Coconut Cream Pie with Crust and Whipped Topping (Gluten-Free)

So, this isn't the healthiest thing on the face of the planet, b/c of the quantity of sugar, but it beats the heck out of a box or store bought dessert...and hey, it was for J's birthday! Awesome, awesome, awesome dessert! If you don't like the stringy texture of coconut, you can always omit from the custard. This recipe is completely starch free! Including the for those of you with Gluten allergies, you are in luck! Eat your heart-out! ;) For those with dairy issues, I hear you can use coconut cream in place of cream, and coconut milk in place of the milk....and you can always use coconut oil instead of butter! If anyone does the dairy substitutes please let me know how they turn out! ;)

1 3/4 cup heavy cream (preferably from grass-fed cows, and definitely not ultra-pasteurized!)
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups sweetened coconut shreds
2 egg yolks (or 1/4 cup flour or arrowroot to thicken)
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter

In a heavy bottomed sauce pan heat the milk, cream, vanilla and coconut until it temps at 150. In a separate bowl combine the yolks, eggs, and sugar. Beat until combined. Make sure your cream mixture is still near 150 degrees. Add the cream mixture by 1/3 of a cup to the egg mixture stirring the whole time. Place all liquid back in the pot. Place on medium-high heat stirring constantly until the mixture thickens and reaches about 158 degrees...10 minutes or so. When mixture has thickened remove from the pot and place in a bowl. Stir in the 1/4 cup of butter until melted, and place the whole bowl in an ice bath, stirring occasionally until cooled.

When mostly cooled, place in the refrigerator.

For the Crust
2 1/4 cups finely grated coconut
1/2 succanant
1/4 cup melted butter or coconut oil
1 egg

place the coconut, sugar, melted butter and egg all in a bowl. Stir until combined. Press into a 9-9.5 inch pie crust. Pre-heat the oven and bake for 20 minutes on 350 or until edges are slightly browned. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Fill the crust with the custard and top with homemade whipping cream.

Whipping cream:
1/2 pint of cream
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla

Place the syrup and cream in a "frozen" mixing bowl and beat until stiff peeks form.

Thickening Agents

It is J's birthday today! In an effort to make him a delicious "cake" like substance to celebrate I resorted to one of his favorite pies! For those of you who don't know, J doesn't much care for cake, and much prefers pie. Pumpkin is his favorite, but Pumpkins aren't so much in season right now. Alas we found ourselves in the kitchen looking for a substitute for his favorite pie, that He, N and I could all enjoy together!

Coconut cream pie it was! J and I love it! The only problem was I wanted Noah to be able to have it. The recipe I had mad previously had corn starch or flour, or arrowroot in it, all of which, N can't have. So, I began a hunt for another thickening agent! I am happy to say, I found one that worked, how do I know it worked? The pie "sat" up!

So, I have discovered that Egg Yolks are a wonderful thickener for "custard" like substances or sauces, when you would usually have to use a starch in some variety. The trick is determining the amount of egg YOLK required. I emphasis Yolk, because the yolk is the thickener, and too much of an egg white in a recipe can really throw off the texture and flavor.

So, what do you do? In general for sauces or custards, omit up to 1/3 cup starch with 2 egg yolks. 1/3 of a cup b/c all starchs are used in different quantities. If a recipe only call for 2 Tbsp or less of starch, add one egg yolk.

The trick is in cooking. For "starch" thickeners it generally doesn't matter if the mixture comes to a ferocious boil, as long as it doesn't burn to the bottom, but when you are dealing with egg binders it does! You need to pay careful attention to the temperature. Don't allow your mixture to reach higher than 158 degrees or the egg separates. It is also important to slowly bring the egg up to temperature. Just like you premix your starch with cold water until dissolved prior to add to a hot mixture, you need to fully beat your egg yolks and than slowly add in a "warm" mixture 1/3 of a cup at a time to avoid "cooking" the yolk.

The mixture will thicken in several minutes at a temperature of 158 with constant stirring. Good luck and happy "starch free" foods! :)