This classic recipe for coconut cream pie combines several pastry components. Rich and creamy coconut pastry cream is the filling of the buttery pie crust and its all topped with real whipped cream and toasted coconut. This pie is bakery quality and is sure to impress!
Coconut Cream Pie Overview
- Skill Level: Intermediate
- Components Used: Single Pie Crust, Pastry Cream, Whipped Cream, Toasted Coconut
Coconut cream pie is comprised of four different pastry components: pie crust, coconut pastry cream, toasted coconut, and whipped cream. Each of these components are simple to make on their own and when layered together make a seriously good coconut cream pie.
In my opinion, there are two things that make a truly great coconut cream pie. First, we are using full fat coconut cream for the pastry cream filling. The coconut cream makes a pastry cream that is incredibly creamy and it gives the filling a natural coconut flavor, unlike using coconut extract.
Second, we are using unsweetened coconut flakes and toasting them. The toasting process brings out an incredible depth of flavor in the coconut and using unsweetened coconut helps balance the flavors.
How to Make Coconut Cream Pie
1. Make & Bake the Pie Crust
I highly recommend making your own pie crust for this coconut cream pie. I know that pie crust can feel daunting if you are new to the process. This tutorial on how to make pie crust is a great place to start to help you gain some confidence. That being said, a pre-made pie crust can be used to make this pie if preferred.
The crust needs to be fully baked before assembling the pie because the filling will not be baked. Allow the crust to cool while you prepare the other components.
2. Make the Coconut Pastry Cream
A classic pastry cream is used for the filling of coconut cream pie except I replace part of the milk in the filling with a can of coconut milk. Using real coconut milk to make the pastry cream contributes a fresh coconut taste to the filling, unlike using coconut extract.
After the pastry cream has been made, it should be strained through a fine mesh sieve to ensure that it is silky smooth. Also, allow the pastry cream to cool slightly before assembling the pie.
3. Toast the Coconut
Toasting the coconut for your coconut cream pie really elevates the pie to bakery quality. Toasted coconut has a much more complex flavor profile and really adds depth to the flavor of the pie. This step is technically optional, but I highly recommend it!
4. Make the Whipped Cream
Real homemade whipped cream is the absolute best topping for coconut cream pie. Because whipped cream is such an incredibly easy component to make yourself, I absolutely do not recommend using store bought whipped cream. It simply isn’t the same!
Tips, Tricks, & Techniques
- The components for coconut cream pie can be made days before you want to assemble and serve the pie. Store pre-made pie dough and pastry cream in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and store toasted coconut at room temperature. However, I highly recommend waiting until the day of to whip the cream.
- I highly recommend reading the recipe through from start to finish before starting the pie. This will help you gain an understanding of the workflow of all of the components.
- Feel free to use this recipe as a template for other coconut cream pie variations! Fresh sliced bananas can be folded into the filling for a Banana Coconut Cream Pie variation or consider adding some mini chocolate chips to the filling and sprinkled on top for Chocolate Chip Coconut Cream Pie!
Coconut Cream Pie
This classic recipe for coconut cream pie combines a buttery crust with rich and creamy coconut pastry cream and is topped with real whipped cream and toasted coconut. This pie is bakery quality and is sure to impress!
FOR THE CRUST
- 1 1/4 cups (5.3 oz, 149 gr) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 7 TBSP (3.5 oz, 98 gr) unsalted butter, cold
- 2-4 TBSP ice water
FOR THE COCONUT PASTRY CREAM FILLING
- 2/3 cup (4.6 oz, 130 gr) granulated sugar
- 6 large egg yolks
- 1/4 cup (1 oz, 28 gr) cornstarch
- 1/8 tsp Morton kosher salt or table salt (use 1/2 tsp if using Diamond kosher)
- 1- 13.5 oz (398 ml) can of full fat coconut milk
- 1 cup (8 fl oz, 237 ml) whole milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp almond extract (optional)
- 2 TBSP (1 oz, 28 gr) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 2 cups (4 0z, 112 gr) unsweetened coconut flakes (*see notes for using sweetened)
FOR THE WHIPPED CREAM TOPPING
- 1 pint (2 cups, 16 fl oz, 473 ml) heavy cream, whipping cream, or double cream, cold
- 2/3 cup (2.75 oz, 77 gr) powdered, confectioners, or icing sugar
- PREP: Read through this recipe in its entirety to get a feel for the workflow. Before starting your crust, cut your butter into small 1/2″ pieces and place in the freezer to get very cold for about 15 minutes while you organize the rest of your ingredients.
