Coconut Dream Pie
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Coconut Dream Pie
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)
For the Crust
- Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350°F.
- 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
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt. Set aside.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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