Are you ready to celebrate Pi Day this Friday with pies? My friends and I continued our proud tradition of a pie-centric potluck party leading up to March 14 (last year was epic too). It was an indulgent lunch of sampling a buffet of savoury and sweet pies. With so many culinary enthusiasts under one roof, it went without saying that the pie selection was anything but ordinary. We seized the opportunity to tackle unusual recipes, complicated multi-day productions, or pies that fell out of favour long ago. It was absolutely a treat to sample and take home such a variety.
row 1: Basteeya, Keller’s Quiche Lorraine, ADPC’s Tourtiere, Cottage Pie
row 2: Keller’s Chicken Pot Pie, Tuscan Sweet Spinach Pie, Nesselrode Pie, Milk Chocolate Pudding Pie with Salted Peanuts
row 3: Eccles Hand Pies, Key Lime Pie with Chocolate Almond Crust, Chocolate Coconut Cream Pie, Buttermilk Maple Pie
row 4: Rhubarb Almond Tart, Shaker Lemon Pie, Moon Pie, Chocolate Marshmallow Pie
Check out boneats' amazing album for all the pies!
I originally planned on an encore of Tangerine Almond Shortbread Tart, reliable and just on the side of unusual. About a week before the party, inspiration struck. I had vision of chocolate and coconut creamy confection. Despite of the pedestrian name Chocolate Coconut Cream Pie, it was anything but.
When I conjure up image of chocolate coconut cream pie, I think of frozen pies from the freezer aisle. One that is filled with chocolate pudding, covered with tiny rosettes of whipped topping, and finished with confetti of toasted coconut. If I step it up with a bakery pie, I probably get a flakey butter pie crust with coconut chocolate custard, whipped cream, and toasted coconut. The basic composition is the same but made with care and quality ingredients.
I don’t see why I have to stay within the boundary of this formula. I want the texture and potency of fresh coconut. I want to taste chocolate in many guises. Oh and I also want to decorate the pie in the most silly cutesy manner. I set out to create my own version of Chocolate Coconut Cream Pie.
Cookie crumb crust is best to pair with creamy filling enjoyed cold from the fridge. It doesn’t get soggy and is easy to make. I made a chocolate crumb crust using crushed chocolate wafer cookies tossed with melted butter. Bypassing baking maintains the deep chocolate taste brought out by butter. The first layer of filling is whipped white chocolate ganache and loads of shredded fresh coconut meat. I was inspired by BAKED Explorations’ Almond Joy Tart. White chocolate’s sweet milky taste complements beautifully with rich coconut and dark rum. For custard, I use dark chocolate pastry cream made with coconut milk, adapted from Chocolate Desserts By Pierre Herme. The coconut flavour is more subtle to let the melted dark chocolate shine. Since this is a cream pie, of course I have whipped cream…dreamy chocolate whipped cream!
Remember what I said about decoration? I was not going for a classy look. My local grocery store stocked the shelves with Easter candies during the first week of January. I walk past the pastel display at least four times a week and I desperately wanted an excuse to buy a boatload of candies. I realize we are still over a month away from Easter but I could wait any longer. I broke down and bought marshmallow chicks, candy-coated milk chocolate eggs, and oozy chocolate eggs to create this spring-like tableau. I am feeling so much better now that I got it out of my system.
Chocolate Coconut Cream Pie
makes one 9-inch pie
Cookie Crumb Crust
- 180g Nabisco chocolate wafers
- 2 pinches of salt
- 70g unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
White Chocolate Coconut Ganache
- 250mL heavy cream
- 227g white chocolate, chopped to small pieces
- 1 coconut
- 1 tablespoon dark rum
Chocolate Coconut Pastry Cream
- 3 large egg yolks
- 4 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2 1/4 tablespoon cornstarch
- 375mL coconut milk
- 150g dark chocolate, melted
- 1 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
Chocolate Whipped Cream
- 375mL heavy cream
- 75g dark chocolate, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoon granulated sugar
On Day 1:
- To make cookie crumb crust: put chocolate wafer cookies and salt in the bowl of a food processor and process until they become fine crumbs. Drizzle in melted butter and vanilla extract. Pulse 5-6 times until evenly moisten. Transfer crumbs to 9-inch glass pie plate. Cover with plastic wrap and press firmly to even layer. Chill in fridge to set.
