There are so many occasions during the year that call for a specific type of pie—pumpkin or apple for Thanksgiving, perhaps pecan or chocolate for Christmas, and of course fresh fruit for summer pies—that sometimes it’s hard to find an excuse to bake a new flavor. Because let’s face it, if Granny always wants a pecan pie for Christmas that’s what will be served. Enter Pi Day, the annual celebration of the mathematical constant π (pi). Observed on March 14th (3/14 in month/day format) to represent the first three significant digits of the number 3.14159… Pi Day often includes discussions about π, followed by eating actual pie. The beauty of Pi Day is that there are no traditions or family expectations for the flavor of pie you can make. Unlimited options!
My foster dog Creole wanted to get in on the pie action!
Coconut Cream Pie has always been a favorite of mine but oddly I’ve never made my own. After trying a sub-par Coconut Cream Pie in a restaurant last month that was nothing more than a flavorless custard with a bit of coconut on top, I decided it was high time that I add a good Coconut Cream Pie recipe to my repertoire. After a bit of experimentation I’m happy to say I’ve found a recipe I love and it’s good enough that it just might make the cut to be added to the holiday dinner table next to Granny’s pecan pie.
Mix the flour, sugar, and salt together in the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on medium-low speed to cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse sand and the largest butter pieces are about the size of peas. Slowly add the cold water and mix until just combined.
Shape the dough into a disk and cover in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. When the dough is chilled, preheat the oven to 400 degrees and lightly flour your work surface. Roll out the dough and place in a 9-inch pie pan. Trim and crimp the edges, then use a fork to prick the bottom and sides of the crust. Line the crust with aluminum foil or parchment paper and fill with pie weights (dried beans or rice will also work). Bake for 15-20 minutes, then remove the weights and foil and bake for an additional 5 minutes until light golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack and cool.
Bring the coconut milk, milk, shredded coconut, 1/3 cup sugar, and salt to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve the sugar.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, 1/3 cup sugar, and cornstarch until smooth. Very gradually whisk in approximately 3/4 cup of the hot milk mixture to temper the eggs. Add the egg mixture back to the saucepan and cook for approximately 30 seconds until the mixture is thick and a few bubbles burst on the surface. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla and butter. Pour the filling into the prepared crust. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pie and refrigerate until the pie is cold and firm, at least 3 hours.
Before serving, beat the cold cream and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer using the whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Add the vanilla and mix until stiff peaks are just beginning to form. Spread the whipped cream over the chilled filling. Top with the toasted coconut and finely chopped dark chocolate. Serve and enjoy!