Coconut Dream Pie

5 stars based on 10 votes

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I always make my husband something special for his birthday. This year, I went all out and decided to re-create one of his all-time favorite desserts: the signature Coconut Cream Pie from The Capital Grille. I couldn’t find any recipes online, so — long shot — I emailed the folks over at Capital Grille and asked for the recipe. I was shocked: they sent it to me.

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Like most restaurant recipes, the quantities were huge so I had to fiddle with it a bit, and the crust was mysteriously missing so I had to improvise, but the results were spectacular: a coconut-scented cookie crust filled with creamy coconut custard, all covered in a pillow of whipped cream and heaps of toasted coconut. Just like at the restaurant…heaven!

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Now, by the looks of it, you’d think this pie would be difficult to make. Not exactly. I’ll be honest, with three separate components and five different forms of coconut, it’s definitely a pastry chef’s recipe — but that’s what makes it so incredible. Count on it taking a little time but know that it’s not hard; as long as you follow the instructions, it’ll come out great.

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The crust is a cinch. It’s made with shortbread cookie crumbs, sweetened flaked coconut and melted butter. Just whirl it all in a food processor until you have crumbs, then press it into a tart shell.

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The filling is a custard made with coconut milk and cream of coconut. The only tricky part is that you have to temper the eggs. All that means is that you need to raise the temperature of the eggs so that when hot ingredients are added in, the eggs won’t scramble. No worries, I walk you through it in the recipe.

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The topping comes together quickly. You simply whip some heavy cream with sugar and coconut rum until soft peaks form, then spread it onto the tart. Top it off with golden coconut flakes and you’re done.

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I hope you’ll try this pie. By all accounts, mine was a huge success; my husband loved it and everyone raved. Honestly, I don’t think there’s a better Coconut Cream Pie out there.

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Enjoy!

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Coconut Dream Pie

Servings: Makes one 10-inch pie/tart that serves 8-10

Ingredients

For the Crust

  • 7-1/2 ounces shortbread cookies, such as Walker's Pure Butter Shortbread, finely ground (if you don't have a baking scale, it's 11 Walker's rectangular cookies, from 2 boxes)
  • 1-1/4 cups loosely packed sweetened flaked coconut
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the Custard

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, packed
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch, packed
  • Pinch salt
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons Malibu Rum (coconut-flavored rum)
  • 5 tablespoons Cream of Coconut (stir well before using)
  • 1 cup coconut milk (stir well before using)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter

For Whipped Cream and Topping

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Malibu Rum
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted in a skillet until golden and cooled (see note below)

Instructions

For the Crust

  1. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Pulse the cookie crumbs, coconut, and melted butter in a food processor until coconut is finely ground. Using a ½ cup dry measuring cup, press the crumbs firmly and evenly into the bottom and up the sides of a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Bake until golden, 15-18 minutes, then cool completely in the pan on a rack (you can speed this up in the fridge or freezer). If it shrinks or cracks a bit, simply press it back together and up the sides while it's still hot.

For the Filling

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the Malibu rum, cream of coconut, coconut milk and whole milk. Bring to a boil; then turn off the heat. Whisking constantly, slowly ladle about a cup of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture; whisk well to combine. Whisking constantly, gradually add the remaining milk mixture to the egg mixture in 3 or 4 additions; whisk well to combine. Return the mixture to the sauce pan. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture reaches a boil and thickens, about 2 minutes. The filling must boil for at least 30 seconds in order to fully thicken. Off the heat, whisk in the butter until fully incorporated.
  3. Pour the hot filling into the cooled pie shell and smooth the surface with a spatula; press plastic wrap directly against the surface of the filling and refrigerate until firm, at least 3 hours and up to 10 hours. (Any longer than 10 hours and the crust will start to soften.)

For the Topping & To Serve

  1. Up to 3 hours before serving, beat the cream, sugar and Malibu Rum with an electric mixer until soft peaks form, 1½ - 2 minutes. Top the pie with whipped cream and sprinkle with cooled toasted coconut.
  2. Carefully remove the rim from the pan by gently pressing upwards on the bottom while holding the rim in place. Cut into wedges, wiping your knife clean between slices, and serve cold.
  3. Note: Unsweetened coconut flakes can usually be found at Whole Foods or organic markets. If you can't find them, feel free to substitute ½ cup sweetened flaked coconut (the stuff in the blue bag available everywhere). Simply toast it in a 350 degree oven, stirring often so it browns evenly, until lightly golden.
  4. Note: This recipe should be made in a 10" tart pan with a removable bottom. A pie plate won't work as well or be as pretty! You can find tart pans very inexpensively at most kitchenware stores. I got mine for $10 at Williams-Sonoma.

