When I got my first apartment, one of the things I took from home was my dad’s Betty Crocker cookbook because at that time – oh so many moons ago – it was THE quintessential cookbook. Now, even though great recipes are literally at our fingertips, I still use it. (You can tell from the sad condition that it’s in.) In fact, I used it just the other day when I made He Who Must Be Fed a coconut cream pie.
But before I get started on the recipe, I need to ask you: Do you want to make good coconut cream pie or unforgettable coconut cream pie? Perhaps that’s a rhetorical question. Who wants to make good when you can make unforgettable? If so, then you need to know one secret: You have to toast some of the coconut first. It adds an intensity and richness to the pie that plain white coconut can’t.
Preheat your oven to 350°. Place ½ cup coconut in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until it’s nicely browned. Keep an eye on it. Once it starts to brown, it’ll brown quickly. You want it brown, not black.
Ingredients for a 9-inch pie:
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 cups milk
- 3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1½ teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup coconut ( ½ cup browned, ½ cup pearly white)
Mix sugar, cornstarch and salt in a medium-sized saucepan. Gradually whisk in the milk. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens and boils. Boil one minute. Remove from the heat. Gradually – and I do mean gradually or you’ll end up with scrambled eggs — stir at least half of the hot mixture into your egg yolks. I do it a spoonful at a time. Then add that to the hot mixture in your saucepan.
Boil one minute more, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Blend in butter, vanilla and coconut. Pour immediately into a baked pie shell. Top with meringue.
Ingredients for your meringue:
- 3 egg whites
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 6 tablespoons sugar
Heat over to 4oo°. Beat your egg whites with the cream of tartar until frothy. Gradually add the sugar, a little at a time. Continue beating until stiff and glossy. Pile the meringue on top of your pie. Make sure you seal your edges. If you want to make it look super fancy, swirl the meringue around a bit for a decorative top. Bake 8 to 10 minutes until nicely browned. Remove from the oven and keep away from any drafts.
Now THAT is coconut cream pie. I hope you like it.