SMS: Coconut Custard Pie

Anxious anticipation does not begin to describe the build up of emotion brought on by this pie. After noticing it pop up as an upcoming SMS recipe, I began contemplating the perfect opportunity to present it to my Mom, a woman who’s undeniably cuckoo for coconut. As a May recipe, the timing seemed meant to be- Mother’s Day was just around the corner, and I thought it would definitely win me some daughterly brownie points if served as her celebratory dessert. I even considered making individual tartlets to give it some additional panache (I’ve been dying to break in my new pans!), but at the last minute chickened out, fearing that without specific directions on the bake time, I might not be able to accurately assess when they were done. For the best mom in the whole world, it had to be perfect, and neither soupy, curdled, or over-baked custard would do.

I got as far as halfway through crimping before my energy faded away, and sadly came to the conclusion this pie would not reach completion in time for the holiday. Fortunately, I am blessed to have the most understanding, compassionate, encouraging mom on the planet, and sensing I was heartbroken with disappointment, she immediately put my mind at ease, offering to delay festivities for her special day until I was feeling better. A few weeks went by with my unbaked pie crust chilling out in the freezer, yet she waited patiently, without a single complaint, until finally the day arrived when the pie emerged from the oven, everything I had imagined and more: golden brown and bubbly with coconut glistening, filling our home with an aroma reminiscent of an island breeze. After it cooled, was garnished with some fresh whipped cream rosettes, sliced and plated, my Mom could finally take that first bite she’d been longing for since my first mention of the recipe… without hesitation she released a deep and enthusiastic sigh, an ear-to-ear grin plastered on her face. I guess it was all she imagined and more too. In that moment, witnessing her priceless reaction, I think we both felt like the recipients of a very special gift.

When I first read this recipe’s title, I was intrigued and curious about the distinction between a Coconut Custard Pie and a Coconut Cream Pie (something I was more familiar with). I thought it might just be a different name (maybe Melissa wanted it to sound fancy and refined, who knows?) It turns out that although they contain like ingredients, they are not in fact one and the same. A “custard pie” is any type of uncooked custard mixture (commonly composed of milk, eggs, sugar, salt, vanilla extract and sometimes nutmeg) added to an uncooked or partially cooked crust and baked together. Cheesecake, pumpkin pie, lemon meringue, and pecan pie all fall under this category. Alternatively, a “cream pie” is a pie that contains cooked custard poured into a cooled, (fully) precooked crust. After clearing that up, I made sure to alert my Mom, so she wouldn’t be surprised and confused, as this kind of coconut pie was foreign to her taste buds. With expectations adjusted I was ready to proceed with baking, keeping my fingers crossed that as long as coconut remained the star of the show, she’d still swoon over the finished product.

I was pleased to pieces with the simplicity of this pie’s assembly- throw all the custard ingredients a blender, pulse a few times, pour it over the coconut lining the crust, and viola!- it’s ready to pop in the oven. I did hit one little snag, however, with a seemingly odd amount of cornstarch called for in the recipe, not in keeping with any of my measuring utensils. 2/3 teaspoon? What’s with that? Teaspoons are never broken down into thirds- after excessive re-reading and double checking, I even took the book over to my Mom to make sure my eyes were still working. I subscribe to the theory that baking is a science, and measurements are given for a reason- precision is necessary if you want the recipe to work and attain the desired result. I did the math, and decided that 1/2 teaspoon plus a rounded 1/8 of a teaspoon would come closest, but I was definitely not a happy camper, fearing that would surely mean the end of my Coconut Custard Pie. Luckily, it seemed to have no ill effect- but, did anyone else notice this? Hmmm… I’m interested to hear if it was just me.

Though I wasn’t 100% sure that my pie was done at the allotted time, I’m glad I pulled it out with a slight jiggle in the middle. As it cooled, it set up perfectly- creamy, dreamy, and luscious. Every morsel was bursting with coconut flavor (I did give both the custard and my whipped cream a boost, adding a splash of coconut extract, but I think even without it, this pie would please any self-proclaimed coconut connoisseur.) The balance of richness was spot on- rich enough to be a little indulgence, yet light enough to enjoy more than a tiny sliver. The crust was buttery and flakey… though Melissa’s all-butter pie dough recipe won’t replace my go-to (which does contain shortening), it’s a nice alternative, rolled out easily, and was a great complement to the pie’s filling. One sure-fire way to judge a baked good’s deliciousness factor: if it’s polished off quickly- well, let’s just say this one certainly didn’t last long in our household!

