Wednesday, April 30, 2008

give pie a chance: an ode to waitress

i don't like pie.
well, let me rephrase: i didn't like pie.
it's a pie-dough-is-evil thing. it's a cooked fruit thing.
and yes, that does mean no apple pie.
(cue gasp).
but one blockbuster night, i sat on my couch to enjoy the oh-so-lovely "waitress" - with that felicity girl keri russell in some of her best work.
and she makes pies! damn good, delicious pies.
i decided, i gotta give pie another chance. i gotta try again.
and so i baked up an apple pie. the traditional, the basic.
unfortunately, i still hate apple pie. i still hate cooked fruit. can't help it.
but in my pie journey, i dove into a pie that i loved, mom loved, and even boyfriend loved.
coconut cream pie.
with its ooey-gooey creamy filling and that flaky crust and the topping of nutty toasted coconut.
i still love to make it whenever i'm craving a nice good slice of mmm mmm pie.
and as for pie dough: it's not so bad. i leave the butter in some fairly big hunks and let the dough get a pretty good chill. when i bring it out to roll it, i knead it up a bit to make it easier to work with. always works like a charm.

Coconut Cream Pie
pie dough:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 t salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, cold
2-3 T ice cold water

coconut cream filling:
1 (13.5 oz) can coconut milk
2 oz milk
4 oz vanilla sugar*, divided
pinch salt
1 1/4 oz cornstarch
1 whole egg
1 egg yolk
8 oz heavy cream, whipped, divided

5 oz sweetened coconut

1. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour and salt together. Cut the cold butter into pieces and cut into the flour using a fork - which i always use - or a pastry cutter if you wanna get fancy. You want the butter to get to the size of peas - think really fat, plumpy peas.

2. Add in the ice cold water one tablespoon at a time. Chances are, you won't need more than 2 tablespoons. Mix together to form a dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. You can even make this some days in advance. Freezing also works.

3. Meanwhile, in a saucepan, add the coconut milk, milk, 2 oz sugar, and salt until nearly boiling.

4. While the milk is heating up, whisk together the egg, yolk, cornstarch, and remaining 2 oz sugar. When the liquid reaches almost boiling, slowly add it to the egg mixture while constantly whisking. Please do this slowly otherwise you're going to have coconut scrambled egg cream pie. And, sorry, but that's not appetizing.

5. Once all of the liquid is incorporated, add back into the saucepan and whisk until it is nice and thick. This may take a while, or it may take a short bit depending on how high the heat is. Though do remember the high heat is going to scramble the eggs and again, not appetizing.

6. Once thickened, take it off the heat and transfer it to a bowl. To chill it, either dunk the bowl in an ice bath or cover it with plastic wrap (touching the filling) and refrigerate. When it is completely chilled, fold in half of the whipped cream and 4 oz of coconut.

7. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Roll out the pie dough to fit a 9-inch pie tin (or an 8-inch if you prefer). Trim the excess and dock the dough to make sure it doesn't rise. Bake for about 8-10 minutes or until a light golden brown. Cool.

8. Take the remaining 1 oz of the coconut and toast up in either a dry pan or the oven. (If you've got the oven going for the dough, might as well make some room for a bit of coconut. But watch it - it can burn fairly quickly).

9. And now we assemble! Spoon your coconut filling into the pie shell. Smooth out and top with the remaining 4 oz of whipped cream. Sprinkle with toasted coconut and my goodness, you've got yourself some darn good pie.

*vanilla sugar: such a fabulous concoction of granulated sugar and used up vanilla beans. it gives such a wonderful vanilla essence. actual vanilla bean and vanilla extracts are perfect substitutes, though. about 1/2 a vanilla bean which can be added with the liquids. or 1 teaspoon of extract which you add at the very end.

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