Reviews & Comments

  • Do you use unsweetened coconut milk in this recipe?

    - Jude on July 2, 2015 Reply
    • Hi Jude, Yes, that’s correct.

      - Jenn on July 3, 2015 Reply
  • I’d like to be able to serve this to a group that includes children but the rum in the whipped cream topping doesn’t get cooked out – can you suggest a substitute? I know I could leave it out of the topping, but would that make the overall end flavor flat? Thanks!

    - Erin on July 2, 2015 Reply
    • Hi Erin, It’s perfectly fine to leave the rum out — instead you could add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Enjoy!

      - Jenn on July 2, 2015 Reply
  • Can I use an 8.5 imch cake tin?

    - Caroline on June 15, 2015 Reply
    • Hi Caroline, That’s a little small; I’d stick with the larger size.

      - Jenn on June 16, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    My husband and I had this dessert at The Capital Grille a few years ago and LOVED it. I came across this recipe in an attempt to recreate it for him, and I’m so glad I did! It has become a staple at our family’s Easter meal-always requested. I also just won my first dessert competition at a county festival with it (attributed here, of course)! Thank you Jenn!! Everyone loves this pie!

    - Katelyn B on June 13, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    My family loved the pie! It is easy to do since you provided excellent directions. Thanks again Jenn for another winner!

    - Susie on May 17, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Oh my sweet goodness! This coconut pie looks wonderful! I am going to the market right away and pick up the ingredients to make. I thought I had the best coconut pie recipe but I do believe this one has mine beat. Thank you

    - Harriet on May 16, 2015 Reply
  • 4 stars

    This is a dream. Very important to lightly toast those coconut shavings and not use that vile coconut pairings and sugar stuff that they sell in the grocery store (bleh). I used coconut cream from Trader Joe’s (same thing I’m pretty sure)

    - Margot C on May 11, 2015 Reply
  • Hi,

    I am wondering if the rum is necessary, or can be replaced with something? Does the alcohol eventually cook out once the pie is baked, or can you still taste it? I am a big fan of coconut, but I don’t drink any alcohol, so that is the only thing turning me off of trying this recipe.

    - Shannon on May 6, 2015 Reply
    • Hi Shannon, You can’t taste it at all but it’s fine to just replace it with more coconut milk — it will still be delicious :)

      - Jenn on May 9, 2015 Reply
  • Can I use plain rum instead of coconut rum? I would hate to buy a whole new bottle if I didn’t have to.

    - Mary on April 2, 2015 Reply
    • Hi Mary, Yes, that’s perfectly fine. Enjoy!

      - Jenn on April 2, 2015 Reply
  • I have an 11″ tart pan, what would you increase the ingredients by?

    - Bronwyn L. on March 31, 2015 Reply
    • Hi Bronwyn, I’d probably try to increase everything by about 25%.

      - Jenn on April 6, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Wow!!!!!!!!!!!!! This pie was awesome!!!!! I sampled this pie at “Full Moon”” a barbecue restaurant here in the South. Well to say the least I am not a coconut fan. After sampling a bite of my husbands slice I was in heaven. At that point I proceeded to go online to see if I could find a receipe simular. Well yours was awesome! !! My husband and coworkers loved it. Keep posting excellent receipes like this!!

    - lacey on March 5, 2015 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I don’t even know where to begin with this recipe. So, I’ll start with WOW! My Dad is a huge fan of coconut desserts, especially coconut cream pie and this is the same concept. Just a few changes I had to make; I have an 11in tart pan, which worked fine, I also didn’t have Malibu rum, I used banana liquor and I didn’t have whole milk, I used 1%. I was also too lazy to make the whipped cream, so I served it with a little dollop of Redi whip and garnished it with toasted coconut. So all in all, it was almost identical to the recipe…Let me just say, it didn’t even need the whipped cream, my Dad said it was the best coconut dessert he’s had! So enough said! The custard is this magical, creamy, fluffy, coconutty dream!

    - Lana on January 5, 2015 Reply
  • Does the 3 tablesoons of butter go in the custard?

    - Cindy on September 20, 2014 Reply
    • Hi Cindy,

      Yes, it is whisked in at the end, off the heat.