I can’t say thank you enough to Ruby of I Dream of Baking for her FABULOUS SMS selection- I urge you to head on over to her site and scoop up this recipe. It’s a keeper for sure! And as always, don’t forget to check out all the other talented bakers’ pies, which were actually posted on Sunday… please pardon my tardiness (I was having a rough day health wise yesterday, which meant postponing my post). I can’t wait to see if this recipe was as big a hit with their families as it was with mine…

including the fluffiest member 🙂 (Don’t worry, Bella didn’t really get any!)


17 responses

  1. Hi Joy,

    This pie was a definite WOW. As you mentioned I love coconut, and this Coconut Custard Pie, did not disappoint. It was as delicious as you described and then some. Thank you for making something so wonderful, and extending my Mother’s Day to every day. It is even more meaningful, as I know how hard it has been for you considering your health. You are truly a treasure!
    With lots of Love,

  2. Joy:

    Uncle Steve shares your mother’s love of coconut, so this one’s going on my “to try” list. Don’t know if I can duplicate the lovely whipped cream decorations, though! 🙂
    Glad to see you’re back posting.

    Aunt Karen

  3. Wow, this looks amazing! I was unable to try my own cake, but this looks great! I love the rosettes of whipped cream around the cake! You have an awesome mom who understands.

    I hope you feel better soon!

  4. This looks divine! And I love the look on Bella’s face, like she’s saying, “Hmmm…maybe she won’t notice if I just have a little lick…”


  5. What a gorgeous pie! Now I’m even happier we chose this recipe; hooray for coconut lovers! My family loved the pie, but I loved the simplicity of the recipe 🙂 Thanks so much for baking with me this week!

  6. Hey Joy!

    So sorry to hear you haven’t been feeling well. That’s got to be tough. Hope you’re back on your feet soon 🙂

    Your pie is gorgeous and I’m glad to hear it lived up to your mom’s expectations! I’m totally with you on the 2/3 teaspoon – that was random. I’ve often wondered why there isn’t a 1/3 teaspoon but for whatever reason, there isn’t and I’m like you, I want to be precise. Oh well….

    Thanks for dropping by my site. I’m enjoying my mini vacation lots 🙂

    Take care,

  7. Hello Joy!
    Sorry it took me so long to get over to your lovely blog. We just got home from our vacation to Mount Rushmore! The trip was fabulous!
    Thank you for all of your kind words on my blog, you have to be the sweetest blogging buddy I have;)
    Your pie looks amazing and from the sounds of it your mom was very pleased! I really enjoyed that crust, it was like a cookie!
    You mentioned the coconut extract. I am interested in hearing more about it:) I love new baking ingredients..well I love anything that has to do with baking!
    Have a great evening!

  8. Hi Joy, it was great to see you stopped by my site! Unfortunately I have not been able to keep up with bloggy stuff and visiting my SM friends quite as much as I like. I’m glad to hear that you like Cook’s Illustrated as much as I do; their recipes are so reliable and I learn so many great tips from the articles.

    Your coconut pie looks gorgeous, I’m glad it turned out so well for your mom! I wasn’t able to make this one (hopefully soon) since we had a Coconut Banana Ice Cream Pie for TWD the same week. I highly recommend that recipe, too; the coconut crust is amazing – I think any coconut-lover like your mom would love it. The recipe is up on our Sweet Melissa friend Spike’s site.

    Love the picture of Bella! I hope she is doing well and that you are feeling better this week. Thanks for thinking of Eloise. She is well, though very hot with the change in weather!

  9. Thanks for your kind comments about our move! Thankfully, it went about as smoothly as I could have asked, although it was sad to have to come back to NE to finish up school. Although, I did get to break in the new kitchen. My husband has been begging me to make a cheesecake, so I figured that was a good way to start 🙂

    Don’t worry about the praline post at all. I’m just glad you enjoyed making them. Life gets busy, and it’s never worth stressing yourself out further. I completely understand that 🙂

    Glad to see that you and your family enjoyed the coconut custard pie! That one is still on my “to do list” as it was smack in the middle of our move. I hope all is well!

  10. Hey Joy –

    Pardon the tardiness of my comment as I was a little behind. I could not not leave you a little something though as this pie looks picture perfect. You have such incredible skills.

    Where have you been? We miss you. Hope you have a good holiday weekend and look forward to hearing from you.

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