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Triple Coconut Cream Pie

Tom Douglas of Dahlia Lounge & Bakery, Seattle
Serves 6 - 8
Note: To garnish the pie at the restaurant, we toast unsweetened coconut that is available as very large, attractive 'chips,' and shave big curls of white chocolate over the top. You may be able to find unsweetened coconut chips, or a large shred of coconut in a natural foods store or in the bulk section of your supermarket.
  • 1 Prebaked and cooled 9-inch Coconut Pie Shell (See Recipe)
Coconut Pastry Cream Ingredients
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk, stirred
  • 2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
  • 1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
  • 2 large eggs
  • 10 tablespoons (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons) sugar
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons (1/4cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Whipped Cream Topping
  • 21/2 cups heavy cream, chilled
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4-6 ounces bulk white chocolate to make 2 ounces of curls
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chip or large shred coconut (about 11/2 cups), or substitute sweetened shredded coconut
To make the Coconut Pastry Cream, in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine milk, coconut milk and shredded coconut. Using a paring knife, scrape seeds from vanilla bean and add both scrapings and pod to milk mixture. Stir occasionally until mixture almost comes to a boil. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar and flour until well-combined. Temper eggs by pouring a small amount (about 1/3 cup) of scalded milk into egg mixture while whisking. Then add warmed egg mixture to saucepan of milk and coconut. Whisk over medium-high heat until pastry cream thickens and begins to bubble. Keep whisking until mixture is very thick, 4 to 5 minutes more. Remove saucepan from heat. Add butter and whisk until it melts. Remove and discard vanilla pod. Transfer pastry cream to a bowl and place it over another bowl of ice water. Stir occasionally until pastry cream is cool. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on surface of pastry cream (to prevent a skin from forming) and refrigerate until completely cold. The pastry cream will thicken as it cools. When pastry cream is cold, fill pastry shell, smoothing the surface with a rubber spatula. To prepare garnish, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread unsweetened coconut chips (or large-shred coconut, or sweetened shredded coconut) on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 7 to 8 minutes, watching carefully (coconut burns easily) and stirring once or twice until lightly browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool. To prepare Whipped Cream Topping, in an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip heavy cream with sugar and vanilla extract to peaks that are firm enough to hold their shape. Transfer whipped cream to a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe it all over the surface of the pie. Sprinkle toasted coconut over top of pie. Use a vegetable peeler to scrape about 2 ounces of white chocolate curls on top of the pie (or you can cut pie into wedges, place wedges on plates and garnish each wedge individually with toasted coconut and white chocolate curls) and serve. A step ahead: If not serving immediately, keep the pie refrigerated, covered with plastic wrap. The finished pie should be used within a day. Prepare the garnishes just before serving. The coconut pastry cream can be made a day ahead and stored chilled in the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap as described above. Fill the pie shell and top it with whipped cream and garnishes when you are ready to serve the pie.
Coconut Pie Shell Preparation
Serves 6 - 8
Note: You will need to ‘blind-bake’ the pie shell, which means bake the unfilled pastry-lined pan. Use dried beans to weight the bottom of the crust and keep it from puffing up during baking. You can store your ‘pie beans’ in a jar and use them over and over. Very cold butter will give you a flakier crust. If your butter is not very cold, you could set the diced butter in the freezer for 10 minutes before making your dough.
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling dough
  • 1/2 cup sweetened, shredded coconut
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup ice water, or more as needed
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine the flour, coconut, diced butter, sugar, and salt. Pulse to form coarse crumbs. Gradually add the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing each time. Use only as much water as need for the dough to hold together when gently pressed between your fingers. Don’t work the dough with your hands, just test to see if it is holding. The dough will not form a ball or even clump together in the processor, it will still be quite loose. Place a large sheet of plastic wrap on the counter and dump the coconut dough onto it. Pull the plastic wrap around the dough, forcing it into a rough flattened round with the pressure of the plastic wrap. Chill for 30 minutes to an hour before rolling. To roll the dough, unwrap the round of coconut dough and put it on a lightly floured board. Flour the rolling pin and your hands. Roll the dough out into a circle about 1/8-inch thick. Occasionally lift the dough with a board scraper to check that it is not sticking and add more flour if it seems like it’s about to stick. Trim to a 12 to 13-inch circle. Transfer the rolled dough to a 9-inch pie pan. Ease the dough loosely and gently into the pan. You don’t want to stretch dough at this point because it will shrink when it is baked. Trim any excess dough to a 1- to 11/2-inch overhang. Turn the dough under along the rim of the pie pan and use your finger to flute the edge. Chill the unbaked pie shell at least an hour before baking. (This step prevents the dough from shrinking in the oven.) When you are ready to bake the piecrust, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place a piece of foil or parchment in the pie shell and fill with dried beans. (This step prevents the bottom of the shell from puffing up during baking.) Bake the piecrust for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the pastry rim is golden. Remove the pie pan from the oven. Remove the foil and beans and return the piecrust to the oven. Bake for an additional 10 to 12 minutes, or until bottom of crust has golden brown patches. Remove piecrust from the oven and allow to cool completely.
A step ahead: The dough can be wrapped in plastic and stored in the refrigerator for a day or two, or frozen for a few weeks. Also the dough can be rolled out and fitted into a pie pan, and the unbaked pie shell can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated or frozen for the same amounts of time. Frozen pie shells can be baked directly out of the freezer, without thawing.