      - Jenn on September 21, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This pie was absolutely delicious! So elegant and out-of-this-world wonderful. Thanks for the recipe — keep up the good work!

    - Deb on August 19, 2014 Reply
  • Was the crust their recipe also? I saw that it was adapted from Gourmet, so did they just give you the recipe for the custard?

    I went to Capital Grille for the first time tonight and got the Coconut Cream Pie, and it’s definitely now one of my favorite restaurant desserts. So, so good. And the crust is amazing! Sort of like a cookie, but sort of like a chewy dessert bar… so it’s important that I ask whether this recipe reflects the crust also! haha. My fiance works about 6 minutes up the road from one of their locations, and I’m already planning to ask him to pick up some carry-out-pie in the future. I can’t decide whether I hope they sell whole pies or not…

    Regardless, I’ll still probably be trying your recipe soon! Too tempting not to!

    - Kat on August 18, 2014 Reply
    • (I just remembered the whole dessert is basically a big tart in itself rather than a pie slice. Oh well! haha.)

      - Kat on August 18, 2014 Reply
    • Hi Kat, They did not provide the recipe for the crust, so I adapted one from Gourmet magazine. For what it’s worth, I think this crust is even better than the original :)

      - Jenn on August 26, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    Perfect! I had comments like “this is the best pie I ever had” when I served it at a dinner party recently. Only one problem: my cream broke when I added the rum. Twice. My husband ran out at the last minute and brought back some lite refrigerated topping, and that was surprisingly good. Although I’m sure the fresh cream would have been better, the purchased topping did make the tart a little lower in calories and kept for a few days in the fridge. Awesome desssert!

    - Tari on July 17, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    This was spot on! After eating this at Capital Grill this spring I was searching for this recipe. Thank you! It is awesome and look forward to making it for years to come!

    - Amy on July 17, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I made this for a church potluck and it was gone in 10 minutes. I got so many compliments for it! The filling was so good and so easy to make, I think I will make it just as a pudding someday.

    Definitely use a tart pan. It looks so pretty!

    - Sandy on July 4, 2014 Reply
  • If I wanted to add crushed pineapple to this how would I go about it?

    - Nancy on April 22, 2014 Reply
    • Hi Nancy, I suppose you could stir a bit into the custard; just be careful not to add too much or it will make the custard to thin. Or you could add a bit on top under the whipped topping.

      - Jenn on April 24, 2014 Reply
  • One of the things I love about this recipe is how forgiving it is of all the substitutions I make (which I do with almost every recipe). Here are some: I thought I had cream of coconut, but didn’t. I used coconut oil instead. worked great. I also make my own shortbread. The shortbread is a cup of softened butter, about a cup of coconut flour, 1/2 c. sugar, and enough flour to make it into shortbread dough. This makes way more shortbread than needed for the recipe, so I either freeze some for then next pie, or more likely, it gets eaten. The coconut shortbread isn’t quite as light as regular shortbread, but it works great in the recipe, and adds a lot of extra coconut flavor.
    I am married to someone of Filipino descent, and his Filipino relatives never seemed to care for anything I brought to the family gatherings until I started bringing this pie! It always gets eaten, even with the mind-boggling amount of food they always have at their gatherings. Thanks so much for publishing!

    - Sarah J. on April 19, 2014 Reply
  • Hi! This is one of my favorite desserts! I’m attempting to make it for Easter tomorrow, and I was wondering if I could make the custard today and put it in the shell tomorrow so the crust doesn’t get soft? Will the custard be ok to move once it’s cooled?

    - Mica on April 19, 2014 Reply
    • Hi Mica, I think that should work just fine. Just put the custard in a bowl place some plastic wrap directly against the surface of the custard so that it doesn’t develop a film. Please let me know how it turns out!

      - Jenn on April 19, 2014 Reply
  • Oh, my, was this GOOD. It was delicious the day I made it, but it was even better the next day after sitting overnight in the fridge, so if I were to make it again for an occasion, I’d make it the day before. I made mine in an 11-inch tart pan because that’s all I had, and it came out fine; there was plenty of crust and filling. The shortbread crust really makes this pie—it just wouldn’t be the same with a graham cracker or pastry crust. Thanks for another great recipe, Jenn!

