Here we are, with six inches of snow on the ground and another 4 or 5 inches possible by tomorrow afternoon. We haven’t seen the sun for a week and aren’t going to have a chance to see it again for yet another week. We’re also looking at subzero temps by Thursday night.
I believe my Seasonal Affective Disorder is kicking in…please bear with me; I’m likely to bitch about the weather a LOT between now and April. I do not do cold weather very well, and if it weren’t for the spectacular seasons of spring and fall and the very lovely summers here, I believe I’d go nuts.
Anyhoo, in the interest of conjuring visions of warm, white sand beaches, swaying palm trees and surging surf, I give you my recipe for Coconut Cream Pie. The basic custard is the basis for not only all of my cream pies (I’ll give you a couple of variations at the end of the recipe), but for my version of that most Southern of all desserts, the classic and ubiquitous Banana Pudding.
The ingredients are not numerous and it is pretty simple to make, especially if you buy and pre-bake a frozen pie crust. Remember that when slicing any pie topped with a meringue, dipping the knife in hot water will help make a clean cut.
You can also use the shredded, sweetened coconut commonly found in grocery stores if you like; I just find that the finely grated, unsweetened kind gives it a better flavor and texture (and it won’t get stuck in your teeth!).
Coconut Cream Pie
1 – 9″ baked pie shell
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1 tablespoon butter
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup finely grated, unsweetened coconut
4 egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Whisk together the sugar, flour and salt in a medium-sized mixing bowl; set aside.
In a heavy saucepan, beat egg yolks well. Add the vanilla to the milk and add to the eggs, alternating with the flour mixture, stirring or whisking constantly.
Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat; when mixture begins to thicken, add butter, stirring constantly to prevent scorching. When the mixture reaches pudding consistency, remove from heat. Pour into cooled pie crust; set aside.
For the meringue, beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until they begin to form form soft peaks. Add sugar, a tablespoon at a time, and cream of tartar, and beat until stiff, but not dry. Spread over the warm custard, sprinkle with a little more coconut, and bake in 400 F oven for 10 – 12 minutes, or until the meringue is browned.
Cool completely before serving.
Banana Cream Pie – substitute banana flavoring or extract and 2 cups thinly sliced bananas. Tossing the banana slices in a little lemon juice will help prevent browning.
Chocolate Cream Pie – When combining the flour and sugar, add 3 -4 tablespoons of cocoa powder, and substitute pure vanilla extract in the custard. A generous pinch of cinnamon will take this right over the edge.