I’m not a fan of coconut…never have been. There’s something about the consistency of a mouthful of coconut that makes me think of Easter grass. As a kid, every time I ate a slice of coconut cream pie, I was left with a mouthful of coconut “grass.” HOWEVER, for whatever reason, I LOVE coconut flavoring, Mounds candy bars, cream of coconut, coconut water, coconut ale, and coconut porter. (Don’t get me started on how amazing coconut beer is…OMG!)
Maybe it’s because I grew up in Florida with coconut trees lining the streets and key lime trees in our backyard or maybe it’s my freakish love suntan lotion smell and margaritas. Either way, the combination of coconut and key lime is a match made in heaven. The coconut balances the tartness of the lime, and the lime cuts through the creamy sweetness of the coconut. If you don’t believe me, mix a frozen margarita with a pina colada. It’s heaven in a glass…with an umbrella.
When I created my Sittin on a Sandbar Key Lime Pie for the 2013 National Pie Championships, I used the coconut-key lime combination but made key lime the star. This year, I reversed it. Key Lime became the back up singers and coconut took center stage. With that in mind, what was created was creamy, smooth, richly coconuty, but with a hint of acid to lighten the sweetness.
2 c. crushed shortbread cookies
2 TBSP sugar
1/2 c. sweetened coconut flakes-finely chopped
5 TBSP butter-melted
Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Press into a 9” pie plate. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and cool before filling.
8 oz. cream cheese
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
15 oz sweetened condensed milk
1 TBSP cornstarch
1 c. cream of coconut
½ c. coconut milk
3 TBSP key lime juice
1 tsp coconut extract
In a bowl, beat cream cheese, cornstarch, and eggs until smooth. Add sweetened condensed milk. Beat until smooth. Whisk in cream of coconut, coconut milk, key lime juice, and coconut extract. (I’ve learned that a blender works great for making this mixture velvety smooth.)
Create a double boiler by filling a 2 qt double boiler half way with water. Bring water to a boil. Reduce to medium, and place bowl of pie filling over simmering water. Whisk pie filling constantly until thick and bubbly.
Pour into prepared crust and chill until set.
Whipped Cream Layer
1 c. heavy cream
1 c. powdered sugar
½ tsp vanilla
¼ tsp coconut extract
Beat in a mixer until still peaks form. Pipe large rosettes around edge of pie.
Sprinkle ¼ c. finely ground shortbread cookies around edges of whipped cream. Top with toasted coconut curls and white chocolate sea shells