    - Allie on March 17, 2014 Reply
  • Absolutely amazing! I made this last weekend and my family loved it! Thank you

    - Yelena on October 9, 2013 Reply
  • I just had this amazing dessert at the C.G. of Denver, and am SO grateful you have shared it with us. It is THE best Coconut cream pie and I am so glad I can make it with your help. Thanks for your efforts.

    - V on July 12, 2013 Reply
  • I made this Tart for our annual street party dessert contest & won! I have made it a few times now, and once you locate the ingredients, it’s pretty straightforward. Everyone RAVED – it is delicious.

    - Sheila on June 27, 2013 Reply
    • Hi Sheila, That makes me so happy that you won! Thank you so much for letting me know.

      - Jenn on June 28, 2013 Reply
  • I adore coconut and this is my new favorite. I’m hoping my family gets the hints and makes this for Mother’s Day!

    - Sharyn on March 10, 2013 Reply
  • Googled to find this recipe and found your site. Love the fact that you found the exact recipe, as well as we’re so specific with the directions. Much appreciated, and look forward to making it as well as finding more stuff (that you found first!).

    - Len F. on January 22, 2013 Reply
  • I will make this one day soon…

    - Jen on October 3, 2012 Reply
  • Wow-made this tonight and I would say that it definitely tastes like Capital Grille’s fabulous pie. I wondered if it needed the caramel sauce that they use but it doesn’t. It’s extraordinarily rich. I tasted it prior to toasting the coconut and decided it was perfect so I didn’t bother. I did use 2% milk rather than whole-didn’t taste a difference. I would grease the bottom of the tarte pan as it was a little hard to remove but small price to pay for an outstanding dessert!

    - anniem on July 8, 2012 Reply
  • Oh. My. Word. Somebody help me. This looks out-of-world delicious.

    - Elizabeth C. in Kansas on May 19, 2012 Reply
    • I want to make this for 4th of July weekend party.

      - Elizabeth C. in Kansas on June 21, 2012 Reply
  • I have made your coconut dream tart twice now and both times it came out beautifully (both in taste and esthetics)! And the feedback for the tart has also been great. Everyone loves it!

    - Erin McNamara on May 18, 2012 Reply
  • I can’t seem to find any Coconut Cream, any suggestions, thanks.

    - Charlene on April 4, 2012 Reply
    • Hi Charlene, Unfortunately I don’t know of any substitute for cream of coconut. Sorry!

      - Jenn on April 11, 2012 Reply
      • Thanks Jenn, I did end up finding some(cream of coconut) but was hard to find, made this at Easter and was very good.

        - Charlene on May 20, 2012 Reply
  • I plan to make this for a trip that includes a 4.5 hour drive, and I’m leaving directly after work so it will need to be made in the morning or the night before. Can all three elements (topping, custard, pre-baked crust) be made and stored separately, then put together before eating? I really hope I can make it work–it looks amazing!! Thank you!

    - Jen on April 2, 2012 Reply
    • Hi Jen, That should work fine. Just be sure to keep the whipped cream topping very cold, otherwise it won’t hold. Hope that helps.

      - Jenn on April 3, 2012 Reply
  • The Capital Grille’s pie comes with a caramel rum sauce-did they give you the recipe for that as well?

    - anniem on March 9, 2012 Reply
    • Hi Ann, Unfortunately they didn’t, but it’s delicious all on its own.

      - Jenn on March 9, 2012 Reply
  • This recipe is a family favorite, for special occasions. I use Lorna Doone shortbread cookies (cheaper than Walkers). Super easy and great to serve all year long. This was my first recipe from your website, and got me hooked on your blog. Thanks

    - Cathy on March 4, 2012 Reply
  • I made this for my family and it is now one of my family’s all time favorite desserts! My daughter made this for a recent auction donation and it looked as great as the photos here. Coconut lovers delight.

    - Liz McNett Crowl on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • Ah! I’m so excited! I just went to the Capital Grille for my birthday this past weekend and I’ve been dreaming about this pie ever since, hence why I came across your post on foodgawker…I’m absolutely going to try this out, I’ll let you know how it goes! Thanks for going through the trouble to convert and post :)

    - Lorin on February 27, 2012 Reply
    • This is the absolute best coconut creap pie EVER! It is relatively simple, but so, so delicious. The ingredients make all the difference. I have made it several times – alwyas to rave reviews. Outstanding!!

      - Kathy Mayrand on March 1, 2012 Reply
  • This is a wonderful recipe! we’re huge fans of Capital Grilled coconut cream pie! my husband loved this and I will be making this more often. Thanks!

