It's This Week's Cravings time, and this week we are all about pies!
But first...want to hear a story?
It happened about 7 years ago. I was in college and getting ready for an event I was coordinating for my Intervarsity chapter...pie night. :-) It was going to be a great night. We had a pie eating contest, pie baking contest, and, as an officer, I was getting pied in the face!
Knowing that I was just going to end up covered in whip cream and chocolate pudding, I didn't bother fixing my hair or putting on makeup. I got dressed in the absolute worst clothes that I owned. My friends curiously tried to stop me...for some strange reason, they kept encouraging me to curl my hair or apply a bit of mascara. Ha! I knew better. I was having none of that.
After dinner, a friend and I were walking back to my room holding the coconut cream pies that I had baked for that night's competition. When I opened my door, I was greeted with such a surprise that I almost dropped my pie! My boyfriend (now husband) was standing in the middle of the room dressed to the nines. He had driven the 8 hours from his university just to come see me.
And I was wearing no makeup, unflattering clothes, and...well...we won't even talk about my hair.
As excited as I was to see him, I couldn't just ditch pie night. So, we grabbed my pies and headed out. I participated in the pie eating contest, covering my face with chocolate pudding. I got pied in the face, getting whip cream all up my nose. And then, it was time for the pie contest. I presented my coconut cream pies to the judges...and won first place!
My boyfriend enjoyed watching the love of his life get covered in sugary treats, but he really loved the pie tasting. I think that coconut cream pie was the first pie of mine that he had ever tasted.
We got back to my dorm room later that night, my hair all matted with whip cream and my face still smudged with chocolate pudding. Oh, I looked like a real catch, let me tell you. And then...would you believe it...
He dropped down on one knee and proposed!
I said no (seriously!), we dated for three more years, and then we got married in 2007. But here's my point: would anyone ever consider proposing marriage to someone atrociously dressed and covered in chocolate pudding and whip cream? Nope, I'm convinced it was the coconut cream pie that won his affections. I think it will win yours, too.
I didn't want to run to the store to buy a pie crust, and I was too lazy to make a real pie crust, so I devised a different strategy for this pie. It's a delicious and easy alternative that goes amazingly with the flavors of this pie.
Combine 2 cups flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 cup cold butter (2 sticks) in a bowl.
Using a pastry cutter, cut into the mixture until it resembles small coarse crumbs.
Spray a pie dish with cooking spray, and then pat the crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of the dish. You may not use all of the crumbs depending on how thick you want your pie crust to be. Bake it at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes, or until it's lightly browned. Let it cool while you make the rest of the pie.
For the pie filling, combine 3/4 cup sugar, 3 tablespoons cornstarch, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small saucepan. Gradually stir in 2 cups of milk. Cook and stir it over medium high heat until it gets bubbly, and then continue cooking for 2 more minutes. Take it from me - do not stop stirring for one minute! You don't want the milk to burn. After the 2 minutes is up, remove it from the heat.
Break 3 eggs, separating the yolks from the whites. You'll use the yolks in the filling and the whites for the meringue, so don't throw anything away! Slightly beat the yolks.
Stir a good sized amount (about 1/2 cup) of the hot mixture into your yolks, and then immediately pour the yolks into the saucepan. Cook for another 2 minutes, stirring constantly. After the 2 minutes is up, remove it from the heat.
Add a teaspoon of vanilla, 2 tablespoons of butter, 1/4 teaspoon of coconut extract, and 1/2 cup of flaked coconut. Stir until mixed.
Pour your filling into your baked pie shell. Now it's time for the meringue!
For the meringue, beat together your 3 egg whites with 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar just until soft peaks form (like pictured below).
Gradually add 6 tablespoons of sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating as you do it. Continue beating until stiff and glossy peaks form (like below). Don't just rely on looks, though. The key to a good meringue is making sure all of the sugar dissolves. To do that, rub a little bit of the meringue in between two fingers - if you can still feel sugar granules, keep on beating!
Spread the meringue over the pie filling, sealing it at the edges of the pastry. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of flaked coconut over the top.
Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the meringue is absolutely beautiful.
Once the pie has cooled, cut into slices and enjoy. Who knows...maybe it will even land you a proposal! :-)
Coconut Cream Pie with Crumb Crust
2 cups flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 cup cold butter
1 t. vanilla
1/4 t. salt
Mix together flour, salt, and powdered sugar. Add vanilla and butter; using a pastry cutter, cut butter into flour mixture until mixture resembles crumbs. Spray pie plate with cooking spray and then press crumbs into bottom and up the sides. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes, or until lightly browned.
3/4 cup sugar
3 T. cornstarch
1/4 t. salt
2 cups milk
3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
2 T. butter
1 t. vanilla
1/4 t. coconut extract
3/4 cup flaked coconut, divided
In a saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Gradually stir in milk. Cook and stir over medium high heat until it begins to bubble (stir continually so it doesn't burn!). Cook and stir for 2 minutes and then remove from heat. Stir a moderate amount of hot mixture into yolks. Immediately whisk the yolks into the hot mixture; cook for 2 more minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Add butter, vanilla, coconut extract, and 1/2 cup of flaked coconut. Pour into baked and cooled pie crust. Spread meringue on top of pie, sealing to the edge of the pastry, and sprinkle with remaining flaked coconut. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Cool.
3 egg whites
1/2 t. vanilla
1/4 t. cream of tartar
6 T. sugar
Beat egg whites with vanilla and cream of tartar till soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, beating until stiff and glossy peaks form and all sugar has dissolved.
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