You guys .... apparently I am having a coconut/tropical themed thanksgiving this year. Do you want to come? I have plenty of coconut chili brussel sprout slaw and coconut cream pie to go around.
I am not really sure why I have gone on a coconut binge this year. Maybe it's the fact that it was 20 degrees last week in nyc, or maybe I am wishing I lived somewhere warm where the dead of winter will never arrive. Or ..... maybe I just love coconut. Not only is it my favorite substitute for dairy, it might actually work better than dairy in some recipes. Case in point, coconut cream pie.
Last week we talked about how I like to keep it minimal for thanksgiving and the holidays, but PIE. Pie is where things get crazy. I will never make just one pie. I usually will make 2-3 (from scratch) depending on how many guests. There will always be an apple pie with an all-butter crust, and then something a little different. Last year, I purchased The Four & Twenty Balckbrids Pie Book, and if you're not already familiar, the book is filled with uncommon takes on traditional pies that are SO creative and so decadent. Granted, these are not the usual goods that are being baked up in my kitchen, so I always try and put my own dairy-free, etc etc spin on things. Sometimes it works .... sometimes it totally fails. Not everything was meant to be transformed into a healthier version of itself.
This year, I tackled their pistachio coconut cream pie because .... well, coconut (apparently) ... and because the crust was an amazing 3 ingredient, gluten-free genius combination with toasted coconut and pistachios. I took it in my own direction and switched out the refined sugar in the crust for maple syrup and I added a little bit of melted coconut oil to hold it all together, and it turned out just perfect. Then, to tackle the filling, I took out the dairy (milk, and butter) and switched it for a quick cashew milk and some coconut oil, which is always my favorite fat substitute. I did leave the egg yolks because I felt they were necessary, and farm fresh eggs are always welcome in my home. But if you are vegan or do not want to use the eggs, I do not see why you cannot leave them out. It just might be a little runnier so you can use the freezer method I describe in the recipe below. Last but never least, instead of making the traditional whipped cream, you know that was a no-brainer sub with coconut whipped cream.
So here we are, with a pie recipe that I am super proud of, but was very much inspired and helped along by one of my favorite (indulgent) cookbooks. It will certainly be one of the pies for my coconut-tropical themed thanksgiving, and very likely again over the holidays.
coconut cream pie | pistachio + toasted coconut crust (gf+df)
Adapted and inspired by the pistachio coconut cream pie in The Four & Twenty Balckbrids Pie Book.
A few things to note: As I mentioned, I do feel like this pie can be made completely vegan by omitting the egg yolks, however, I did not try it so I cannot vouch for it. If you do try it, please let me know, but I would suggest following the instructions for freezing, because it will hold it together better. Also, I gave the option for white or coconut palm sugar for the filling. I tried it with both, and there was not much of a difference in taste, but the coconut palm sugar gives it a darker hue. SInce I am from the mindset that "sugar is sugar" I would recommend using the white here if you want a prettier color pie filling. Lastly …. don't forget to put your canned coconut milk in the fridge the day/night before serving.
MAKES a 9" pie
for the crust:
3/4 cup of pistachios, shells removed + unsalted
3/4 cup of shredded unsweetened coconut
2 tablespoons of maple syrup
a pinch of sea salt
2 tablespoons of coconut oil, melted
***add a tablespoon of coconut and pistachios to toast if you want them to top the pie.
for the coconut cream filling:
2/3 cup of cashews
2 1/2 cups of water
4 large egg yolks
5 tablespoons of tapioca starch (or potato or corn starch)
1/2 cup of coconut palm sugar (or regular white sugar)
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups of full fat coconut milk (the kind in a bpa-free can)
the zest of 1 lime
1 tablespoon of lime juice
2 tablespoons of coconut oil
for the coconut whip topping:
1 can of full fat coconut milk (refrigerated overnight)
2 tablespoons of powdered sugar
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon of almond extract (optional)
Make the crust:
- Toast the pistachios in a small pan over medium-low heat for 5-7 minutes, until fragrant. Set aside in a bowl to cool.
- Then, add the shredded coconut to the same pan, and toast over medium-low heat for 2-3 minutes until light brown. Add to the bowl with the pistachios and allow it all to cool for a few minutes.
- In a food processor, add the toasted coconut, pistachios (be sure to remove the extra tablespoon of each if you are reserving for the topping) and salt and pulse until you have a very fine consistency. Then, add the maple syrup and melted coconut oil and pulse a few more times until everything is combined and you have a sticky mixture.
- Place the mixture into the center of an un-greased metal pie dish, and work the mixture into the dish using your fingers. You will want to wet the tips of your fingers to prevent the mixture from sticking. Do this until it is pressed evenly into the pie pan and up the sides.
- Place the crust in the freezer for at least 10 minutes or until you are ready to fill. You can make this a few days ahead if you like.
Prepare the filling:
- Place the cashews and water into a high-powered blender such as a vitamix. Blend on high for a couple of minutes until you have a smooth milk-like consistency.
- In a large bowl, whisk the yolks until smooth and the set aside.
- In a medium sauce pan, combine the cashew milk (that you just made), starch, sugar, salt, vanilla, coconut milk, and lime zest. Whisk to combine the ingredients, then place it on the stove over medium heat. Bring it to a slow boil, while stirring constantly. Once the mixture feels thick and pudding-like, turn the heat off.
- Spoon the mixture into the bowl with the egg yolks, a little at a time, whisking constantly to prevent the egg from cooking. Once the yolks are incorporated, you can pour in the rest of the coconut milk mixture and stir to combine everything. Then pour the mixture back into the saucepan. Keep the bowl nearby.
- Place the saucepan over medium heat, and bring to a boil and stirring constantly. Cook for 1-2 minutes longer, and then remove it from the heat and pour the mixture back into the large bowl. Add the lime juice and the coconut oil, and stir to combine. Allow it to cool slightly before adding it to the crust, stirring occasionally to prevent a film from forming.
- Once the filling has cooled for about 10 minutes, then add it to the pie shell, and place it in the fridge for 4 hours. OR you can place it in the freezer, you will just need to remove it to allow it to warm up for about 45 minutes - 1 hour before serving.
Make the coconut whip + top the pie:
- Do this step after you pie has set in the freezer or fridge and right before you are ready to serve. If your pie was in the freezer, you want it to defrost for at least 30 minutes before adding the whip to the pie.
- When you open the can of coconut milk, separate the coconut water from the thick coconut milk. Pour the watery coconut into a bowl and reserve it for another use. Then place the thick coconut milk that is left into a stand mixer, or a mixing bowl (and have a hand mixer ready).
- Add the powdered sugar, salt, and extract, and whip the coconut until you have an almost whipped cream like texture. It won't be as light and fluffy as whipped cream, but it will be kinda close.
- Using a spatula, spread the coconut whip over the top of the pie evenly. Top with some chopped toasted pistachios and toasted coconut and serve.