It’s funny, growing up I didn’t realize that it wasn’t normal to have six or seven pies at a holiday dinner for nine or ten people. Pies were just part of the deal. And of course, everyone has their favorite pie…and you HAVE to have pumpkin. And a fruit pie (or two). And chocolate. And pecan…you get the picture.
It wasn’t until I married my husband and he started attending our big holiday meals that I realized that it was uncommon to have a 1:1 people-to-pie ratio. He thought we were a little nuts, actually. And while I’m sure he still thinks we’re a little nuts, he doesn’t complain…how could you? A pie per person? Doesn’t sound like a problem to me!
This recipe is one of my favorites from my Grandma R. She made AMAZING pies, and this coconut cream pie ranks right up as an all-time favorite dessert for my whole family. I decided to switch it up a bit and make mini-pies for brunch last weekend and they turned out great, a perfect little two-bite dessert. Unless you’re my brother – he managed to shove the whole thing in his mouth…
You can simplify this recipe if you want. You could do store-bought crust, cook-and-serve coconut pudding as the filling, and a bit of whipped-topping. But honestly, the result won’t be the same. Try it this way, first! And experiment with different fillings – try chocolate, butterscotch, vanilla…the possibilities are endless.
Sift into a mixing bowl:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2/3 cups shortening
Using a pastry blender or fork, cut the shortening into the flour mixture until it consists of small, pea-sized lumps. Work quickly so the shortening doesn’t soften too much.
Sprinkle the ice water over the flour mixture a Tablespoon at a time. Stir with a fork until just enough water has been added so that you can pat the dough lightly into a ball. You may not need all of the water. Handle the dough as little as possible and do not knead it. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees and spray two muffin tins with cooking spray. Remove dough from refrigerator and divide the dough in half. Roll each half of the dough out between two pieces of wax paper, sprinkled with a very small amount of flour to prevent sticking. Remove the top sheet of wax paper and use a pastry cutter or a 4″ circle to cut as many circles out as possible before re-rolling and cutting more. You should be able to get 14-16 circles cut.
Push the circles of dough into the muffin tins. Lightly press the dough against the sides of the tins. Use pastry weights to prevent dough from bubbling or puffing up. Bake 10-12 minutes or until crust begins to turn golden brown. Don’t over bake, and watch these closely since all ovens vary. Remove from cupcake tins using a fork and let cool on a wire rack.
Coconut Cream Filling:
4 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 and 1/2 cups sugar
7oz sweetened coconut
3 Tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup milk
1/2 cup half and half or whipping cream
3 egg yolks (save the egg whites, they can be used for your meringue)
Whisk egg yolks together in a small bowl. Set aside. In a medium/large heavy bottomed saucepan, mix sugar and cornstarch together with a whisk until completely combined. Add milk and whisk until combined. Turn on low heat and stir mixture continuously until it begins to thicken. Once it starts to thicken, use a ladle to add a small amount of the warm milk mixture to your egg mixture to temper the eggs. Mix well, then add the egg mixture back to the saucepan and quickly whisk together, and cook for at least two minutes. Add the butter and whip with whisk until butter is melted. When filling is sufficiently thick, add vanilla and coconut (reserving a small amount to sprinkle as garnish). Remove from heat and let sit until the mixture cools enough to put into a piping bag. Pipe mixture into each of the cooled shells, and prepare meringue topping.
3 egg whites at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
6 Tablespoons sugar
Wipe down your mixing bowl and wire whisk attachment with lemon juice to ensure they are grease free. Beat eggwhites until they become frothy, then add the cornstarch, sugar and vanilla. Continue to beat until eggwhites are stiff and glossy. Either pipe or spoon a large dollop of meringue on the top of each mini-pie, and sprinkle with remaining coconut. Bake in the oven at 425 degrees or until the meringue begins to brown.
I like these warm, cold and just out of the oven. Totally up to you!
Recipe thanks to my Grandma!