Coconut is my family's must-have sweet during the holidays. Usually we have a fresh coconut cake, but my mom has been known to sneak a Mounds bar — her favourite candy — when the urge strikes.
So this Christmas season, I decided to tie it all together with this recipe for chocolate coconut pie. And I wanted it to be more than just another coconut pie. I wanted it to taste more like a candy bar. So I made the crust from sweetened dried coconut and butter, similar to how I would make a graham cracker crust.
The coconut is processed with a bit of butter to help bind and brown it. It then is pressed into a pie plate and baked before the custard filling is added. But you know what? The crust worked out so nicely, I'd consider using it for all sorts of pie fillings.
For this pie, I upped the coconut volume even more by sprinkling a layer of additional sweetened coconut over the baked crust before adding the custard.
Once the custard filling is baked and cooled, it gets topped with a chocolate glaze. I usually make my glaze — a ganache, really —by heating the cream on the stove, but I found it was just as easy to do in the microwave. If you want to try it, just microwave the heavy cream until nearly boiling, then proceed with the recipe as directed.
After two hours of chilling, the pie was perfect to serve. This is a simple but sublimely rich pie. And it is perfect for the holidays!
COCONUT PATTY PIE
I made this pie in honour of my mother. Her favourite candy bar is a Mounds, and this pie is reminiscent of that dark chocolate and coconut confection. If you'd like to make this recipe gluten-free, substitute 1/2 tablespoon of cornstarch for the all-purpose flour called for in the custard.
Start to finish: 4 hours (30 minutes active)
For the coconut crust:
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
14-ounce bag sweetened shredded coconut, divided
Pinch of salt
For the custard:
3 large egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Pinch fresh nutmeg
For the chocolate glaze:
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 ounces (1 1/3 cups) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Heat the oven to 350 F.
To prepare the crust, in a food processor combine the butter, all but 1 cup of the coconut, and the salt. Pulse until the mixture begins to come together but before it forms a ball, about 40 pulses. Transfer the mixture to a 9-inch pie plate. Press the coconut mixture evenly over the bottom and up sides of the pan to form crust.
Set the pie plate on a baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the edges begin to brown. Transfer the pie plate to a wire rack to cool completely. Leave the oven on.
Meanwhile, prepare the custard filling. In a large bowl, mix together the egg yolks, cream, coconut milk and vanilla. In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, salt and nutmeg, then add to the liquid ingredients. Mix well and set aside.
When the coconut crust is cool, sprinkle the bottom with the remaining 1 cup of coconut and pour the custard over it. Bake until set, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven, set on a cooling rack and let cool.
While the pie cools, prepare the chocolate glaze.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Place the chocolate in a medium bowl, then pour the hot cream over it. Let sit for 1 to 2 minutes, then stir until the chocolate is completely melted. Stir in the vanilla and salt until the mixture is glossy.
When the pie has cooled, but is still just warm to the touch, pour the chocolate glaze over it, spreading it evenly all the way to the edge of the crust. Refrigerate, uncovered, until the filling is set, about 2 hours. Cover the pie and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.
Nutrition information per serving: 650 calories; 450 calories from fat (69 per cent of total calories); 50 g fat (36 g saturated; 0.5 g trans fats); 145 mg cholesterol; 50 g carbohydrate; 5 g fiber; 43 g sugar; 8 g protein; 180 mg sodium.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Elizabeth Karmel is a barbecue and Southern foods expert. She is the chef and pitmaster at online retailer CarolinaCueToGo.com and author of three books, including "Taming the Flame."