    - JPY on December 26, 2011 Reply
  • Thank you for this wondrful rendition. I made this recipe with 6 mini tart pans for my girlfriend’s birthday today and it was a fabulous hit (they’re huge coconut fans)! I did add about a teaspoon of pure vanilla to the topping.

    - Kristi on September 28, 2011 Reply
  • Hi Tatiana, I agree with you on the flaked coconut in the custard…very unpleasant! I think you’ll love this recipe. As for the cream of coconut, I believe coconut cream is the same thing.

    - Jennifer on February 23, 2011 Reply
  • I was looking for a coconut pie without any flaked coconut in the custard,and this one sounds perfect.I think that the chewiness of the coconut flakes just doesn’t go well with nice smooth texture of creamy custard. Do you think that a can of coconut cream and a little more sugar will be a good substitute for the cream of coconut?Thank you for sharing the recipe.

    - Tatiana on February 22, 2011 Reply
  • I halved this recipe to fit in to 4 mini tarlet pans over Valentine’s Day- HUGE success! Thank you so much!

    - Amy on February 19, 2011 Reply
  • I wonder, am I the first man to comment? My wife requested this for her birthday. I made it for her. She loved it.

    I hate to write the stereotypical recipe comment telling about all the things I changed in your recipe, but I had to replace the rum with something because I don’t cook with alcohol. I used a splash of coconut extract instead of rum in the custard and the whipped cream.

    - William Jackson on January 19, 2011 Reply
  • I made this for Christmas dinner. I had trouble locating a 10′ tart pan (William Sonomo). After that, piece of cake! (HA!) This was the most straight forward recipe I’ve ever tried. I loved that everything was thought out, down to how many boxes of cookies and how many cookies I needed. The techniques were explained well. For a novice, which I am not, making a custard is a lost art. After making this a tart a new and useful skill will be mastered.

    The combination of flavors was perfect. The taste of coconut was subtle but present. There was not a piece left with multiple choices of deserts too. I came home with an empty plate! I will definitely make this again!

    - Teri McGann on January 6, 2011 Reply
  • I made this for my family and neighbors…It was amazing…fairly simple and soo yummy.

    - debbie on October 5, 2010 Reply
  • I will be trying this soon!!! It sounds incredible!!!

    - Kelly on September 30, 2010 Reply
  • Made this for a dinner party last weekend and it was AH-MAZING!!! Thank you!

    - Suzanne on September 28, 2010 Reply
  • now this looks like a real WINNER!

    - oneshotbeyond on September 28, 2010 Reply
  • mmmm looks divine

    - nautica on August 22, 2010 Reply
  • This looks AMAZING. Super awesome that they sent you the recipe!

    - Julie (Etsy Stalkers) on August 19, 2010 Reply
  • Wow, that looks beautiful! I love coconut so this is making me drool.

    - Amanda on August 17, 2010 Reply
  • Omg! Made this over the weekend and it was AMAZING! Definitely a keeper!

    - Karen on August 16, 2010 Reply
  • I made this for my family today, and everyone loved it! It has a nice subtle, natural coconut flavor. It seemed like a sophisticated version of the everyday coconut cream pie. Loved it, and will be making it again! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

    - Cookiecrazedmama.blogspot.com on August 15, 2010 Reply
  • yum! My hubby used to live in the DC area- he’s always impressed when I say “Oooo I found a recipe from _____!” This pie looks delish- as well as the pics!!! Well done!

    - the domestic mama on August 15, 2010 Reply
  • To die for!

    And your unbaked crust… so beautiful!

    - maameemoomoo on August 14, 2010 Reply
  • You are amazing. I love your blog. I am all about coconut right now and finding this has made my day. I’ll def blog about it.

    - Sis Boom on August 13, 2010 Reply
  • oh my that looks beyond delicious!

    - nic on August 13, 2010 Reply
  • a very cake for dreamer!:D

    - genny on August 13, 2010 Reply
  • I would absolutely LOVE this! You had me at walkers shortbread and malibu…I have to try this recipe!

    - JehanP on August 13, 2010 Reply
  • If you can’t find unsweetened coconut flakes, could you buy a real coconut, shave and toast?

    - JC on August 13, 2010 Reply
  • Oh MAN!! I can’t wait to try this recipe! Sounds wonderful!! Thanks for being so generous for sharing a recipe you had the good fortune to acquire!

    - Sonja Denney on August 13, 2010 Reply

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