Kittencal's Bakery Coconut Cream Pie

Coconut Cream Pie is, without a doubt, one of my all-time favorite desserts. Every time I eat at a small-town diner, without exception, I always finish my meal with a slice of homemade coconut cream pie. Over the years I have tried to replicate my favorite pie, with minimal success, until I stumbled across Kittencal’s Bakery Coconut Cream Pie. Kittencal actually states, “… if you are searching for an everyday ordinary pie then pass this by, but if you want the best coconut cream pie on the face of this earth… then I suggest this recipe”. And it is a bakery-quality coconut cream pie recipe… to die for.

In the late 1800’s both Europeans and Americans were really hooked on imported tropical fruit, like pineapples and bananas. Coconuts, however, were hard to transport without spoiling and many people didn’t actually know what to do with them. A French company in what is modern day Sri Lanka started shredding coconut ‘meat’ and drying it for easier shipping and this is when everything changed. Shortly thereafter coconut took the United States by storm when a Philadelphia flour miller received a very large shipment of coconuts as payment of debt from a Cuban businessman and set up his own shredding and drying factory, making coconut accessible to homemakers, commercial bakers and candy makers. Recipes for coconut cream pie started showing up in recipe books and at the beginning of the 1900’s coconut cream pie was everywhere.

A cream pie is any type of pie filled with rich custard or pudding that is typically made from milk, cream, flour and eggs. These are always one-crust pies, with the constant feature of a whipped cream topping. In the case of coconut cream pie, the custard is usually made of either table cream and coconut extract or coconut milk with half and half cream. Kittencal suggests coconut milk and half and half cream is the better route, but also suggests adding the coconut extract (because the stronger the coconut flavor, the better!). In North America half and half almost always refers to a light cream typically used in coffee. The name is actually a reference to the content of half milk and half cream (it usually has a fat content of between 10.5 to 18%). Kittencal also states that if you don’t like the texture of shredded coconut in the smooth, creamy pie filling, you can omit it, because the pie already has so much flavoring you won’t miss the actual coconut. However, if you do want to make a more ‘authentic’ bakery coconut cream pie, then add the coconut (soft, finely flaked, sweetened coconut only). You will want to save some of the coconut for the top of the pie, as a garnishment – for presentation.

Kittencal states that it is the addition of whipped cream that makes this recipe special. I’m not sure if it’s the whipped cream, but this coconut cream pie recipe is rather special. And tasty. And you’ll probably want to eat the whole pie! My excuse for eating it out of the dish is that I don’t want to make a mess when I’m serving it. You better start thinking about your excuse now!

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