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Martha's Coconut Cream Pie

MyCookbook Recipe Database
MyCookbook Member: MarthasArchive
Recipe Category: Dessert
Recipe Preparation Level: easy
    The flesh of a coconut is distinctive in taste and aroma, and the flavor is enhanced when it is coupled with a sweetener. Not coincidentally is coconut often used in desserts and confections. One of the best uses for coconut comes from the American South, a region whose cuisine has long included a variety of pies both savory and sweet. Coconut-cream pie, a spin-off of custard-cream pie, is a traditional Southern favorite that has moved far beyond the lower regions of the country to a wider spread appreciation. This recipe is Martha’s version of the classic dessert.

    Serves 12

    1 large whole egg, lightly beaten, plus 4 large egg yolks, plus 7 large egg whites
    All-purpose flour, for rolling out dough
    1/2 recipe Piecrust (recipe follows)
    1 1/4 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
    1/4 cup cornstarch
    1 1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    2 1/4 cups milk
    2/3 cup cream of coconut
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    1 tablespoon unsalted butter

    1. In a small bowl, whisk together the whole egg with 2 teaspoons water; set aside. On a lightly floured surface, roll out piecrust to an 1/8-inch thickness. Transfer the crust to a 9-inch-round pie tin, and press it into the bottom edges and up the sides. Using scissors or a sharp knife, trim the crust so it overhangs the tin by about 1-inch. Turn overhanging dough under, forming a rim, and crimp the edges of the pastry. Lightly prick the bottom of the dough with a fork; brush the rim with the beaten egg. Transfer crust to freezer for 30 minutes.

    2. Heat the oven to 375° with rack positioned in the lower third. Carefully line the crust with parchment paper, gently pressing the parchment into the edges of the crust; weigh down parchment with dried beans or pie weights.

    3. Bake until the edges of the pastry begin to turn golden, about 15 minutes. Carefully remove the pie weights and the parchment paper. Continue to bake until crust is golden brown in color, 15 to 20 minutes more. Transfer the crust to a wire rack to cool completely.

    4. Place 1/4 cup of the unsweetened coconut flakes on a Silpat (French nonstick baking mat). Bake until light golden, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

    5. To prepare the filling: Combine the cornstarch, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan. Whisk in milk, and cream of coconut. Set over medium heat, and cook, stirring constantly, until bubbling and thick, about 5 minutes.

    6. In a medium bowl, whisk 4 egg yolks. Slowly whisk hot milk mixture into egg yolks. Return mixture to saucepan, and continue cooking over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture returns to a boil, about 1 minute more. Remove from heat.

    7. Stir in vanilla and butter. Fold in 1 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes. Transfer custard to a medium bowl, place over an ice bath, and cover the surface of the custard with a piece of plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. Set aside.

    8. Combine the 7 egg whites and the remaining 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar in the heat-proof bowl of an electric mixer. Set bowl over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly until the sugar has dissolved and the whites are hot to the touch, 5 to 7 minutes.

    9. Transfer the bowl to the electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Starting on low speed for 1 to 2 minutes and gradually increasing to high speed, beating until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 10 minutes.

    10. Heat the broiler with the rack positioned in lower third of oven. Transfer the custard to the cooled crust. Using a large spatula, pile the meringue onto the center of the custard. Lightly spread the meringue over the custard, spreading the meringue so it touches the edges of the piecrust and sealing well to avoid shrinkage.

    11. Transfer assembled pie to broiler; broil until meringue turns golden brown, just a few seconds, watching constantly.

    12. Transfer pie to a wire rack to cool at least 2 hours. Sprinkle with reserved 1/4 cup toasted coconut. Slice, and serve. Refrigerate any leftover pie.

    Makes two 9-inch crusts

    Use one half of this recipe for the coconut-cream pie, and freeze the other one for another single-crust pie.

    2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon sugar
    1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces

    1. Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to combine. Add all of the butter, and pulse just until mixture resembles coarse meal; some pieces of butter should still be visible. Pulse in 1/4 cup ice water; the mixture should hold its shape when pinched together and will not form a ball in the processor. If necessary, add up to 1/4 cup more ice water.

    2. Divide the dough in half. Turn out each half onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Pat the dough into flat disks, and wrap tightly. Chill at least 1 hour or overnight. The piecrust may be stored in the refrigerator up to 2 days or frozen up to 3 weeks.

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