Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Triple Coconut Cream Pie

Today I attended new employee orientation as I recently became a member of The Tom Douglas restaurants and catering family. If you have ever been to Seattle you have most likely heard of Tom Douglas or been to one of his restaurants (there are currently 7 but plans are in motion for a few more additions in the coming months).  If you haven't been to Seattle then maybe you've seen the movie Sleepless in Seattle where they filmed a dinner scene in Tom's Dahlia Lounge (it has since moved locations). Bottom line...Tom Douglas is a pretty big deal in the pacific northwest. 

Before Tom opened his first restaurant, Dahlia Lounge, (about 21 years ago) he envisioned that the menu would be mostly comfort food. He had three items that had to be on the menu: bread salad, gnocchi, and coconut cream pie. Today that coconut cream pie is still the best selling dessert on his menus. About halfway through today's orientation our HR host whipped out a beautiful triple coconut cream pie so that we could understand why it was so popular and famous. Be still my heart....the best pie I have ever had...huge statement...I know! 

I knew it wouldn't be very nice of me to rave about this ridiculously decadent pie unless I also provided the recipe for it so...here you go: 

Triple Coconut Cream Pie

 Coconut Pastry Cream
2 cups milk
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
2 large eggs
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened

The Pie
One 9-inch Coconut Pie Shell (recipe below)
prebaked and cooled
2 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 ounces unsweetened "chip" or large-shred coconut (about 11/2 cups) or sweetened shredded coconut
Chunks of white chocolate (4 to 6 ounces, to make 2 ounces of curls)


1. To make the pastry cream, combine the milk and coconut in a medium saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add both the seeds and pod to the milk mixture. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat and stir occasionally until the mixture almost comes to a boil.

2. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and flour until well combined. Temper the eggs (to keep them from scrambling) by pouring a small amount (about 1/3 Cup) of the scalded milk into the egg mixture while whisking. Then add the warmed egg mixture to the saucepan of milk and coconut. Whisk over medium-high heat until the pastry cream thickens and begins to bubble. Keep whisking until the mixture is very thick, 4 to 5 minutes more. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add the butter and whisk until it melts. Remove and discard the vanilla pod. Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl and place it over a bowl of ice water. Stir occasionally until it is cool. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a crust from forming and refrigerate until completely cold. The pastry cream will thicken as it cools.

3. When the pastry cream is cold, fill the prebaked pie shell with it, smoothing the surface. In an electric mixer with the whisk, whip the heavy cream with the sugar and vanilla on medium speed. Gradually increase the speed to high and whip to peaks that are firm enough to hold their shape. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a star tip with the whipped cream and pipe it all over the surface of the pie, or spoon it over.

4. For the garnish, preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread the coconut chips on a baking sheet and toast in the oven, watching carefully and stirring once or twice, since coconut burns easily, until lightly browned, 7 to 8 minutes. Use a vegetable peeler to scrape about 2 ounces of the white chocolate into curls.

Coconut Pie Crust 
(makes one 9-inch crust)


1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 to 5 tablespoons ice water


1. Pulse first 5 ingredients in a food processor 6 to 10 times or until mixture is crumbly. Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing once after each addition, until dough holds together when pressed between fingers. (Dough will not form a ball or even clump together in processor—it will be loose.)

2. Turn dough out onto a large sheet of plastic wrap; press into a disc. Cover with plastic wrap, and chill 1 hour.

3. Roll dough to a 12- to 13-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Fit into a 9-inch pie plate, trimming excess to a 1- to 11/2-inch overhang. Turn dough under along rim of pie pan, and flute edges. Chill at least 1 hour before baking.

4. Preheat oven to 400°. Place a sheet of aluminum foil or parchment paper in pie crust, extending over edges, and fill with dried beans, rice, or pie weights. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes. Remove from oven; discard foil and beans, and return pie crust to oven. Bake for 14 to 17 more minutes or until edges are golden brown. Remove from oven, and cool completely on a wire rack.

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