Cream pies are not my first choice in the world of pies. They really aren’t my second or third choices either. I’m much more a fruit pie kind of gal. But if someone puts a piece of cream pie in front of me, I’m going to eat it. And if Martha puts a bunch of cream pie recipes in her baking handbook, then I’m going to bake them.
A decorative element for this pie are “Coconut Curls.” These are one of those things Martha is famous for – a relatively minor detail that enhances the sophistication of the pie and takes a heap load of extra work. First, you find yourself a coconut and poke out two of the eyes.
Then you bake it for 30 minutes (I left it in the oven for an hour and a half). You smash it with a hammer to get at the coconut flesh. The process is pretty physical and messy. You’ve then got to clean off all of the skin and muck that sticks to the coconut flesh.
This cleaning process is not so easy, as the baked coconut excretes a lot of oil as you handle it. That skin is really stuck on there too, I had to use a sharp knife to kind-of shave it off bit by bit. And it doesn’t smell very pleasant either – nothing like what you’d expect baked coconut to smell like. It has a real musky odor. Eventually you get a clean bit of coconut to work with.
I tasted some of the coconut juice and then some of the flesh and neither was very appetizing. It makes me feel all the more sorry for people cast away on deserted islands.
The MSBH says to use a vegetable peeler to shave off strips of the coconut but this just was not working for me. The coconut was way too slippery and oily – I’d just get a lot of oil coating my peeler. I ended up using my mandoline and my shaved pieces were fairly thick. Needless to say they didn’t curl at all. They are toasted in an oven.
The pie is made using half (one disc) of the MSBH recipe for pâte brisée. It’s blind baked and then you coat the crust with melted semi-sweet chocolate. The chocolate is meant to keep the crust from getting soggy once the custard is poured in.
The custard is made entirely with coconut milk – no dairy – which makes me think this recipe could easily be adjusted to be vegan. You do use eggs, but I imagine tofu could be incorporated to the same end. I’ll have to try it sometime.
Whipped cream is spread on top of the custard and then on went the coconut “curls” and some chocolate shavings. Not the prettiest thing in the world, but it tastes wonderful (for a cream pie).