Coconut Cream Pi, a Gastronomical Constant

coconut cream

Happy Pi Day!

Can you believe it? We’re here celebrating Pi Day again! I find it rather hilarious that Pi Day is the one constant holiday that I always try to make a post about every year. Why is that hilarious? Because I absolutely despise math! I was always terrible at it as a kid, and just like my maturity level, not much has changed since then.

But we’re not here to talk about my terrible multiplication skills or my growing figurine collection that’s proof I failed to grow up after high school. We’re here to talk about pi!

If you’re not familiar, pi, or π, is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter.

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It’s a mathematical constant which means it applies to circles of all sizes. Big circle or small, the pi is always the same. If written out, the actual number is infinite and patternless, as pointed out here where the first million digits are documented. Every year, Pi Day is celebrated by math geeks and non-math geeks everywhere, but this year is special…

See, the first 12 digits of Pi are 3.14159265359. And we celebrate Pi Day on March 14th, or, 3/14, which are the first 3 digits of the constant.

This year, 2015, we’re able to continue on down the sequence since the next 2 numbers are 1, and 5.

3/14/15

But the fun doesn’t stop there! Bringing the time into the mix, we can see – right down to the millisecond – the first 12 digits of Pi on our clock!

3/14/15 9:26:53.59     =     3.14159265359

So see! If you know a nerd and they’re really excited just after breakfast today, then this is why.

Alright, the educational portion of the post is out of the way, let’s talk about pie!

Pie...3.14.+Mother+of+god

Over the last few years I’ve made some pretty good pies, but they were strangely on the savory side. Strange because I’m such a sweet guy. Well, not like that.. I mean… Yeah, I’m a freaking sweetie pie, ask my wife. No, seriously don’t ask my wife, I’ve bought way too many amiibo lately, her judgement of me may be clouded. But I mean I’m more of a sweet fan than savory, so it’s just weird realizing they’ve been the latter.

Not only that, I’m breaking tradition and not continuing the roll I was on with integrating a fanfic of some sorts in the post. Remember last year? When I reviewed Mrs. Lovett’s Pie Shop from Sweeney Todd, or the year before that when I shared the Shepard’s Pie that I wrote a Mass Effect 3 fanfic for on EZModeUnlocked.com? See, now I feel bad for not tying this into something. That’s what I get for being lazy, I guess.

I mean, it wasn’t until last week when it hit me Pi Day was just around the corner. And when I was trying to figure something out, I did what any other guy would do when faced with a problem – I asked my wife.

I said to her, “Wife! …I need a pie.

Rock

No, not the Rock’s favorite pie! An actual pie. Her gut reaction was apple, and even though I’m a complete sucker for an apple pie, I wanted to do something different. Days went by and nothing was jumping out at me. I asked a few friends and a cream cheese pie with smoked salmon, red onions, capers, and a saltine cracker crust was mentioned, as well as apple pie again. I began leaning towards it – the apple pie, not the insanely intriguing sounding salmon pie – since time wasn’t on my side. But finally, the wife came through with a suggestion. Something I’ve never done before and seemed perfect since she’s a coconut freak.

I started looking around and discovered making a pie crust completely out of shredded coconut was a thing. So if course, I had to do it. Also, I figured it was finally time to jump on the coconut oil train that’s been going for a while now. I can totally see where all the praise comes from, since using it as an alternative to butter really does seem appealing.

As far as the topping goes, I really wanted to use whipped cream. I feel like it’s more flexible and can be infused with flavors, like coconut extract for instance, which let me tell you would’ve been awesome. But there appears to be a heavy cream shortage in my area. I went to 4 or 5 different stores and the only type of heavy cream I found was at Walmart for $7. I love pie, but not that much. So I decided to use Cool Whip despite my feelings towards it.

I know! Somewhere on this site I have a whipped cream post that is in SERIOUS need of upgraded pictures, and in it I proclaimed my disdain for cool whip. But this was an emergency.

How did it all come out? Well let’s have a look!

Coconut Cream Pie              (adapted from FoodNetwork.com)

 

Coconut Crust

2 1/2 cups – Shredded Coconut
5-6 tablespoons – Coconut Oil, melted

 

Filling

3 cups – Coconut Milk
2 each – Egg Yolks
1/2 cup – Sugar
1/3 cup – Corn Starch
1 teaspoon – Vanilla Extract
2 tablespoons – Coconut Rum (optional)
2 tablespoons – Coconut Oil
1 1/2 cups – Shredded Coconut

 

Topping

Heavy Cream, whipped, with coconut extract
Cool Whip (optional instead of cream)

 

Notes:

  • I used a 9 inch pie dish and it was the perfect size.
  • 2 – 13.5 ounce cans of coconut milk is what I used.
  • To melt the coconut oil, I just put it in the microwave for a few seconds. It really is just like butter if you’ve never used it.
  • When I made this, I used 1 1/2 cups of coconut milk and 1 1/2 cups of half & half. Even with all this coconut, I feel like there could’ve been more coconut flavor, so I omitted the half & half here and replaced it with more coconut milk.
  • I channeled my inner Puerto Rican and threw in some coconut rum. If you haven’t noticed, I’m going all in on this coconut thing.
  • Again, fresh whipped cream is preferred but if you too have a shortage, cool whip will work fine. I guess.
  • If you need a recipe for whipped cream, I just so happened to have one right here.

