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Author Notes: Well, I got to thinking. I love coconut milk and lime. I do not like sweetened condensed milk very much. I love a good cream pie and I came across some wonderful organic Meyer lemons in my local market recently. So I began to think how I might make all of these lovely ingredients--not to mention my farm eggs--go together harmoniously in a lovely silken cream pie. I read and searched. I could not find a cream pie recipe based on coconut milk, nor could I find a lemon cream pie, nor a key lime pie that was not really dependent on sweetened condensed milk. You see, for me sweetened condensed milk is just too sweet. I have tried to make it myself, but it does require a lot of sugar to make it work. So I continued to search and experiment. And I have finally come up with an excellent cream filling for cream pie! It is flexible and can be tweaked to accommodate a wide variety of flavors--meaning lots of variations on a theme. MMMM:)
A word about full fat coconut milk. It can dull the flavor you add to it, so punch up the flavor if you want it to be dramatic--full cup of juice, lots of zest, good concentrate of fruit syrup, cocoa powder AND unsweetened chocolate; extra vanilla, spice--you get the idea!
So here is the basic recipe using citrus. Liquid should equal 3 cups for this recipe. Egg yolks about 1/3 a cup. I say this because if you are using farm eggs, then the yolks are not very standard in size--at least the farm I get them from is a wide variety. Commercial eggs are pretty standardized. I use about 2tsp cornstarch, or just a tad less, for each egg yolk. This recipe goes together beautifully. I wish I were good enough at internet stuff to give you pictures, but perhaps you'll take a chance anyway.....
Another word about coconut milk. I use brands that have no additives. These will have the fat separating from the water. I gently warm the open can in a water bath until the cream is beginning to melt, the pour it into my 3 qt saucepan. I stir in the cornstarch, sugar and salt until the lumps are gone, then whisk in my eggs, then add the balance of my liquid (in this recipe a cup of citrus juice). So the coconut milk is barely warm and doesn't prevent the cornstarch from blending, It also is cool enough so that when I whisk in the eggs they do not cook, but incorporate beautifully.
So many flavor options are possible--chocolate, berry, key lime.
The basic trick is balancing the cornstarch with the liquid. I wish I could give you a better guide. If your citrus juice is very acid, you will need more cornstarch, if you use cream, more coconut milk or make chocolate milk, you may need less. So this is the fail part of my fail-safe coconut milk cream pie.
I hope you experiment and find a balance that works for you. And no more need for sweetened condensed milk!
I can't guarantee that there is no other pie out there like this. I did look. This one is a compilation of other recipes, I guess. At least as far as ratios are concerned. The main approach for mixing all the ingredients together BEFORE cooking, come from the Kingsford Cornstarch Lemon Meringue Pie on the back of their box. That recipe was the first that I learned that egg yolks could be whisked and blended into the cold milk and cornstarch, then all brought slowly up to cooked temperature together. No risk of scrambled egg. I was a young girl of about 22 when I first came across that recipe. I have been using that technique ever since. I just sort of laugh at recipes that call for slowly tempering hot liquid into the eggs and hoping they don't curdle. Kingsford's method works very well and now I am 60+! —judy
- 3/4 cup white sugar or to taste
- 7 to 8 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1-14oz cac full fat coconut milk organic
- 1 cup citrus juice
- zest from as many pieces of citrus as desired--I use them all
- 5 egg yolks or about 1/3 cup, whisked until smooth
- 1 pre-baked crust of choice--9"
- Garnish of choice to complement filling
- Combine dry ingredients and set aside; in separate bowl whisk egg yolks until smooth but not frothy.
- Open can of coconut milk and place in small saucepan. Add water to pot about 1/3 up side of pan. Place on slow heat and allow to soften until begins to melt and is barely warm. Pour melting coconut milk int a 3 qt sauce pan--it should still have soft solids in it. Whisk until mostly smooth.
- Add dry ingredients and whisk until incorporated. This may take a couple of minutes. The cornstarch will be lumpy at first, but will blend into the coconut milk. Keep whisking until no lumps. (This step is where you would add cocoa powder if using.)
- Add citrus juice ( or other liquid to equal one cup if making different flavor). Whisk together until smooth
- Place over medium low heat. Bring slowly to a easy bubbling, stirring constantly with a rubber (silicone) spatula. Keep scraping the filling off the bottom of the pan, lifting and stirring and continuously blending. The custard will thicken slowly. This may take as long as 10 or more minutes. Do not be tempted to increase the temperature beyond medium-low. This will cook it too fast and it will burn. When it starts to bubble and the custard mounds slightly, continue to cook stirring and scraping up from the bottom for a couple more minutes.
- Stir in zest and fully blend in. (Here is where you would add bar chocolate if using.)
- Remove from heat and keep stirring. The idea now is to keep stirring to release steam to cool custard. You can speed this up a bit by pouring the custard into a bowl. This gets it out of the hot pot. It will cool faster. But take the time over then next 5-10 minutes to keep stirring, even if you have poured it into another vessel. The more steam that is released while cooling, the more velvety the texture of the custard. ( Stop here if you want a nice rich pudding--put in individual ramekins and garnish as desired. Saves a few calories and effort as well.)
- When almost completely cool, poor into cold pastry shell. Cover closely with plastic wrap laying across custard surface and cool for at least 2 hours up to overnight.
- Garnish as desired to complement your filling. Meringue to use up the whites, then, sprinkle with zest and toasted coconut. Or Whipped cream or whipped coconut cream and chocolate curls if you have made a chocolate pie. Or how about Mulberries, if you have used mulberry syrup as your complement liquid? So many options.