Pi Day was first celebrated in 1988 at the San Francisco Exploratorium, and continues to be recognized and commemorated the world over, not only by math enthusiasts, but by many people who simply want an excuse to eat pie, and enjoy the day consuming the delicious edible orbs – from savory to sweet.
Our family observed the occasion with my daughters third favorite flavor of pie – Coconut Cream.
COCONUT CREAM PIE
1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1 teaspoon unflavored powdered gelatin
2 cups cream
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sweetened cream of coconut
1 cup crushed Nilla Wafer cookies
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (I added a couple of extra)
Toasted coconut flakes, for garnish
MAKE THE FILLING
In a small bowl, whisk 1/4 cup of the coconut milk with the gelatin. In a medium saucepan, combine the remaining 1 1/4 cups of coconut milk with 1/2 cup of the cream. Add the sugar, corn syrup, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and the vanilla bean and seeds; bring just to a simmer over moderately high heat. Whisk in the cornstarch mixture and bring to a boil, then simmer, whisking constantly, until thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the gelatin mixture until dissolved, then whisk in the butter and 1/4 cup of the cream of coconut. Strain the filling through a fine sieve into a heatproof bowl; discard the vanilla bean. Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the filling and let cool, then refrigerate until well chilled, about 1 hour.
MAKE THE CRUST
Heat oven to 325F. In a food processor, pulse the cookies with all of the remaining ingredients except the toasted coconut. Transfer the crumbs to a 9-inch pie plate. Press the crumbs evenly over the bottom and up the side of the pie plate. Bake the crust for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating half-way through baking, until dry and lightly browned. Let cool.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the remaining 1 1/2 cups of cream, 2 tablespoons of cream of coconut and 1/4 teaspoon of salt until firm. Fold one-third of the whipped cream into the filling until no streaks remain. Spread the filling in the crust. Mound the whipped cream on top and refrigerate the pie for at least 2 hours. Garnish with toasted coconut before serving.
Recipe adapted from Food and Wine, March 2015