Have you heard? I made a pie! My very first real pie ever!
And what a beautiful pie it was:
I bet you’re wondering what was in this oh-so-amazing pie. I’ll let you into the loop.
Coconut. AND, the secret surprise inside: pecans.
This was a really great pie.
I was inspired to make this pie while flipping through The New York Times Cookbook, looking for their famous chocolate chip cookie recipe (sadly, the cookie recipe wasn’t there!), and came across the pie section. I decided it was high time for me to make a pie.
Originally, it was just going to be a coconut cream pie, but on a whim, I decided to throw in some pecans. Pecans are one of my absolute favorite things, ever. Like, really, ever. The pecan layer is actually just something created on the spot. Aren’t I cool.
It all started with a carefully prepared crust. If you missed my pie crust post from yesterday, check it out here.
However, I did make a slight alteration to the original recipe. I substituted 1/2 cup pecans, finely crushed, and 1/2 whole wheat flour for one of the cups of all purpose flour. It was reeeaallyyy yummy and I recommend you do this, too.
After making the crust, I made the pie filling, consisting of three layers: a short layer of (loosely termed) pecan pie filling, coconut cream custard, and a meringue to top it off.
I told you this was a great pie.
For the pecan layer: combine three tablespoons sweetened condensed milk, two tablespoons brown sugar, and 1 teaspoon vanilla, then pour over the bottom of the pie crust as evenly as possible. Add more liquid if necassary. Then align about 3/4 cup chopped pecans all over the crust. Drizzle the whole thing liberally with honey.
Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. If you are not done with the coconut custard by then, remove from the oven and set aside.
For the custard layer: I had never made custard or pudding homemade before this, so I was running around trying to do about three things at once to make sure nothing burned. But it was for naught. Stay calm (and eat some chocolate).
The recipe requires scalded milk. I discovered this means the milk needs to be heated in a double boiler almost to the point of boiling, so that it is frothy-looking with bubbles around the edges. Stir it periodically so it doesn’t burn. Or, it can be scalded in the microwave, if you check on its frothiness every twenty seconds.
Meanwhile, mix 1/4 cup of the sugar with the cornstarch and salt. When the milk has scalded, add it to the sugar mixture, then add a tablespoon of butter. Heat the whole thing in a double boiler, stirring constantly, until it has thickened a bit.
Next, beat two egg yolks (save the whites for the meringue), and add a little of the milk mixture. Beat this, then add to the remaining milk mixture and cook until it has thickened to about the consistency of pudding, stirring all the while.
Add the vanilla and 1/2 cup coconut, then pour into the pie shell on top of the pecan layer.
Now make the meringue. Beat the egg whites until they are foamy and beat in the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar.
When the meringue is stiff, but still fluffy, pour it over the custard layer.
Make sure the meringue touches the pie crust at all points.
Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup coconut on top, and bake at 325 degrees for about fifteen minutes or until lightly browned on top.
Now that wasn’t too hard, was it? Easy as triple-layered pie.
Cloud Nine Pie inspired by The New York Times Cookbook by Craig Claiborne
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup finely crushed pecans
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 2/3 cup shortening or butter
- 1/3 cup water, or as needed
- 1 tbs sweetened condensed milk
- 2 tbs brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 3/4 cup chopped pecans
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Combine first three ingredients and spread on the bottom of the pie crust.
- Arrange pecans over the liquid. Drizzle liberally with honey.
- Bake for twenty minutes. Remove from oven and set aside until other layers are ready.
Coconut Custard Layer
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3 tbs cornstarch
- 1 pinch salt
- 2 cups milk (I used skim)
- 1 tbs butter
- 2 egg yolks (save white for the meringue!)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup grated coconut
- Scald milk: heat in a double boiler, stirring constantly, until frothy. Or, heat in the microwave, stirring every 2o seconds, until frothy.
- Combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Gradually add scalded milk. Add butter.
- Cook in the double boiler, stirring constantly, until it has thickened.
- Beat the egg yolks. Add a little of the milk mixture, stir, then add this to the rest of the milk mixture. Cook this in the double boiler, stirring until it has thickened to about the consistency of pudding.
- Add the vanilla and coconut, give it a quick stir, and pour into the pie shell on top of the pecan layer.
- Reduce oven to 325 degrees.
- 2 egg whites
- 1/4 cup sugar
- Beat the egg whites until frothy.
- Still beating, gradually add the sugar.
- Beat until the mixture has stiffened and is very fluffy.
- Pour over custard and top with 1/2 cup coconut. Bake for 15 minutes or until lightly browned.
Conclusions: This was dubbed the Cloud Nine Pie because the first reaction from my taste tester was, “OMG, it tastes just like a cloud!” I’m sure this is a very accurate description based on the many clouds my friend has tasted.
No, but really, this pie was that good. The crushed pecans in the crust give it a very sweet flavor, and it was actually one of the best pie crusts I’ve ever had. I think the next time I make a crust, I might reduce the amount of butter.
Despite how complicated the custard recipe sounded (to me at least), it’s actually quite simple as long as you follow the steps. I’ve never made a meringue before, either, and this was surprisingly the easiest part. Each layer of the pie was scrumptious on its own, and together, this pie was an absolute dream.
This recipe was also featured as a guest post for At 350 Degrees! Check out the post here.