Black Bottom Coconut Cream Pie

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Yesterday (March 14th) was one of the best holidays of the year (IMO): Pi day!!!  I remember first celebrating this holiday in high school in my pre-algebra class.  In honor of this momentous holiday, we held a pie making contest.  At this point in my life, my love for food and baking was only just beginning and my culinary adventures were mostly limited to easy things like chocolate chip cookies, pizza, scrambled eggs, and brownies.  I remember searching through one of my mom’s Pillsbury cookbooks and settled on a chocolate cherry pie with a traditional pie crust and a filling that essentially combined instant chocolate pudding and cherry pie filling.  It was quite amateur at best, but somehow I won, mostly because people couldn’t quite figure out what was in it and were curious to find out more.  My baking and pie making skills have come quite a long way since then… I would shudder at the thought of using a canned filling now!

This year, Pi day happened to fall the day after a huge snow storm.  Nothing gets me more in the mood for baking than inclement weather!  Luckily I was able to leave work a little early because I had an ambitious pie in mind: coconut cream pie!  Since returning from Thailand, I’ve been on a coconut kick and had some coconut milk and cream on hand.  I also had some milk, cream, and cream cheese leftover from the last batch of ice cream I made so I didn’t need to brave the blizzard to buy ingredients.  I then decided to add a chocolate (black) bottom layer to it because chocolate makes everything better. All of this culminated together in this newest creation: Black Bottom Coconut Cream Pie.  What is beautiful about this pie is that it layers rich chocolate, with a sweet coconut pudding, and a light, salty, but only slightly sweet, whipped topping.  It is neither too coconutty (this was tested on a coconut hater) nor too sweet.  It really is the perfect harmonious blend of sweet and salty with chocolate and coconut.  Hope you all had a delicious Pi Day!

Small confession: This crust recipe is actually supposed to make 2 pie crusts but I messed up, in a good way, and just made one.  The crust is one of my favorite parts so in my mind, more crust is better! If you want a thinner crust (or less butter in a slice of pie), then just use half of the pie dough and reduce the baking time.

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Black Bottom Coconut Cream Pie

Ingredients:

Crust (From Epicurious):

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
6 tablespoons (about) ice water

Coconut Pudding (adapted from Epicurious):

2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large egg yolks
1.5 cups whole milk
1 can (14 oz) coconut milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 tsp salt

 

Chocolate layer:

4 oz chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 Tbs butter
vanilla

Coconut Whipped Topping:

1/2 cup whipping cream
the top creamy/firm part from a 14 oz can of coconut cream (it is best to chill the can for a few hours and then just scoop out the top creamy part and leave behind the coconut water and reserve for another use)
4 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Coconut Topping:

Dang toasted coconut chips or toasted shredded coconut (enough to cover pie)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Thai Iced Tea Ice Cream

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It may seem weird to be posting about ice cream when there is an impending snow storm but a) I’m from Massachusetts and we loooooove ice cream no matter the temperature (we are one of the top 10 ice cream consuming states) and b) this ice cream is soooo good and tastes just like Thai Iced Tea!

Last month I went on an amazing vacation to Tokyo, Thailand, and Vietnam.  It was a whirlwind trip, visiting 5 cities in 2 weeks!  We visited museums and temples, went island hopping off the coast of Thailand, hiked, took cooking classes and of course ate A LOT of delicious food.  In Thailand, food is super cheap (aka $3 for a large lunch) and amazingly tasty with many fresh herbs and spices.

 

One of my favorite things about Thailand was that everywhere you turned there were vendors selling fresh fruit, coconut water, and Thai iced tea- each for less than a dollar!  I probably had at least 1 coconut and 1 Thai iced tea everyday!  Predictably, upon returning home I’ve been going through Thai iced tea withdrawal.  After a few weeks of this I decided to take matters into my own hands and came up with the brilliant idea to make an ice cream with Thai iced tea (well not that brilliant since others have done so before me…).  I found Thai iced tea mix online and set out to experiment with it this past weekend.  As I’ve posted before, I love Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream (coincidentally, I will be moving to Columbus, Ohio in a few months where they are based!) and all of my ice cream creations are based on their recipes.  I used their basic algorithm but infused the milk mixture with Thai iced tea and then substituted all the sugar and some of the cream for a can of sweetened condensed milk.  The result is a perfectly creamy, frozen version of Thai iced tea that transports me back to the colorful and vibrant streets of Chiang Mai.

 

Thai Iced Tea Ice Cream

1/4 tsp. kosher salt
3 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 cups milk
1 Tbs and 1 tsp cornstarch
1 cup heavy cream
1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup Thai iced tea mix

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In a large bowl, whisk together cream cheese and salt, set aside.

In a bowl, stir together 1/4 cup milk and the cornstarch; set slurry aside.

In a 4-qt. saucepan, whisk together remaining milk and the cream, sweetened condensed milk, and thai iced tea mix.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 4 minutes and then let steep for 10 minutes.  Strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve lined with one layer of cheesecloth (you can do it without cheesecloth but you’ll get some flecks of tea in it).  Reheat to a simmer and then stir in milk-cornstarch slurry. Return to a boil and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 2 minutes.

Whisk milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth.  Pour mixture into a plastic bag; seal, and submerge in a bowl of ice water until chilled, about 30 min.

Pour mixture into an ice cream maker; process according to manufacturer’s instructions. Place into a storage container and freeze at least 1 hour before eating.

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