A Challenging Pie

>> Monday, August 20, 2007

You must have patience when it comes to making Coconut Cream Pie. If you rush the filling, it will become super runny. I was doing fine with the filling until I burnt it. I was trying to clean out the one cabinet so I could pack for college. Apparently you have to stir it quite often; otherwise it will burn on the bottom. Since I burnt it, I poured what I could into a new pan (which was most of it). Since I didn't want to burn it a second time, I let it get bubbly and then turned it off. It took about 15-20 minutes. It wasn't as thick as it called for, so next time I'll let it go maybe another 5 minutes. As a result, the pie filling was super runny. The meringue acts as an insulator, so the filling does not cook anymore when you toast the meringue.

You can easily make Banana Cream Pie with this recipe. Omit the coconut and put sliced bananas in the bottom of the pie before adding the filling.

I already had plans for this pie before I joined Chefs Like Me. When I saw the challenge this week was pie, I thought the timing couldn't be better.

Coconut Cream Pie

9 inch pie crust (mine was pre-made but homemade works too)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup flour OR 1/4 cup cornstarch (I used cornstarch)
1/4 tsp salt
3 cups milk
4 eggs, separated
3 Tbsp butter
2 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/3 cups flaked coconut
1/2 tsp cream of tartar

1. Line a pie plate with pie crust. Trim pastry to 1/2 inch beyond edge. This is important because when it's baked, the excess will break off. Bake at 450F for 10 minutes. After crust is removed, turn heat down to 350F.

2. For filling, in saucepan combine 1 cup sugar, flour/cornstarch, and salt. Gradually stir in milk. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Make sure you stir because it will burn on the bottom. Reduce heat; cook an additional 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

3. Separate egg whites and yolks. Beat yolks in a bowl. Stir in 1 cup of hot milk mixture into the yolks. This will allow the yolks to get used to the heat; otherwise, they will curdle. Pour egg mixture into milk mixture. Cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in butter and 1 1/2 tsp vanilla. Stir in 1 cup coconut. Pour into baked pie crust.

4. For meringue, beat egg whites, 1 tsp vanilla, and cream of tartar at medium speed for 1 minute. Soft peaks should form. This means when you take the beaters out of the egg whites, peaks will form but fall back down.

5. Gradually add sugar, about 2 Tbsp at a time. Beat at high speed for 4 minutes or until stiff peaks form. When you take the beaters out, peaks will form and keep their shape.

6. Spread meringue on pie. Make sure you spread all the way to the crust and no holes are present. The meringue acts as an insulator. The filling will not cook anymore. If heat does get in, the pie may shrink. Sprinkle remaining coconut on top. Bake at 350F for 12 - 15 minutes or until meringue and coconut are golden. Cool in the refrigerator.

Source: "Better Homes and Gardens All-Time Favorite Pies," 1978 p. 32


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