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.

Black Bottom Banana Cream Pie

I grew up in a pretty traditional American family eating traditional American foods. We had spaghetti night, taco night, chicken, hot dogs and hamburgers, occasionally homemade pizza, chocolate chip cookies, etc, etc.  But one thing we almost never had in the house was bananas!

My mom hates them (and will probably hate this post!).  I swear she has some sort of banana 6th sense- if there is a banana within a 5 mile radius she can smell it and will make it her mission to destroy it!  So needless to say, I was often deprived of this healthy, delicious, potassium rich fruit as a child (along with cable TV).

Luckily, now that I live on my own (and beyond the 5 mile banana radius) I can eat all the bananas I want- and what better way to eat bananas than in a pie with pudding and crust and whipped cream!

The idea for this pie was actually born this summer and is a combination of several different recipes.  Banana cream pies generally have a flaky, butter crust but I decided to swap it out for a chocolate coated graham cracker crust.  It is then filled with sliced bananas and homemade vanilla pudding before being topped with whipped cream and more chocolate (you really can never have enough chocolate).

The key element that really brings this all together is the 1/2 tsp of salt in the whipped cream.  Don’t leave it out!  I promise that it is a game changer. (You should generally add some salt to all desserts to bring out the sweetness.)

Enjoy (and sorry Mom!).

Black Bottom Banana Cream Pie

Vanilla Pudding (adapted from Bon Appetit):

4 large eggs
cup sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
4 cups whole milk
2 Tbs unsalted butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of kosher salt

Crust (adapted from Bon Appetit):

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
7 whole graham crackers, coarsely broken
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 Tbs sugar
1 1/3 cups bittersweet chocolate chips (about 8 ounces)
2/3 cup chilled whipping cream
2 Tbs light corn syrup

3 ripe bananas, sliced thinly

Whipped cream topping:

1 1/3 cup chilled whipping cream
3 Tbs confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp kosher salt

To make the pudding:  Lightly whisk eggs in a large bowl just to blend. Whisk sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan. Gradually whisk milk into sugar mixture and heat over medium heat, whisking often, until very warm to the touch. Gradually whisk half of hot milk mixture into eggs, then whisk egg mixture back into milk mixture in saucepan.

Cook, whisking constantly, until thickened and whisk leaves a trail in pudding (it should be the consistency of mayonnaise), about 4 minutes. Remove from heat, add butter, vanilla, and salt and whisk until butter is melted and mixture is smooth.

Strain pudding through a fine-mesh sieve into another large bowl. Cover pudding with plastic wrap, pressing directly onto the surface. Chill until cool, about 2 hours.

For the crust:  While the pudding chills, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish with nonstick spray. Blend graham crackers, melted butter, and 2 tablespoons sugar in processor until moist clumps form. Press crumb mixture over bottom and up sides of prepared pie dish. Bake crust until lightly browned, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine chocolate chips, 2/3 cup cream, corn syrup, and 1 teaspoon vanilla in microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on medium heat until chocolate softens, about 3 minutes. Whisk until melted and smooth. Spread about 2/3 of chocolate mixture over bottom of crust. Freeze 10 minutes.  Reserve the rest of the chocolate to drizzle on top of the finished pie.

To assembly the pie: Spread a thin layer of the chilled pudding over the chocolate.  Arrange the banana slices over the pudding in about 2 layers and then top with the remaining pudding until the pie dish is filled (you may have some extra left over).  Chill for at least 4 hours.

It’s best to top pie with whipped cream just prior to serving.  To make whipped cream, combine all ingredients in a stand mixer fit with a whip attachment and beat on high until stiff peaks form.  Spread on top of pie.  Drizzle with remaining chocolate (you may need to rewarm in microwave for about 20 seconds).