Thursday, October 4, 2012

Coconut Cream Pie

My love of a restaurant here in Charleston called the Glass Onion knows no bounds. So much so that I slapped a Glass Onion bumper sticker on my Volvo the other day.

I do not do bumper stickers. EVER.

So that should tell you how much I love the food at "the GO" as it's affectionately referred to here in town.

Every time I eat there I feel better about the world in general.

And that has a lot to do with my friend Sarah O'Kelley, one of the restaurant's chefs and co-founders. I met Sarah way before I ever tried her food and I liked her immediately. She's friendly and down-to-earth, and she makes all of the patrons in the restaurant, myself included, feel like they are family. 

But I'm not the only one who feels this way.

While I was lucky enough to write about Sarah at Garden & Gun, Sarah and her peeps at the Glass Onion have had serious national press in practically every book that exists right now, from Bon Appetit to Esquire

And every bit of the praise is well-deserved.

Awhile back I asked Sarah if she would consider sharing the recipe for one of the iconic Southern sweets she makes regularly at the GO: Coconut Cream Pie.

Below is a photo of a slice, a snapshot of vintage plates (which Sarah suggests using to serve this sort of sweet deliciousness at home), and the recipe from her recent cookbook that details the story behind the confection and how to pull it together. Enjoy. And big thanks Sarah!

Lisa's Coconut Cream Pie

I met my good friend Lisa Maki first as a customer at the GO. She had a neighboring startup business, and they basically thought of us as their personal corporate cafeteria. At the time, I had no idea what a talented cook Lisa happened to be, but many Sunday suppers later, I felt just as enamored of her food as she did of ours. And I coveted her Coconut Cream Pie recipe! She claims that a west coast restaurant inspired hers, but I think it totally belongs to Lisa.  I've only restaurantified it slightly—using my go-to custard technique, as I know it's foolproof.

1 unbaked frozen pie shell 
2 large eggs
1 13 1/2-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 cups flaked coconut, toasted
Whipped Cream, for garnish (see recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line pie shell with a sheet of tinfoil. Spread rice or beans across the pie shell, mounding them up a bit on the sides and going more lightly in the center.

Place pie shell on baking sheet. Bake until edges are dark golden brown and center has just begun to golden. Check crust's progress at 30 minutes, but total baking time should be about 45 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool with tinfoil and weights still in place. Once cool, remove weights and reserve the weights for another day. Reserve crust until filling and meringue are both made. The crust can be baked off one day in advance, wrapped, and held at room temperature.

To make filling, combine eggs in a medium bowl and gently whisk. Keep near the stovetop as you work on the rest of the recipe.

Combine coconut milk, cream, vanilla, and salt in a large pot. Mix the sugar and corn starch together in a medium bowl. Add a half cup of coconut milk mixture to sugar mixture and whisk to combine. (This is a slurry!) 

Heat the coconut milk mixture over medium heat until steaming but not simmering. Add the sugar mixture to the coconut milk mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until it begins to thicken. The time for this mixture to thicken may vary as it depends upon the corn starch reaching a certain temperature, but it will be obvious. The mixture will subtly thicken and then quickly become very thick. At this point it will be at a rolling boil and will pull away from sides of the pot. Remove pot from the heat. 

Slowly drizzle a cup (using a ladle is helpful!) of the hot mixture into the eggs, whisking as you do so. (This is called tempering and should prevent the eggs from scrambling if done very carefully. But do not fret if your egg whites cook just a bit -- the mixture will be strained in the final steps, eliminating any unsightly lumps.) 

Next, slowly pour the warmed eggs into the hot mixture in the pot, whisking as you do so. Return the pot to the stove over medium heat. Cook, whisking, until the mixture begins to gently boil. Remove from the heat and strain through a chinois or other fine-meshed strainer into a medium bowl. It can be helpful to use a ladle to push the custard through the chinois. Fill a large bowl with ice water and set the medium bowl of custard in this larger bowl to chill. As custard chills a slight "skin" will form on surface; vigorously whisk to eliminate. Once cool, stir in 1 cup of toasted coconut.

Spoon custard into reserved pie crust, spreading with a rubber spatula to evenly distribute. Cover and refrigerate for at least a few hours or overnight. (This will ensure that the custard fully sets, and the pie is easy to slice.)

Remove from refrigerator when ready to serve. Cover entire pie with Whipped Cream (see recipe below) and garnish with remaining 1/2 cup of toasted coconut.

YIELD: 8 servings

P.S. Lisa covers the pie with whipped cream before slicing (as described above), but if you will not be serving the entire pie in one serving, you can simply garnish each slice individually with whipped cream and toasted coconut. 


1 cup heavy cream cream
2  tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Whip cream until soft peaks form, using a whisk or electric mixer.  Sift in powdered sugar, add vanilla, and continue whipping until moderately stiff peaks form.


Elizabeth Harris said...


Haskell Harris said...

It is soooo good!

kim sunee said...

I'm always up for coconut cream pie, and this one looks delicious!
Thanks for sharing.

Suzanne Flohr said...

So I finally had a slice of this today at GO and was blown away. I remembered you writing about it and can't wait to try the recipe. Thanks for sharing (and getting GO to share).