- MIX THE CRUST: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Add the butter to the bowl and use a pastry cutter or a fork to cut the fat through the flour until it is evenly distributed in pea size pieces. Add the ice water to the bowl 1 tablespoon at a time and use a fork to gently nudge the flour into the water. Do not aggressively stir or mash the flour and butter down. Once large clumps of dough start forming, gather the dough up and press it together. If it crumbles, add a little more water. If it holds together than you are ready to chill. Press the dough together into a ball and wrap the dough in a piece of plastic wrap, pressing it down into a disk, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 3 days before using.
- MAKE THE PASTRY CREAM: In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until foamy and about double in size. Whisk the cornstarch into the egg/sugar mixture. In a saucepan, bring the coconut milk and whole milk to a boil. Slowly pour about half of the hot milk into the egg/cornstarch mixture while whisking continuously. A damp towel nestled around the mixing bowl can help it from sliding around while whisking. Pour the milk/egg mixture back into the pot with the remaining milk and cook over medium/low heat, whisking continuously, until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens. Pour the hot custard through a fine mesh sieve and stir in the vanilla extract, almond extract (if using), and butter while the custard is still hot. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the custard and refrigerate until ready to use.
- ROLL OUT THE PIE CRUST: Preheat your oven to 425 F (220 C). On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the pie crust to about 2″ wider than the diameter of your pie plate. Transfer the crust to the pie plate and lift up on the sides to let it naturally fall into the pie plate without stretching it. Trim and crimp the edges of the crust. If you are new to making pie crust, this pie crust guide can be helpful. Place the shaped crust back in the refrigerator to firm up and to relax the glutens while you toast the coconut, about 10 minutes. This helps prevent the crust from shrinking.
- TOAST THE COCONUT: Pour the coconut into a dry skillet over medium/low heat. Spread the coconut in a thin layer in the pan. Stay close by and stir occasionally until the coconut starts to smell toasted and turns a light brown color. Remove from heat and set aside.
- BAKE THE CRUST: Place a piece of parchment paper over the crust and fill it with pie weights, dried beans, or rice. Weighing down the dough keeps the crust from puffing up and shrinking in the oven. Bake at 425 F (420 C) for 12 minutes. Pull the crust out of the oven and remove the parchment with the pie weights. Return the crust to the oven for 5-7 more minutes until the bottom of the crust looks fully baked. (Note: This is a good time to put your mixing bowl and beaters in the freezer to get them cold for making whipped cream) Set the baked crust on a cooling rack to cool for at least 15 minutes before filling.
- MAKE THE WHIPPED CREAM: About 10 minutes before starting your whipped cream, put your mixing bowl and beaters in the freezer to get them chilled. This will help create a stable whipped cream. Combine the cold cream and powdered sugar in the mixing bowl. Beat on high speed until the cream thickens and holds stiff peaks. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- ASSEMBLE: Fold in 1 1/2 cups (3.5 oz, 98 gr) of the toasted coconut into the pastry cream and pour the mixture into the pie crust. If the filling is still not chilled, return to the refrigerator to chill completely before topping with the whipped cream. Top the pie with whipped cream and the remaining toasted coconut.
- STORE: Coconut cream pie should be stored covered in the refrigerator and will keep for up to 4 days.
- Sweetened Coconut Flakes can be substituted for the unsweetened coconut flakes. Reduce the sugar in the pastry cream to 1/2 cup (3.5 oz, 98 gr) if you opt to use sweetened coconut.
- Half-and-Half or Heavy Cream can be used in place of the coconut milk in the pastry cream. Add 1 tsp of coconut extract to the pastry cream if not using coconut milk.
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