Musings from a Seattle personal chef
It’s time once again for Easter decadence. As I wrote last year, I love to make desserts this time of year since there’s always plenty of people to help rid me of leftovers.
While contemplating this year’s concoction, I became inspired when I tried Tom Douglas‘ coconut cream pie at Etta’s. It’s loaded with coconut — in the crust, the pastry cream and in the garnish. The recipe is in his “Seattle Kitchen” cookbook, so I thought I’d give it a whirl. But as always, my brain started revving in overdrive. How could I make it my own?
I then remembered I had a half a bag of almond meal flour in my fridge, left over from a recipe for brown butter rhubarb-almond cake that Bill Gates’ pastry chef prepared when the premier of China came to town. Let’s see, what has almond and coconut? An Almond Joy candy bar, of course!
I figured I could incorporate the almond meal into the crust, along with shredded coconut. I’d then spread chocolate ganache onto the pre-baked crust before filling it with the pastry cream. Tom’s filling calls for regular milk, but I wanted to boost the coconut flavor by using coconut milk. I also added some almond extract to both the crust and the filling. In addition to the toasted shaved coconut, I garnished the top with toasted almond slices and dark chocolate (I found one with coconut bits, but you could certainly use plain).
I think this is about as decadent as it gets!
Almond Joy Pie
(Note: if you can’t find or don’t want to purchase almond meal flour — it’s pretty pricey — you can just use regular flour and increase the amount of almond extract, if desired).
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup almond meal flour
1/2 cup shredded coconut (I used unsweetened, but you could also use sweetened)
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch dice
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons water, or more as needed
1 teaspoon almond extract (or more to taste)
Combine flour, coconut, butter, sugar and salt in a food processor. Pulse to form coarse crumbs. Ad the almond extract, then the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition. Add only as much water as needed for the dough to hold together when pressed between your fingers. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Unwrap dough and place on a lightly floured work surface. Roll out to 1/8″ thick and place into a glass pie pan. Trim edges to a 1/2″ overhang. Turn edges of dough under and flute. Place in the freezer for 1/2 hour (this will help keep it from shrinking when baked).
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place a piece of parchment onto the dough and fill with pie weights or beans. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until edges begin to brown. Remove weights and parchment and continue to bake until bottom has golden-brown patches, about 8-12 minutes more.
1/2 cup whipping cream
6 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate
Bring cream just to the boil, remove from heat and stir in chocolate. Continue to stir until chocolate is smooth. Let cool slightly. When crust is cool pour ganache over it and spread up the sides with a spatula. Let cool in the fridge.
2 cups coconut milk
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
2 teaspoons almond extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup butter, softened
Combine coconut milk and coconut in a saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add the seeds and pod to the milk mixture. Heat over medium-high until the mixture almost comes to a boil.
Whisk eggs, sugar and cornstarch together in a bowl. Temper the eggs by whisking in a bit of the milk mixture, then add back into the pan with the rest of the coconut milk. Continue to heat, whisking constantly, until milk mixture becomes very thick. Remove from heat and whisk in butter. Remove vanilla bean pod and place mixture into a bowl. Set bowl over ice and whisk until cool.
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (can also use 1/2 vanilla, 1/2 almond)
Mix all ingredients in a chilled bowl and whisk with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.
1/2 cup toasted shaved coconut
1/3 cup toasted sliced almond
Shaved dark chocolate, to taste
To assemble pie, pour chilled pastry cream into shell and top with dollops of whipped cream. Sprinkle with garnishes and serve!