for company or for your family or just for yourself this is how to make the Great Almost Proper Coconut Cream Pie
About 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes spread out in a frying pan carefully toasted in a 350 degree oven. Five to seven minutes. Watch it it can burn easily.
1 9″ blind baked pie crust cooled. (If using a ready made one I like the one from Trader Joe’s in the frozen food section)
2 (3.5 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding mix (regular or sugar free)
1 1/4 c. milk (any kind but 1% or fat free)
1 1/2 c. coconut milk
1 1/2 c sweetened coconut
1/2 pint heavy whipping cream
Put the pudding mix in a bowl add the milks and beat until smooth. Fold in the sweetened coconut. Pour into the pie shell and refrigerate about 10 minutes. This stuff sets up quickly. Beat the whipping cream and sweeten it to your taste. Spoon the whipped cream on top of the coconut custard and sprinkle the toasted coconut on top. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve. That’s it.
Yes you should know how to make a proper pie crust and a proper custard. You should take the time and focus on the task at hand needed to making each element just so. If possible you should have children by your side to help and observe and taste the custard remains from the pot. You should share the great experience of real food from scratch cooking. But if time does not permit you can still share and come up with a pretty good reasonable facsimile there off.