While cooking, listen to this: Still Feel Like Your Man by John Mayer
I'm a self-admitted sitcom-addict. I love short, smart bursts of well-written comedy tied together by a domino effect of jokes. I think the reason I'm so drawn to the sitcom genre is because writing funny dialogue in a short amount of time is incredible challenging. I admire the ease of the humor and the realness of the predicaments. So, it'll come as no surprise that my favorite sitcom, Friends, is one that I can watch ad infinitum and never get bored of.
Everyone makes fun of me for my Friends references. My family, my ex-boyfriend, my friends, both old and new. The references just slip into conversation sometimes, and are almost guaranteed to get a laugh. I have to credit Marta Kauffman and David Crane with some of my best ice breakers. Their dialogue has definitely helped me ease into certain situations. Nothing like a universally appreciated joke to get the ball rolling in a group setting where people don't really know each other.
Rina and I had been staring at Deb's (of smitten kitchen) coconut cream pie recipe for weeks. Every single time I scrolled through her blog, my mouth would water. I'd never had a coconut cream pie before and felt as if I was missing out on one of life's greatest treasures. Thankfully, Rina and I were on the same page, as we often are. We decided to change it up and make a trifle. Something delicious that can be layered in a mason jar and sprinkled with toasted coconut. The end result was absolutely eye-wideningly incredible.
Of course, a Friends reference was due. And if you're an avid watcher - or even an occasional Nick@Nite dabbler, you'll know where I'm going with this one.
"Custard? Good! Jam? Good! Meat? Good!" I said to Rina as I clinked my spoon against the side of the jar. This stuff was the best. Honestly, even if Rachel Green had made this recipe and actually put beef in the trifle, I still would have eaten it. Because each ingredient is the perfect compliment to the other - and is weirdly light and rich at the same time.
So you don't accidentally make half a shepards pie and half of a trifle, we've included some photos so you know exactly what you're getting yourself into. Truly, this dessert is a masterpiece that will wow your friends, undoubtedly. While we're always proponents of homemade ingredients, we completely understand those who prefer store bought ingredients - you could certainly buy frozen pie crust and pre-made whipped cream. Highly recommend making the real stuff, though. Redi-whip just doesn't quite make the cut here.
Just like a good sitcom, this dessert will warm your belly and your spirit. A DIY dessert that's filled to the brim with whipped cream is a dream come true for me, and I'm willing to bet it'll soon be yours. Apologies to the dessert gods for not discovering this stuff sooner, but in all fairness, once you've had coconut cream pie there's no going back.
COCONUT CREAM PIE TRIFLE
Yield: about 5 16-ounce mason jars, or 10 8-ounce mason jars
Active Cook Time: 25m | Inactive Cook Time: 25m, plus chilling (see note)
Category: Sweet, Pies + Tarts
Source: recipe from smitten kitchen
Special Equipment: 8-ounce or 16-ounce jars, food processor (optional), wax paper, grater (if making crust by hand), 9-inch pie pan
Note: this recipe has a lot of steps and requires a good amount of chilling - the pastry cream needs to sit in the fridge ideally overnight, so make sure to plan ahead. It is SO worth it.
coconut pastry cream:
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup + 2 Tablespoons granulated or vanilla sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped*
2 large eggs
1 cup milk of choice
1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk**
2 cups VERY loosely packed sweetened shredded coconut
4 Tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, cubed***
coconut pie crust:
1 cup + 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
½ cup VERY loosely packed sweetened shredded coconut
1 ½ teaspoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, VERY cold
3 Tablespoons very cold water, plus more if needed
2½ cups heavy whipping cream, chilled
2 Tablespoons granulated or powdered sugar, plus more to taste
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
⅔ cup shredded sweetened coconut
*don't you dare throw out that vanilla bean - stick it in a jar or container, pour 2 cups of granulated sugar over it and seal tightly. In 1-2 weeks you'll have homemade vanilla sugar!
