Pie #6: Cuckoo for coconuts

Pie #6: Coconut cream
"I think we make a real sharp couple of coconuts-I'm dumb, you're shy, whaddaya think, huh?" ~Rocky Balboa from Rocky
Most people either love or hate coconut in their food. There is no ambivalence about it. Some people love coconut in everything. Its yummy, sweet consistency adds flavor, texture, and nutrition to cakes, cookies, salads, and pies. But you just mention coconut and some people will recoil in horror. The same flavor and texture that attracts some, turns others away. Many will argue there are valid reasons why Mounds and Almond Joys are often tossed aside after a night of treat or treating on Halloween.  Coconut, though, has made quite the insurgence lately in the health field. I've read numerous articles touting the benefits of coconut oil pulling and drinking coconut water. Coconut oil is said to kill bacteria and help burn more fat. There are articles that even claim it contains "powerful medicinal properties." Sounds like a super miracle food, right? Will coconut still maintain its healthful vigor if sugar, butter, and eggs are added? That might be debatable, but if you love coconut you will not care!

My good friend Sue and her husband Steve contributed to my Longest Day challenge, so I offered to bake them a pie. Sue said that Steve's favorite is coconut cream. This could be a challenge for me. My husband is NOT a fan of these flaky little critters, so I don't experiment with them. Well, that's the beauty of my pie journey. I am trying new things. I pulled out the recipe in my Pies and Tarts cookbook.

It didn't look that difficult, but I needed to find coconut milk. Coconut milk? Who knew? But there it was in the baking section at Kroger! This recipe also called for six eggs, four yolks and two whole ones. Wow. (My next attempt will be a lemon meringue pie which calls for 12! I'm going to have to stock up on eggs.) Anyway....it really wasn't that difficult to assemble. I just had to learn a few new terms such as blind baking and tempering.

Blind baking a crust is "fully pre-baking the empty crust prior to filling." I'm not sure where this term came from, but I will tell you, it's not easy. You first roll out the crust, place it in the pie tin, and then set it in the frig to chill for an hour. I then placed a pizza stone in the  oven to preheat; the book said this would prevent a soggy bottom. Before I put the crust in the oven to "blind bake," I placed pie weights in a circle of parchment paper in the center of the crust. These weigh down the crust to prevent it from buckling. I baked the crust at a high temp for fifteen minutes, and after I took out the weights I lowered the temp and baked it for about ten more minutes. It still looked like it buckled and I wasn't sure about the bottom, but onward with the filling!

This brings me to "tempering." As I stated before, this filling called for four egg yolks and two eggs. You don't want to scramble your eggs when you add hot ingredients so you "temper" them.  After heating milk, sugar, and coconut, I slowly added about 1/3 of the hot mixture to the eggs. I then returned this to the hot pan. This method helps prevent the cooking of the eggs. I think I was successful. I didn't see any bits of cooked egg. Yea!
After the filling cooled, I poured it in the blind baked crust and placed it in the frig to chill. Since this is basically a cooked pudding, I first needed to place plastic wrap on the top so it wouldn't form a skin. Blech.
A few hours later I whipped the cream for the topping and toasted some more coconut to place on top. The final product was beautiful! Sue dropped by later in the evening to pick up her pie. She said Steve was so excited to dig into his coconut cream concoction!
Coconut is the new health food. It is said to improve heart health and digestion. It gives your energy a quick boost. It's also high in fiber and may lower your glycemic index. I realize this pie has six eggs, over a cup of sugar, a stick of butter in the crust, and tons of whipped cream but....... there is the coconut to balance all of that, right? So....have another piece of pie. It's good for you!!!!!!!