Thick, sweet and full of flavour, this is my go-to filling for coconut cream pies and tarts. The recipe yields enough to fill a fully baked 9 inch tart shell or a 9 inch pie pastry, and when chilled it is sturdy enough for tidy slices. A full cup of sugar in the mix allows the custard to hold its own in an unsweetened pie shell, as well as balances the richness of a whipped cream topping. Try pairing the filling with a chocolate crumb crust or a nutty shortbread base for a simple twist on a classic. When purchasing dried coconut, select organic products for the most authentic taste and texture.
Coconut Pastry Cream
For Pies and Tarts
Adapted from “Pastry Cream”, Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours
1 cup whole milk
1 cup full-fat coconut milk
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar (200g)
1/4 cup cornstarch (30g)
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3.5 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 oz)
1/2 cup unsweetened organic coconut, flaked or shredded
Cut the butter into small chunks and allow it to come to room temperature while you prepare the other ingredients.
Combine both milks in a small saucepan and set it over medium heat.
Combine the sugar, cornstarch, and eggs in a medium saucepan and whisk until the mixture is thick and lightened in colour.
When the milk begins to simmer, remove it from the heat and pour about 1/4 cup into the egg mixture while whisking vigorously to prevent the eggs from scrambling. Whisking constantly, slowly add the remaining milk.
Return the saucepan to the heat and continue to whisk while the mixture comes to a boil. Turn down the heat if necessary to prevent the bottom from scorching. Allow the mixture to boil for 1-2 minutes while whisking vigorously, until it is quite thick (about the consistency of mayonnaise). If overcooked, the cream will curdle and require straining.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and quickly whisk in the vanilla extract. Wait 5 minutes, then whisk in the butter one piece at a time. Scrape the pastry cream into a large glass bowl and stir in the coconut while it is still warm. Cover the surface with plastic wrap to create an airtight seal and allow the bowl to cool to room temperature before chilling.
The custard will keep for up to one week in the refrigerator.