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Tom Douglas’ Coconut Cream Pie

2012 June 24
by admin

I’ve read articles about how, in order to maintain a healthy relationship with food, you shouldn’t use it as a reward.


Doing so unintentionally categorizes foods as being ‘bad for you’ and worthy of ‘only an occasional splurge’ and that you should ‘love yourself enough not to succumb to that vice.’

I’ve heard that you shouldn’t celebrate with food.  Don’t go out to dinner to acknowledge a promotion.  Don’t eat a cake to enter your next year of life.  Don’t eat ice cream by  the carton to drown away a bad day.


How exactly does that work?  I really can’t think of a reward OTHER than food.  I don’t want a pedicure.  I’m not sure how a job well done translates into “oh, I’ll allow myself a little yardwork!” and I can’t reward myself by not cleaning the house, though that surely would be a reward, because then how would the house get clean?


Yeah, I’m pretty sure humans have been using food to celebrate, reward, and acknowledge events for as long as humans have been living together in communities.  I’ll live a healthy lifestyle.  I will not give up these rewards.

Food creates memories!  I will never again eat a coconut cream pie without thinking of that evening spent in a Tom Douglas Restaurant, Dahlia Lounge, with foodie friends.  In fact, I thought of the friendships forged the entire time I made this recipe.  I didn’t buy souvenirs at BlogHerFood conference in Seattle.  I shared food with my friends.  This pie is my keepsake from that trip.


Me, Joelen from What’s Cookin’, Chicago; Bridget from The Way the Cooking Crumbles; Jessica from The Jey of Cooking; (not pictured: Nicole from PreventionRD and Hillary)

Check out these girls’ blogs today to see their renditions of Coconut Cream Pie!


Coconut Cream Pie (adapted from Tom Douglas of Dahlia Lounge, Seattle, WA)


1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup ice water, or more as needed
Pastry cream:
2 cups milk
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
2 large eggs
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 coconut pie crust (recipe above), prebaked and cooled
2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream, chilled
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 ounce sliced almonds
Chunks of white chocolate (4 to 6 ounces, to make 2 ounces of curls)


To make the crust:
1. In a food processor, combine the flour, coconut, diced butter, sugar, and salt. Pulse to form coarse crumbs, gradually adding the water a tablespoon at a time. Use only as much water as is needed to hold the dough together. (Test it by gently pressing a bit of dough between your fingers.) The dough will not form a ball or clump in the processor. Place a large sheet of plastic wrap on the counter and pour the dough onto it. Pull the plastic wrap around the dough, then flatten it into a rough round. Chill 30 minutes to an hour before rolling.

2. Unwrap the round of dough and place it on a lightly floured work board. Dust the rolling pin and your hands with flour. Roll the dough into a circle about 1/8 inch thick, adding more flour if it begins to stick. Trim to a 12- to 13-inch circle.
3. Ease the rolled dough onto a 9-inch pie pan. Don’t stretch the dough to fit; it will shrink again when baked. Trim any excess to a 1- to 1 1/2-inch overhang. Turn the dough under along the rim of the pie pan and use your finger to flute the edge. Chill the unbaked pie crust at least an hour before baking.
4. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place a sheet of aluminum foil or parchment paper in the pie crust and fill the cavity with dried beans or pie weights. Bake the crust until the edge is golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, lift off the foil and beans, and return the crust to the oven. Bake until the bottom of the crust shows golden-brown patches, 10 to 12 minutes more. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
To make the pastry cream:
1. In a medium saucepan, combine the milk and sweetened shredded coconut. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add both the seeds and pod to the milk mixture. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat and stir the mixture occasionally until it begins to steam and tiny bubbles start to form around the pan’s edges. (But don’t let it come to a boil.) Remove the pan from the heat.
2. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and flour until well combined. As you whisk, temper the egg mixture (to keep it from curdling) by pouring about 1/3 cup of the scalded milk into the egg mixture. Then add the warmed egg mixture to the milk and coconut mixture in the saucepan. Place the pan over medium-high heat and whisk until the mixture thickens and begins to bubble. Keep whisking until the pastry cream is very thick, 4 to 5 minutes more. (This is a good video to gauge how thick your pastry cream should be.)  Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add the butter and whisk until it melts. Remove and discard the vanilla pod. Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl, then place it over another bowl filled with ice water. Stir occasionally until it is cool. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a crust from forming, and refrigerate until cold, about an hour. The cream will thicken as it cools.
3. When the pastry cream is cold, pour it into the prebaked pie crust, smoothing the surface with a spatula. In an electric mixer with whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream with the sugar and vanilla on medium speed. Gradually increase the speed to high, and whip to peaks that are firm enough to hold their shape. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a star tip with the whipped cream and pipe it over the surface of the pie, or spoon it over.
To finish the pie:
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. On a baking sheet, spread the sliced almonds, then place the baking sheet in the oven. Stir the almond slices once or twice while they toast, watching, until they are lightly browned, 3-5 minutes. Use a vegetable peeler to shave about 2 ounces of the white chocolate into curls. Just before serving, decorate the pie with the toasted coconut and white chocolate curls.
2. The coconut pastry cream can be made a day ahead, covered with plastic wrap as above, and chilled in the refrigerator. When you’re ready to serve the pie, fill the prebaked crust with the cream, then top the filling with the whipped cream, coconut, and chocolate.