This is the inaugural pie post for the blog! Somehow in in the course of seven years a pie never actually made it onto the blog. I suppose I rarely make pies which probably helps contribute to that… Anyhow, this is a pie I am happy to welcome as the first to the blog – a slight riff off of a classic coconut cream pie, and a lovely riff.
I took the standard rich coconut custard and infused it with lemongrass; lemongrass is herb, citrus and aroma, but without the acerbic acidity of lemon, allowing its brightness to exist seamlessly with creamy custard.
This is also a rather low sugar dessert, having only 1/4 cup of sugar in the custard (the pie crust, optionally 100% whole wheat as I tend to make it, has only salt to keep it from tasting bland, and I use unsweetened whipped cream on top). Absolutely add more sugar as per your own taste preferences. I sweeten desserts to what I think they need and I find for me, this pie already feels 100% dessert between the custard, cream and buttery flake.
lemongrass coconut cream pie
In making this I tried and referred to a few different recipes but the final version takes most resemblance from the coconut cream pie from Sally’s Baking Addiction.
- 1 1/4 c (150g) flour (either all-purpose or whole wheat, depending on your preference)
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 stick cold butter, cut into cubes
- 1/4 to 3/8 cup ice water
- 400mL can of coconut milk
- 180mL (3/4 c) whole milk
- 120mL (1/2 c) heavy cream (if you’re already using a very rich coconut milk, you can replace this with milk instead)
- 1 to 1 1/2 stalks lemongrass
- 32g cornstarch
- 50g granulated sugar (increase to 100g for a more standard sweetness)
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 4 egg yolks
- 80g (1 c) shredded coconut
- 220g whipped cream* (see note)
- toasted coconut flakes
Whisk together the flour and salt in a bowl. Add the butter, tossing to coat it with the flour. Use two knives or a pastry cutter to cut the butter into the flour until it forms fine crumbs. Add ice water as needed to bring it together into a rough dough. 1/4 cup should be sufficient, but sometimes I’ve used up to 3/8 cup. Add what you need as it can vary – though generally the less you use, the better! Knead the dough a couple times to help bring it together, then form into a disk, wrap in plastic and chill completely.
Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a circle larger than the pie plate. Drape the dough into the pie plate and press it down into the corners. I like to have a thicker edge crust so I trim the pastry such that there is a 1″ or so overhang all the way around. Then tuck the overhanding pastry underneath so the edge is a double thickness of dough. Crimp the edges, dock the bottom of the pie crust thoroughly, then cover and freeze the pie crust completely. (Alternatively, if you don’t have freezer room, chill in the fridge instead! Baking time may be a bit less.)
Preheat the oven to 400F. Crumple a piece of parchment paper so it will better mould to the shape of the pie crust. Take the pie crust from the freezer, line with the parchment paper and fill with pie weights (I use uncooked rice).
Bake for about 15 minutes or until the edges of the pie are crisped. Remove the weights and dock the bottom again.
Turn the temperature to 375F. Bake for another 25 minutes or so, or until the pie crust is golden and cooked throughout. Let cool completely.
Begin by infusing the milks with lemongrass. Combine the coconut milk, milk and cream in a saucepan. Cut the lemongrass into four or so pieces and slice each piece lengthwise. Take the lemongrass and bend the pieces along all their length – akin to muddling herbs in order to help bruise the lemongrass and release the flavour.
Heat the milk until it reaches a simmer. Remove from the heat and stir in the lemongrass. Cover and set aside to cool, then transfer to the fridge to infuse overnight or up to a few days.
The next day pass the infused milk through a strainer to remove the lemongrass. Place in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.
Meanwhile, while the milk is warming up, whisk together the cornstarch, sugar, salt and egg yolks in a bowl.
Once the milk has just begun to bubble, slowly pour some into the egg yolk mixture while whisking constantly in order to temper the yolks. Return to the saucepan and place over medium-high heat while whisking constantly. Allow the mixture to begin to bubble and cook for one minute while bubbling (being sure to whisk as vigorously as you can) to ensure the starch is cooked. The cream should be quite thick. Remove from the heat and stir in the shredded coconut.
Spread into the baked pie crust. Press a piece of plastic directly onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming and chill completely.
The next day, whip the cream until billowy. If you like, whisk in a bit of sugar to taste. Spread over the pie followed by the toasted coconut flakes.
Note: I sometimes infuse the whipped cream on top with lemongrass too – if you want to do this, cold infuse the cream with 1/2 stalk crushed/bent lemongrass for at least 24 hours in the fridge. It’s best not to warm up the cream to avoid accidental overheating if you’re going to whip it later.