Coconut Caramel Cream Pie
Customers have driven hours for this pie and been disappointed to find that we have sold out. Once, we shipped a pie across country packed in dry ice. Several features make her coconut cream pie memorable. First is its size, about 4 inches in diameter, baked in individual ring molds to provide the perfect ratio of filling to crust. The second is the crust itself, the flakiest I have tasted thanks to a secret ingredient, Sprite. The carbonation of the soda helps to lift the layers of fat and flour, creating many flaky layers. The last special touch is the top of the pie, which we sprinkle with sugar and burn with a torch like a crème brulee. This caramel flavor, together with a little caramel sauce in the bottom of the pie shell, complement the coconut very well. In the following recipe, most of the solid ingredients are measured in ounces rather than volume, since weight gives more accurate measurements for baked goods.
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- 1 recipe Pie Crust (recipe follows)
- 1 recipe Coconut Cream Pie Filling (recipe follows)
- 1/2 c. homemade or purchased caramel sauce
- sugar for caramelizing
- whipped cream for topping
- toasted shredded coconut for garnish
For the Pie Crust
- 2 3/4 oz. cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 2 c. all purpose flour
- 1/2 t. salt
- 4 1/3 oz. solid vegetable shortening
- 3/4 c. Sprite
For Coconut Cream Filling
- 3 1/4 c. whole milk
- 8 oz. sugar
- 1 3/4 oz. cornstarch
- 3/4 c. whole milk
- 13 egg yolks
- 1/2 t. salt
- 3 1/3 oz. unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 1 1/2 t. vanilla extract
- 10 oz. sweetened, shredded coconut
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a baking sheet, gently lower the pie dough rounds into your ring molds so that the dough comes up and over the sides of the molds. With a knife, trim excess dough from the top of the molds. Press a piece of parchment into the molds, completely covering the dough. Pour pie weights or dry beans onto the paper, at least half way up the sides of the molds, to keep the crust tight against the molds as they bake. Place in the pre-heated oven and bake until golden brown, about 35 minutes. Let cool completely. Remove weights and parchment. Pour a Tablespoon of caramel sauce in the bottom of each pie dough, then fill slightly over the top with Coconut Cream Pie Filling. Use a knife or spatula to level the filling so that you have a flat surface. Sprinkle a little sugar on top of each pie and caramelize using a propane torch. Sprinkle the top of each pie with toasted coconut, top with whipped cream, and sprinkle more toasted coconut on top of the whipped cream.
For Pie Crust
- Place cold, cubed butter in the bowl of a food processor. Add flour and salt. Pulse until butter is the size of marbles. Add shortening and Sprite and pulse until dough just comes together. You will still be able to see flecks of butter and shortening in the dough. Do not overmix. Shape dough into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Do not overhandle dough. Chill at least one hour. Using a rolling pin, roll dough out on a floured surface until it is 1/16 of an inch thick. Using a saucer or plate, cut out circles of dough to the size that will fit your molds, plus extra to go up the sides of the molds. Layer the dough rounds with parchment paper on a sheet pan and refrigerate or freeze.
For Coconut Cream Filling
- Heat the fiirst measure of milk and sugar in a heavy-bottomed pot until the milk boils. Turn heat to low. Stir the cornstarch into the second measure of milk and whisk into the hot milk in the pot. Cook for a few minutes until the custard thickens, stirring constantly. Add a little of the hot milk to the yolks and mix well, then add the yolk mixture and salt to the pot of thickened milk. Continue to cook over low heat for another minute, stirring constantly. Finally, stir in the butter, vanilla, and coconut and stir to combine. Transfer the coconut custard to a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap directly on top of the custard to avoid the formation of a skin, and refrigerate until cold.
- Beverage Suggestion: To pair well with a wine, a dessert should not be sweeter than the wine, and this is a very sweet dessert. Only the sweetest dessert wine, such as an Icewine, Muscat, or cream sherry, would pair well. A rich Porter, Stout, or Dopplebock would also be a fine partner.