- To make white chocolate ganache: bring heavy cream to boil. Place chopped white chocolate in a heat-proof mixing bowl. Pour hot cream to white chocolate and let stand for 30 seconds. Stir slowly with spatula until smooth. Transfer to airtight container and press a sheet of plastic wrap directly on top of chocolate mixture to prevent formation of skin. Cover with lid and chill in fridge at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
- To prepare coconut: using a sharp ice pick or screwdriver, drill two holes out of the three indentations. Drain the coconut water. Wrap the coconut with a large tea towel and smash with meat mallet until it cracks into several pieces. Pry coconut meat from the hard shell (I like to use my chestnut knife to do that). Shred into fine strands with a mandolin. You need 2 cups of shredded coconut. Store in airtight container in fridge.
- To make chocolate coconut pastry cream: anchor a large glass mixing bowl on a wet dishtowel. Whisk together egg yolks, sugar, and cornstarch until smooth. Scald coconut milk in a small saucepan. With one hand whisking the egg mixture, slowly pour in hot coconut milk until blended to temper the eggs. Transfer back to saucepan and bring to boil. Let the mixture boil for 1 minute until thicken, stirring vigorously. Empty thickened custard to mixing bowl and stir in melted dark chocolate and butter. Store in airtight container and press a sheet of plastic wrap directly on top to prevent formation of skin. Cover with lid and chill in fridge at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
- To make chocolate whipped cream: bring heavy cream to boil. Pour into large mixing boil and stir in dark chocolate and sugar. Stir until mixture becomes smooth. Store in airtight container and press a sheet of plastic wrap directly on top to prevent formation of skin. Cover with lid and chill in fridge overnight until very cold.
On Day 2:
- Put white chocolate ganache into bowl of stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, mix at high speed until soft peaks form. Fold in dark rum and 2 cups of shredded coconut meat. Spread whipped white chocolate ganache to even layer in the prepared pie crust. Chill for 30 minutes to set.
- Rinse and dry the stand mixer bowl. Using the paddle attachment, mix the stiff pastry cream at medium speed until smooth and spreadable. Spread over the white chocolate layer until it flushes with the top of the pie crust. Smooth with offset spatula. Chill for 30 minutes to set.
- Rinse the stand mixer bowl with very cold water and dry. Better yet, chill the bowl in the fridge for 30 minutes if ambient temperature is warm. Pour chocolate cream into cold mixing bowl and whisk at high speed until soft peak stage. At this point, you can mount the chocolate whipped cream on top of the custard-filled pie in an attractive manner. Or you can fill a star-tipped pastry bag and pipe shell border on the pie. Chill for up to 8 hours before serving. The chocolate in the whipped cream helps with stabilizing so the whipped cream holds its shape.
- Just before serving, decorate the cream pie with Easter candies. Any extra whipped cream can be used as glue to hold the decorations in place.
Not enough pies? Here are a whole bunch of pies I made previously. Take your pick for Pi Day!
Sweet Pies & Tarts
- Wild Blueberry Pie
- Peanut Butter Banana Cream Pie
- Nutella Banoffee Cream Pie
- Oatmeal Chocolate Pie
- Harvest Apple Pie with Cranberries and Rum Raisins
- Caramel Pumpkin Pie
- Sour Cherry Lattice Pie
- Ginger Kuri Squash Pie
- Yuzu Meringue Pie
- Mixed Berries Streusel Pie
- Blood Orange Almond Tart
- Malted Crisp Tart
- Blackberry & Coconut Macaroon Tart
- Black Sesame Yuzu Pear Tart