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 in.) Deep-Dish Pie Crust
- 2 cups 1% Milk
- 1 cup Half & Half
- 1½ cups flaked Sweetened Coconut
- 2 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract; divided
- 2/3 cup plus ¼ cup Sugar; divided
- 1/3 cup Cornstarch
- ¼ tsp. Sea Salt
- 4 Large Egg Yolks
- 2 tbsp. Unsalted Butter
- 1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
- ¼ cup flaked Sweetened Coconut; toasted
- Preheat oven according to the pie crust package directions for a chilled/no-bake pie. Bake the pie according to the package directions. Cool crust completely on a wire rack.
- Meanwhile, combine milk and half & half in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Add 1½ cups of the sweetened coconut and 1 tsp. of vanilla. Bring milk mixture to a simmer then immediately remove from heat. Cover and let stand for 15 minutes. Strain mixture 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 2/3 cup of 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 for at least 1 hour to set.
- While the pie chills, prepare the whipped topping. Chill a large metal bowl and beaters of a hand or stand mixer in the freezer for 5-10 minutes. Whip the heavy cream in the chilled bowl with a hand or stand mixer until soft peaks form. Add the remaining ¼ cup sugar and 1 tsp. vanilla. Continue to whip until stiff peaks form. Be sure not to over mix! Place in the refrigerator and chill until the pie filling is set.
- To assemble the pie, spread the whipped cream topping over the set custard filling. Sprinkle with the toasted coconut flakes just before serving.