February 19, 2012

Coconut Cream Pie and ...

... Happy Birthday to my blog!!! Yes, The Garlic Press is one year old today!

It's hard to believe that I've been cooking and writing this blog for an entire year already.

When I started, I knew I'd have plenty of recipes to share. I'm always flipping through cookbooks, food blogs and food magazines. I have a trove of family recipes to explore. I have a LONG list  of recipes to try and it gets longer every day.

On the other hand, I did worry that I'd run out of things to talk about. After all, how many stories could I possibly have to share? But what I've learned this year is that food is even more intimately connected to my life, my family, my friends, and my feelings, than I'd realized.

Sure, a lot of meals are "just food." But there are so many more that evoke a time, a place, a person, a story. And that's what I've attempted to share with you for the past year.

I hope you've enjoyed the stories and the recipes. And I hope I've even inspired you to try a few along the way.

I've got plenty more recipes to share. So I hope you'll continue to share this adventure with me as I embark on Year 2!

In honor of my blog's birthday, I made a coconut cream pie. This is one of my very favorite desserts -- but one I've never attempted to make before.

It took some courage (homemade pie crust!) and some time. But boy was it worth it! Tender, slightly crispy crust, rich coconutty filling, and sweet, airy whipped cream. Heaven!

Start with the pie crust. Combine flour and salt. Then add butter and shortening (the combination of the two gives you a nice combination of flavor and texture).

Using fingers or a pastry cutter, cut the butter and shortening into the flour until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs.

Add the vinegar and water. Roll the dough into a ball and refrigerate.

Roll out the dough.

Then transfer it to a pie dish. (You can see my crust was far from perfect!) 

Trim the extra dough and pinch the edge to make it look nice. At this point the directions said to put the crust in the oven. But the butter in my crust looked melty so I put it back in the fridge for about 15 minutes until the dough firmed up again.

When you're ready to bake the crust, prick it all over with the fork. (The holes prevent the crust from puffing up).

Line the crust with aluminum foil. Then fill with beans. This also helps prevent the crust from shrinking. I didn't have dried beans on hand so I used rice. Bake the crust like this for about 15 minutes.

Carefully remove the foil and beans or rice, then continue to bake until the crust is golden brown. Let it cool completely.

Now for the filling. First, sprinkle gelatin on cold milk and let it soften.

Once the gelatin is soft, add the sugar, cornstarch, egg and egg yolks. 

Whisk to combine.

Heat the milk and coconut milk in a saucepan. When the milk is hot, add a little of it to the gelatin mixture and whisk. Add a couple more small additions of hot milk to the gelatin mixture and whisk.

Then pour all of the gelatin mixture into the saucepan with the hot milk. 

Bring to a boil and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture (now a custard) becomes nice and thick.

Strain the custard through a sieve, into a large bowl. 

Add the coconut extract, vanilla extract and cream of coconut. Then stir in the shredded coconut.

Pour the filling into the cooled pie crust and refrigerate. I made the pie up to this point the night before I wanted to serve it.

The final step is the topping. Just whip the heavy cream with confectioner's sugar and vanilla extract until it forms soft peaks.

In a small skillet, heat shredded coconut over low heat. Continue to heat, stirring frequently, until the coconut is golden brown and fragrant. Remove from heat and let it cool.

Spread the whipped cream topping evenly over the cooled pie.

Sprinkle with toasted coconut.

Prepare to swoon!


Coconut Cream Pie

Very slightly adapted from a recipe by Mississippi Kitchen

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup cold butter, cubed
1 tsp white vinegar
2-3 tablespoons ice cold water

1 1/2 cups whole milk, divided
1 envelope (about 2 1/2 teaspoons) unflavored gelatin
1 (13.5-ounce) can pure coconut milk (unsweetened)
1/2 cup sugar (I would use 1/3 cup next time)
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 large whole egg
3 egg yolks
2 Tbsp butter, room temperature
1 1/2 tsp coconut extract
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 (15-ounce) can cream of coconut (like Coco Lopez)
2 cups shredded, sweetened coconut

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 Tbsp powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup shredded, sweetened coconut

1.      Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 

2.      In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut in shortening and 1/4 cup cold cubed butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the vinegar and 2 tablespoons water, until mixture forms a ball, adding more water if necessary.

3.      Pat into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

4.      Roll dough out to fit a 9 1/2-10 inch glass pie plate.

5.      Place crust in pie plate and trim and crimp edges.  Place the dish on a baking sheet for easier handling.  Prick the bottom and sides of the crust well with a fork.  Line the inside of the crust with a piece of foil, allowing edges to extend several inches beyond the perimeter.  Place 2 cups of dried beans in the crust to weight it down during baking and prevent shrinkage.
6.      Bake for 15 minutes or until crust is no longer raw on bottom. 

7.      Remove the foil and beans by carefully lifting the foil out by the overhang.  Bake for another 10 to 15 minutes or until light golden brown. 

8.      Remove from oven and cool completely.  

1.      Place 1/2 cup cold milk in a mixing bowl and sprinkle with the gelatin. Set aside to soften for about 5 minutes.

2.      Bring the remaining milk and coconut milk to nearly a boil in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat.
When the gelatin is soft, add the sugar, cornstarch, egg and egg yolks and whisk until very well blended.

3.      Gradually whisk about a 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture into the gelatin mixture. Repeat this process once or twice using about 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture each time.

4.      Pour the warmed gelatin mixture into the saucepan with the hot milk and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Cook for about 2 minutes or until mixture is very thick. Strain the pastry cream through a fine wire strainer into a large clean bowl. Whisk in the butter, coconut extract, vanilla extract and cream of coconut until smooth. Stir in 2 cups shredded coconut.  
5.      Pour into the cooled the pie shell and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.

1.      Beat the heavy cream in a large bowl on high speed until foamy. 

2.      Add the powdered sugar and vanilla, and beat until soft to medium stiff peaks form. 

3.      Put a small skillet over low heat. Add 1/2 cup shredded coconut. Heat slowly, stirring frequently, until the coconut is lightly browned and fragrant.

4.      Spread whipped cream evenly over the pie. Sprinkle with toasted 1/2 cup coconut. 

Note: Keep the pie refrigerated.

Makes 1 9-inch pie

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