Cool, creamy and oh-so-amazing, this coconut cream pie is made even better because I made it with fresh coconut and then got to eat this cool treat on a hot summer day!
I have some of the best memories of coconuts from childhood because, mind you, I was a kid in the 1960’s and when you got coconut, you got the actual coconut, not something in a plastic bag that’s been chemically treated to enhance its shelf life.
Dad always had the job of preparing it for us but he would let us kids hold the nail as he hammered it into the eyes to drain the water. He always pounded two holes because he said one was needed as a vent to get the water to come out and, he was right!
Longing for the taste that Dad used to serve us personally, I decided to take a whack at one myself and I found that while cracking a coconut and removing the meat is quite the task, the benefits of this fruit are so vast that it is definitely worth it.
Rich in electrolytes and iron, coconut meat is also a good source of potassium. Though high in saturated fat, it is a natural coconut oil that can enhance our immune systems, improve digestion, help our body absorb minerals and also improve our overall cholesterol ratio.
How to Pick a Coconut
Start by selecting a fresh coconut. Pick through the coconuts, looking to make sure there is no mold on the outside, especially where the eyes are.
Once you have found two coconuts that look good, pick them both up, one in each hand, then give them each a good shake. Whichever one feels heavier and has a louder sound of liquid sloshing around inside is the one you want to take home because it is the fresher of the two.
Now that you have your own fresh coconut at home, your adventure begins!
How to Prepare Fresh Coconut for Your Pie
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Pierce two of the softest eyes of coconut with a metal skewer, nail or screwdriver then use one of the holes to drain the coconut water out into a cup. Strain, cover and refrigerate water or drink it immediately for the optimal nutrient benefit. Place coconut in the preheated oven, directly on the rack, and bake for 15 minutes.
Remove coconut from oven, wrap in an old towel, then place on a hard, non-marring surface, such as the garage floor. Using a hammer or the back side of a heavy cleaver, tap the coconut firmly down the equator, turning the coconut several times as you rap, until you hear (and see) it crack open.
Using a flat-head screwdriver, or another kitchen utensil, wedge in between the meat and the shell to pry them apart. Leverage out the coconut meat from its shell, discarding shell.
Take a vegetable peeler and remove the skin of the meat, then grate or grind the coconut meat as you wish. For decoration, you can take a vegetable peeler and make thin strips, or grate the coconut with a metal grater into shreds or finely chop in a food processor.
Fresh coconut keeps, chilled, in an airtight container, for about one week in the refrigerator but in the freezer, it will last you a good 3 months. One coconut yields about 2 to 2 1/2 cups of desiccated coconut.
- 1 (9-inch) pie shell, baked and cooled
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups milk
- 3 egg yolks, beaten
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups coconut, flaked
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 1 In a saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch and salt; gradually add to milk, stirring until smooth. Bring to a boil, stirring over medium heat and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir 1/2 of hot mixture into egg yolks then combine with rest of the mixture in saucepan.
- 2 Cook, stirring over low heat until boiling and thick enough to mound from spoon – about 5 minutes.
- 3 Turn into bowl; stir in extract and half of coconut. Place waxed paper directly on filling; refrigerate 1 hour. Turn into pie shell; refrigerate 3 hours.
- 4 To serve: Whip cream and spread over filling; top with remaining coconut.