Coconut Cream Pie

Most people get a birthday cake, but my Dad and my Grandpa Marvin would rather have birthday pie.  My dad is a lemon meringue pie fan, and my grandpa loves coconut cream.  

Grandpa Marvin turned 89 on March 7th, so I made him a birthday pie!  

This pie is a bit laborious, but worth it.  The crust is something special, using ground animal crackers and coconut as the base.  


So, it ends up being a cross between a pie and cheesecake in texture.  The filling is rich and not overly sweet.  You can use sweetened coconut if that’s all you can find, but I’ve made this with sweetened and unsweenetend coconut…and the unsweetened is better, in my humble opinion.

This recipe is from Cooks Illustrated, a magazine that I used to get a few years ago.  I really liked the magazine and the website.  There are some recipes that you can get access to without an online subscription, but not all of them.  Of the 12 that I clicked on this morning, 2 of those were accessible.  The others require you to join.  I like the detail in the recipes and the tips and trouble shooting that Americas Test Kitchen provides.  You won’t get those tips without paying the price!  It is worth it for those people who like to know the reasons behind why something cooks or bakes the way it does.

Coconut Cream Pie (courtesy of America’s Test Kitchen)




5 ounces animal crackers

2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

5  tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 can coconut milk (14 ounces)

1 cup whole milk

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1/2 cup granulated sugar + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

3/8 teaspoon table salt

5 large egg yolks

1/4 cup cornstarch

2 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into 2 pieces

1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whipped Cream and Garnish:

1 1/2 cups heavy cream (cold)

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon unsweetened shredded coconut toasted


Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees F. 

In food processor, pulse animal crackers, coconut, and sugar to fine crumbs, eighteen to twenty 1-second pulses; then process until powdery, about 5 seconds.pie4

Transfer crumbs to medium bowl and add butter; stir to combine until crumbs are evenly moistened. Empty crumbs into 9-inch glass pie plate; using bottom of ramekin or 1/2 cup dry measuring cup, press crumbs evenly into bottom and up sides of pie plate.pie5

Bake until fragrant and medium brown, about 15 minutes, rotating pie shell halfway through baking time. Set on wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

Bring coconut milk, whole milk, shredded coconut, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt to simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to ensure that sugar dissolves. In a separate bowl, whisk yolks, cornstarch, and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar until thoroughly combined. Whisking constantly, gradually ladle about 1 cup hot milk mixture over yolk mixture; whisk well to combine. Whisking constantly, gradually add remaining milk mixture to yolk mixture in 3 or 4 additions; whisk well to combine. Return mixture to saucepan and cook until thickened and mixture reaches boil, whisking constantly, about 1 minute; filling must boil in order to fully thicken. (To determine whether filling has reached boil, stop whisking; large bubbles should quickly burst on surface.) Off heat, whisk in butter and vanilla until butter is fully incorporated. Pour hot filling into cooled pie shell and smooth surface with rubber spatula.  pie7

Press plastic wrap directly against surface of filling and refrigerate until firm, at least 3 hours and up to 12 hours.  


Just before serving, beat cream, sugar, and vanilla with electric mixer until soft peaks form, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.


Top pie with whipped cream and then sprinkle with coconut.


Cut pie into wedges and serve.

Recipe reprinted by permission of America’s Test Kitchen. All rights reserved