**use the leftover coconut milk in a smoothie, stir-fry or soup, or freeze it in ice cube trays for later use.
***Rina forgot to add the butter and it still tasted bomb, so if you don't feel like adding it or you forget it too, don't sweat it.
Make the coconut pastry cream: in a medium saucepan mix together, off heat, the flour, salt, sugar and vanilla bean, if using (extract comes later). Whisk in one egg, then the second. Whisk in the milk of choice, followed by the coconut milk, followed by the shredded coconut. Place on medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring throughout. Once simmering, cook for 4-7 minutes, stirring throughout, until it has thickened - you'll be able to feel it in the stirring as well as see it. Take off the heat and stir in the butter a few cubes at a time until fully melted, followed by the vanilla extract, if using. Pour into a bowl and place some plastic wrap directly on top of the cream. Chill in the fridge ideally overnight, or at least a few hours, until super thick and custardy.
Make the coconut crust with a food processor: add in the flour, shredded coconut, sugar and salt and pulse to combine. Cube the cold butter and pulse until the butter resembles small peas. Drizzle the cold water over the mixture and pulse just until the water is mixed in (undermixed is better than overmixed here).
Make the coconut crust by hand: the buttons on Rina's food processor literally melted, so we went the Luddite route. Mince the shredded coconut by hand, and then stick it in a large bowl with the flour, sugar and salt. Stir to combine. Grate the cold butter into the bowl - this leaves you with tiny butter bits that you can just stir in, rather than chunks you have to work in with your hands or pastry cutter and risk over-warming. Once grated, incorporate the butter using your hands, two forks or a pastry cutter. The mixture should now resemble small peas. Drizzle the cold water on top and mix until the water is just incorporated.
Chill the coconut crust (both methods): Turn out onto a sheet of wax paper, dry bits and all, form into a disc and stick in the fridge for at least an hour; it can hang out in there for up to 1 week.
Roll the coconut crust: on a well-floured surface, roll out the dough into a 12- or 13-inch circle (reminder that Rina is horrific at spatial reasoning and eyeballing is totally fine here). Drape onto a 9-inch pie pan, making sure to not stretch the dough, and gently press into the pan. Since we're crumbling this up later, flutes don't matter as much - flute or no flute are both fine! Stick this in the freezer for about 20 minutes, or until it's totally solid. You can also stick it back in the fridge for an hour or so.
Preheat oven: 400F.
Dock and bake coconut crust: take the crust out of the freezer/fridge and dock all over with the tines of a fork. Take some tinfoil and press it into the crust and pan, so that it is completely covered (this takes the place of pie weights - thanks, Deb!). Bake for 20 minutes with the foil on, then take out of the oven and VERY gently and safely, remove the foil. Stick back in the oven for another 10-12 minutes, until the crust is a light golden brown. Allow to cool completely.
Toast shredded coconut: turn the oven down to 350F and place the ⅔ cup of coconut onto a dry baking sheet. Toast the coconut until it's a nice toasty brown color, about 15 minutes or so. The key here is that you HAVE to stir it every 3 minutes or so - it will burn on you in an instant and it won't feel bad about it. Keep your eye on it and you'll have some gorgeous toasted coconut. Allow to cool completely.
Whip some cream: coconut cream pie is supposed to have a precise fuck-ton of whipped cream, so that measurement over there is not an error. Whip the heavy cream, vanilla and sugar until very stiff. You can use a stand mixer, a hand mixer, or a whisk and an arm of steel.
Assemble: phew! You made it. Take some clean, dry jars and start your layering - crumble up the pie crust and put some down as a first layer, followed by some coconut pastry cream and some whipped cream. To get clean lines, make sure there's no pastry cream or whipped cream smeared in the jar - use some paper towel to clean a layer before continuing. Repeat one more time, really mounding the whipped cream on top. Sprinkle with toasted coconut, grab a spoon, and get to business.
To keep: this is an amazing recipe to make ahead, because the crust dough can hang out in the fridge for 1 week, and the coconut pastry cream can join it for 1-2 days. The whipped cream and toasted coconut should be made the day of, though.