Published May 1, 2004.
Most coconut cream pies are no more than coconut-dusted vanilla cream pies. Others use artificial flavoring and taste like suntan lotion. We wanted honest coconut flavor.
Most recipes for this diner dessert are nothing more than a redecorated vanilla cream pie. A handful of coconut shreds stirred into the filling or sprinkled on the whipped cream might be enough to give it a new name, but certainly not to give it flavor. Then there's the crust--soft and soggy--and the miserable texture of the filling--rubbery, resilient, and starchy.
The essence of a great coconut cream pie ought to be the exotic and elusive flavor of tropical coconut rather than a thinly disguised vanilla custard.
Use not-too-sweet animal crackers for a crust with a delicate, cookielike texture that won't overshadow the coconut filling. For added flavor, grind a couple of tablespoons of shredded coconut in the food processor along with the crackers. For the filling, start with a basic custard, using a combination of coconut milk and whole milk, and cook unsweetened shredded coconut into the filling so the shreds have the opportunity to soften slightly in the hot milk. Top the pie with simple sweetened whipped cream, and dust with toasted coconut.list of recipes