I love to bake and have had lots of great teachers in my mom, sister-in-law, friends and my TV obsessions…Great British Baking Show and the America’s Test Kitchen.  But, living in the south, means hot summers and no one wants to stand over a hot oven, so I turn to quick baking or, no-bake-at-all, pies!

It’s become my gifting tradition in my family to bake whatever the birthday person wishes for and this June my mom chose coconut pie.  It turned to the Test Kitchen for a recipe and used my mom’s old pie plate to truly make it special. It was delicious!


Coconut Cream Pie

(From the Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook)

Their notes: Don’t use low-fat coconut milk here because it doesn’t have enough flavor. Also, don’t confuse coconut milk with cream of coconut. The filling should be warm–neither piping hot nor room temperature–when poured into the cooled pie crust. To toast the coconut, place it in a small skillet over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, for 3-5 minutes. It burns quite easily, so keep a close eye on it.

1 (14oz.) can coconut milk (see note)
1 cup whole milk
½ cup (1 ¼oz) unsweetened shredded coconut
2/3 cup (4 2/3oz.) sugar
¼ tsp. table salt
5 large egg yolks
¼ cup (1 ounce) cornstarch
2 Tbl. unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces
1 ½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 recipe Graham Cracker Crust, baked and cooled (below)

8 whole graham crackers, broken into 1” pieces
5 Tbl. unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 Tbl. sugar
1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Process the graham cracker pieces in a food processor to fine, even crumbs, about 30 seconds. Sprinkle the butter and sugar over the crumbs and pulse to incorporate.
2. Sprinkle the mixture into a 9” pie plate. Use the bottom of a measuring cup to press the crumbs into an even layer on the bottom and sides of the pie plate. Bake until the crust is fragrant and beginning to brown, 13-18 minutes.

1 ½ cups heavy cream, chilled
1 ½ Tbl. sugar
1 ½ tsp. dark rum (optional)
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tbl. unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted (see note)

1. For the filling: bring the coconut milk, whole milk, shredded coconut, 1/3 cup of the sugar, and the salt to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.
2. As the milk mixture begins to simmer, whisk the remaining 1/3 cup sugar, the egg yolks, and cornstarch together in a separate bowl. Slowly whisk 1 cup of the simmering coconut milk mixture into the yolk mixture to temper, then slowly whisk the tempered yolks back into the simmering saucepan. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, whisking vigorously, until the mixture is thickened and a few bubbles burst on the surface, about 30 seconds.
3. Off the heat, whisk in the butter and vanilla. Cool the mixture until just warm, stirring often, about 5 minutes.
4. Pour the warm filling into the baked and cooled pie crust. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the filling and refrigerate the pie until the filling is chilled and set, about 4 hours.
5. For the topping: Before serving, whip the cream, sugar, rum (if using), and vanilla together with an electric mixer on medium-low speed until frothy, about 1 minute. Increase the mixer speed to high and continue to whip until the cream forms soft peaks, 1 to 3 minutes. Spread the whipped cream attractively over the top of the pie and sprinkle with the toasted coconut.

A very good friend of mine introduced me to buttermilk pie and it was love at first sight! It’s one of those pies that goes great with fresh summery fruits like peaches and berries.  I’ve had it with strawberries and even cranberries. It’s so versatile and easy and I think I may need to bake one asap! I’m a huge fan of Joy Wilson, of Joy the Baker, and was given my first cookbook of hers while pregnant with my son, and I think that’s where he and I both became obsessed with Joy and baking in general! Here’s a recipe for her Buttermilk Pie with Blackberry Sauce. Go get you some!

Pies don’t have to be all about fruit…chocolate and pie go hand-in-hand! One of my favorite recipes is from Real Simple Magazine’s November 2004 issue.

Chocolate Pecan Pie

(Real Simple Magazine, November 2004)

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbl. sugar
1/8 tsp. kosher salt
½ cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces
1 ½ Tbl cold water
½ tsp. vanilla

Place the dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until crumbly. Add the water and vanilla. Pulse until the dough just comes together. Form into a disk. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill 15 minutes. Roll the dough out on a floured surface into a 12” circle. Fit the dough into a 9” pie plate. Refrigerate until needed.

1 ¼ cups light corn syrup
½ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
3 eggs, beaten
3 Tbl. unsalted butter, melted
3 tsp. dark rum (optional)
½ tsp. vanilla extract
¼ tsp. salt
1 ¾ cups pecan halves
¾ cup chocolate chips
Whipped cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together the first 8 ingredients. Stir in the pecans. Scatter the chocolate over the prepared piecrust and cover with the filling. Bake until the center is set, 45-50 minutes. Let cool completely. Serve with the cream, if desired.

There are SO many amazing pie recipes out there! I hope you enjoy these three and feel free to point me in the direction of your favorite pie recipe! If you’ll excuse me…I’ve got some butter to cut!

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