When I think of no-bake pies, coconut cream is hands down my favorite (lemon being a close second). I have fond memories of the sprawling collection of pies my grandparents would serve at every holiday. Whether it be Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter we would always have a banana cream, pumpkin, chocolate ambrosia, mincemeat, and coconut cream pie. The pies would always be ordered from a local buffet called Bishop’s. Unfortunately, Bishop’s has long been closed and I have not had a coconut cream pie quite the same since. When the craving would call there is always a variety in the supermarket freezer section but they are never the same as freshly made.
I recall when I was a pre-teen (about 17 years ago), I attempted to make a coconut cream pie from scratch. I remember the taste being off and I never attempted to make it again since I could always count on the holidays to quench my craving. Since moving away from my hometown and the closure of Bishop’s I decided to make another attempt as an adult and serve this pie for Easter.
I believe my mistake all those years ago was from using coconut extract to flavor the filling. This time I decided to steep coconut in a blend of half-and-half and milk as my base for the filling. I strained out the raw coconut with cheesecloth, resulting in a smooth, flavorful custard that harbors a bit fewer calories and saturated fat. Add a homemade whipped cream topping and you have a dreamy mile-high coconut cream pie worth every second spent in the kitchen!
Coconut Cream Pie
- 1 frozen (9 inch) Deep-Dish Pie Crust
- 2 cups 1% Low-Fat Milk
- 1 cup Half-and-Half
- 1 ½ cups flaked Sweetened Coconut
- 1 tsp. pure Vanilla Extract
- 2/3 cup Sugar
- 1/3 cup Cornstarch
- ¼ tsp. Salt
- 4 large Egg Yolks
- 2 tbsp. Unsalted Butter
Whipped Cream Ingredients:
- 1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
- ¼ cup Sugar
- 1 tsp. pure Vanilla Extract
- ¼ cup flaked Sweetened Coconut; toasted
- Preheat oven according to package directions of the pie crust. Bake the pie crust according to the package directions for a chilled/no-bake pie. Cool crust completely on a wire rack.
- Meanwhile, combine milk and half-and-half in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Add 1 ½ cups coconut and vanilla extract. Bring milk mixture to a simmer then immediately remove from heat. Cover and let stand for 15 minutes. Strain through a cheesecloth-lined sieve into a bowl. Gather the edges of the cheesecloth and squeeze over the bowl to release any extra moisture. Discard the coconut solids.
- Whisk together the 2/3 cup sugar, cornstarch, salt, and egg yolks in a large bowl. Gradually add the milk mixture, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the pan and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Remove from heat and add the butter. Stir until smooth. Place the pan in a large bowl filled with ice for 6 minutes, stirring to cool. Pour into the prepared crust. Cover with plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour to set.
- While the pie chills prepare the whipped topping. Chill a large bowl and the beaters of a hand mixer in the freezer for 5-10 minutes. Whip the cream in the chilled bowl with a hand mixer until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and vanilla and continue to whip until stiff peaks form. Be sure you do not over mix! Chill until the pie filling is set.
- To assemble the pie, spread the whipped cream over the set custard filling. Top with the toasted coconut just before serving. Enjoy!