Wednesday, January 23, 2013



In honor of national pie day, I made a coconut pudding pie. It isn't as strange as the basil seed thing, but it's not what I thought it would be either. I was thinking of a sort of egg custard pie, but with a coconutty aspect to it. But I distrust egg custard pies; I have it in my head that they are difficult and finicky things. There's no reason for me to think this. I've never tried to make one. But I decided to go for a pudding pie recipe instead, where you cook the crust and the filling separately. Irrespective of my fear of egg custard pies, the big reason I chose the pudding route was that I bought a disappointing coconut substance at Fubonn the last time I went.

You can get several brands of powdered coconut milk there. I have no idea what you're supposed to do with it for, but I put it in coffee as creamer, I use it as a topping for oatmeal, and I make rice pudding with it. Out of curiosity I tried a new brand, and it turned out to be slightly loathsome for any of my usual purposes. Unlike my preferred brand, this one has a large percentage of starch added. It also has a bunch of salt. The starch makes clumps in my coffee, and tastes chalky in my oatmeal. The salt is gross for both applications, so I didn't even try a rice pudding. So, pie.

One 9" pie crust of your preferred type. I made a slightly sweet pastry crust. 

Should have read the ingredients.
1 pack of this coconut powder
2 eggs
2 cups water
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk
a pinch of nutmeg
toasted coconut flakes for the top

Pre-bake the crust until it is slightly browned and then let it cool completely.

Put everything else except the coconut flakes in a blender for about a minute, then pour the mix into a small saucepan over medium heat. Using a whisk, stir constantly until the filling is as thick as jello pudding. Pour the filling into the crust and refrigerate for at least a couple hours, until it is quite chilled. Top with toasty coconut just before serving.

This is super easy, but there are a few things that are worth explaining.

1. For the first 8 minutes the filling is on the stove, absolutely nothing will happen. Then it will thicken rapidly.
2. So why stir for all that time? To prevent lumps. The bottom of the pan will be hot enough to cook the filling solid down there before the rest of it is done unless you keep stirring.
3. A moderately slow and lackadaisical stirring motion is sufficient until it starts to gel up. Then you want to stir fast and methodically or again, lumps.
4. The toasty flakes add crunch, which is important because otherwise this would really be boring.
5. Remember the salt complaint? That's what the sweetened condensed milk is for. The salt is still in there, but the sugar balances it out. Also improves the mouth feel.
6. What if you don't have a blender? Make sure you whip it to within an inch of its life or else, Lumps!

My pie research led me to believe that the starch in the coconut powder would lend itself to a pudding-style filling, and I was right. If you like coconut pudding pie, there is no reason to go looking for this particular off-brand of coconut powder either, you can just use 2 cups of coconut milk and 1/4 cup of cornstarch instead. Make sure you get the full-fat kind of coconut milk too, no sense in doing things by halves.

Well of course I had pie for breakfast. And a boogerty egg and coffee. That's what you do on Pie Day.

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