Aunt Mollie's Coconut Cream Pie
- Basic Pie Crust:
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2/3 cup (11 tablespoons) chilled unsalted butter
- 4 tablespoons ice water (4 to 5)
- Coconut Custard Filling:
- 3 large egg yolks (reserve the egg whites for the meringue)
- 2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 3 tablespoons flour (heaping)
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- Meringue Topping:
- 3 large egg whites
- 1 cup sugar
To Make the Crust: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the flour, salt, and sugar on low speed about 30 seconds. Cut the chilled butter into 1/2-inch cubes. Add the butter to the flour mixture and combine on low speed about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, until the mixture looks crumbly, with bits of dough the size of peas. Add 4 tablespoons ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing on low speed for 10 seconds after each addition. After the last addition, the dough should begin to clump together in a ball. If it doesn't, continue mixing about 10 seconds longer. If it still looks too dry, add an additional 1 tablespoon of ice water. Gently mold the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
Transfer the unwrapped dough to a lightly floured surface. Roll it into a 1/8-inch-thick circle large enough to cover the bottom and sides of a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate. (To keep the dough from sticking, gently pick it up periodically as you roll it out and rotate it in place, adding more flour underneath if necessary.) Wrap the dough lightly over the rolling pin and set it in the ungreased pie plate. Press it into place and crimp the outside edges with your fingers or a fork. Use a fork to prick the bottom of the crust. Cover the bottom and sides of the crust with a sheet of parchment paper and fill the crust with pie weights or dried beans. (I use the cheapest red beans I can find.)
Bake the crust for 10 minutes. Remove the parchment and weights. If the crust is not golden brown, return it to the oven for 1 to 3 minutes. Cool on a rack until the filling is ready. Decrease oven temperature to 350 degrees.
To Make the Filling: Whisk together the egg yolks and cream in a medium bowl. Combine the sugar and flour in a large saucepan. Pour the yolk-cream mixture into the saucepan, whisking over medium heat until smooth. Bring the mixture to a simmer, whisking constantly about 10 minutes, until it thickens. Stir in the butter, coconut, and vanilla. Remove from heat.
To Make the Meringue: Set a large, perfectly clean metal bowl over a pot of simmering water. Pour in the egg whites and sugar. (If there is a trace of fat in the bowl, the eggs won't reach their proper volumel.) Heat the egg white mixture while whisking constantly until the sugar melts and there are no visible grains in the meringue. Take a little meringue mixture and rub it between your fingers to make sure all sugar grains have melted. Remove the meringue from over the simmering water and whip it with a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment on low speed for 5 minutes; increase the speed to high and beat 5 minutes longer, until the meringue is stiff and shiny.
Pour the filling into the pie crust. Spoon the meringue over the pie, covering the filling completely and sealing the edges of the pie crust with the meringue. Dip the back of a spoon quickly into the meringue to make little spikes. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the meringue is golden brown.
Tip: This topping recipe makes just enough meringue to cover the top of the pie. If you wish to create high peaks for a more dramatic presentation, double the amounts of egg whites and sugar.