March 14th is National Pi Day and while I’ve never been too good with numbers I have no problem joining math enthusiasts around the world as they celebrate this Greek letter, a.k.a. 3.1415926535, a.k.a. the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter.
My celebratory item of choice? A coconut cream pie! Personally, I think this is a deeply philosophical way to pay homage to those high school geometry classes that bored me to tears. After all, a pie is shaped like a circle and the very essence of Pi has to do with circle circumferences right? Right?? If I was better at math I’m sure I could use Pi to calculate something about pie slices and ratios… or something.
I learned about National Pi day around midnight last night and was inspired to do something with this newfound knowledge. This is where the title of this pie comes in, because I “cheated” by using a frozen pie crust to put this baby together. My husband made fun of me when he realized what I was doing, but I said: “Look, do you want to eat a pie on Pi day or not? Because I refuse to make a crust from scratch at 12:30 A.M.” That pretty much settled it.
(I keep pie crusts in the freezer. One never knows when a friend will drop-in unannounced and an impromptu pie will be just the thing!)
With the pie crust already taken care of, you’d be amazed by how easy it is to put a coconut cream pie together. The custard filling is a simple combination of sugar, flaked coconut, eggs, flour, vanilla and coconut extract, which are beaten together then brought to a gentle boil on the stove top. This takes about 8 minutes, tops, at which point you chill the custard in the fridge for an hour before spooning it into the baked pie crust and chilling it again overnight. The next day all you need to do is toast some flaked coconut and make the cream topping, all of which, once again, takes about 8 minutes. Not bad effort-wise if you ask me, especially when the finished product has all the coconuty-goodness of a Marie Callendar’s specialty. (Although as you can see, I use way more cream topping than Marie Callender’s. The more the better I say.)
Happy National Pi Day!
(Oh and psst, I installed a super cool new WordPress plugin that has made Baking and Books iPhone compatible. Check it out on your iPhone or iPod touch. )
Cheater’s Coconut Cream Pie
Adapted from this Epicurious.com recipe
Ingredients: Makes 1 pie
- 1 frozen pie crust
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/8 teaspoon coconut extract
- 2/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut
- 2 cups chilled whipping cream
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon coconut extract
For the filling:
For the topping:
Bake the pie crust according to package instructions. Allow to cool completely.
To make the filling: whisk the 1/2 cup sugar, eggs, egg yolk, and flour in medium bowl until combined. In a medium saucepan over medium heat bring the milk and coconut flakes to a simmer. Gradually add this hot milk mixture to the egg mixture, whisking constantly. Return this mixture to the saucepan and cook until the custard thickens and boils, stirring constantly, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Mix in vanilla and coconut extracts. Transfer to medium bowl. Press plastic wrap directly onto surface to prevent formation of skin. Chill until cold, about 1 hour or up to 1 day. Transfer filling to crust. Cover and chill overnight.
To make the topping: toast coconut in heavy small skillet over medium heat until lightly browned, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Cool completely.
Using electric mixer, beat heavy cream, sugar, and coconut extract in medium bowl until peaks form. Spread whipped cream all over top of filling. Sprinkle evenly with toasted coconut. (Can be prepared 4 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.) Serve cold.