If you didn’t catch it the first time, I’ve never made coconut cream pie before. To my surprise, it’s insanely easy. Nothing really to it at all. Don’t believe me? Well the proof, as they say, is in the custard….

  • Heat the oven to 325. Get the coconut in a bowl and mix it with the melted coconut oil.

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If you’re like me and you never used coconut oil before, it looks just like this.

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Pop it in the microwave and it melts down just like butter would. I should’ve jumped on the bandwagon sooner!

You’re looking for the coconut to feel moist to the point where it should lightly clump together – just like grahams when you make a graham cracker crust.

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  • Once it’s ready, spray your pie dish and start pressing the coconut in. Work it all the way around, pushing it into every edge and spreading it around making it even with no lumps.

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Where I messed up: I didn’t go all the way to the top of the dish. I should have gone up the sides more till the coconut reached the top of the dish. But for some reason I stopped and you’ll see I regretted it later.

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  • Once you worked the coconut into the pie dish, pop it in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the coconut is browned. Keep an eye on it!

Now, I’ve done this twice. Once I let it go till the edges got brown, then I put foil on them till the rest got brown. Sadly, my mom called for camera taking tips for her trip to Puerto Rico and I kinda sorta forgot I left it in the oven. But let me tell you, toasted coconut smells fantastic! The second time I put the foil on first thing. And when I started noticed browning on the bottom, I took the foil off. There were a few uneven spots when all was said and done but for the most part I was happy with it. So either route you go I’m sure you’ll be fine.

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  • Now that the pie dish is out of the oven, set it aside and let I cool while you work on the custard.

Custard may sound like a difficult thing to do, but I assure you, nothing is simpler.

  • Take everything minus the last 2 ingredients – coconut milk, egg yolks, sugar, corn starch, vanilla extract, rum – and put them into a cold pan. Whisk it all up until you see a nice smooth liquid with no lumps or clumps or flumps. Sorry, I read too much Dr. Seuss.
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This is me. Measuring my rum….
  • Put the pan on medium heat and keep watching and stirring until it heats up and starts to simmer. Constant vigilance! You don’t want it burning. Once it simmers, you should go from liquid to custard! It’s magic in a pan!

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  • Take it off the heat and add the last 2 ingredients – the coconut oil and the shredded coconut. Stir them in and your custard is done.

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  • Go ahead and pour it in the pie dish and make sure it’s smoothed out properly. And this is where I regretted not going all the way up with the coconut.

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See, I would’ve had the perfect amount for the size of the dish, but since my crust didn’t go all the way up to the edge, I had to take some custard out to make sure I had room for the cream. It’s not like I threw it away, I put it in a few glasses and had an elegant looking, single serve, coconut cream pie.

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But still, it would’ve been nice to have a nice, thick pie as the finished product. So now you know why! Go all the way to the top with the shredded coconut pie crust!

  • The rest is child’s play. Pop the dish in the fridge for a few hours until it sets. Once it does, plop your whipped cream shhhh, or (last resort) cool whip on top and spread it out.

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  • Then take about a half a cup of shredded coconut and toast it in the oven on 400 for a few minutes. Once you see it turning brown, give it a stir and put it back in. More brown, stir, and back in, until most of it is a nice golden color.

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  • Then just sprinkle on top of the cream and you are done!

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C’mon. Tell me that wasn’t easy, I dare you.

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It’s so light and creamy, it’s ridiculous.

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Seriously, you could probably eat half the pie and not even notice.

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You get your knife and you make that first incision…

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Then you slide the spatula in there and slowly take out that first piece…..

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Slide it on the plate…….

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Introduce your fork to its decadence………

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And boom, the entire pie is gone. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I really thought I was going to miss a regular pie crust. You have no idea how crazy I am for pie crust. But the toasted coconut crust really seals the deal here.

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It’s a huge reason why this pie feels so light and fresh. It’s integral to how good the whole package is and I’m glad I went with it. Heck, I’m pretty sure the next time I make a chocolate pie it’s getting a shredded coconut crust. Hmmm, might not be able to wait till next year for that one.

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But of course, you wouldn’t know unless you give it a try. I know you keep eyeing that gif with the fork sliding down, don’t lie. Here, want to see it again?

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I want to compare it to something, but this is a family friendly blog.

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But I’m telling you, once you get that first bite, you’ll be hooked.

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Trust me, I’m from an island in the Caribbean, I know my coconut.

 

Now, there’s an age old debate that is almost wrong to take sides in, but you kinda have to. I mean, if you’re at a party that has both options, you can’t take a slice of each without looking like a greedy jerk. And even if you go back to get the other one, you had to pick one to have first. So which side are you on… Cake or Pie? And no, unless you’re this guy on reddit, you can’t pick both.

pie cake
Most. Epic. Cake. Ever.

I’m curious, where do you stand? I was all about the cake for a long time. I don’t have anything against it and still love it, but pie can be wholesome, light, and fresh. All while being rich and decadent at the same time. You feel guilty if you have a second piece of cake. But not pie! You feel good when you eat pie. I could go on but I don’t want to sway your opinion.

So where does your allegiance lie? Team Cake… or Team Pie?

 

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