Friday, November 22, 2013

Coconut Meringue Pie

Although this may not be the pie found at the top of the holiday culinary list, it is first choice for my 37 Cooks Holiday Challenge. In the Monsivaiz home, this creamy coconut custard nestled inside a homemade flaky crust and adorned with a mile high, melt-in-your-mouth meringue is the most coveted dessert at our holiday table. We owe this to my husband and, if truth be told, his mama, Gloria Jean, deserves the credit for this nontraditional tradition. 

Early in my marriage, my dear mother-in-law shared this recipe with me, which had been given to her by a fellow nurse she worked with when my husband was only 9 years old. Since then, I have made this pie a hundred times. I will never forget the time my mother-in-law and I stood shoulder-to-shoulder in her kitchen in Mexico City while I completely burned the bottom of the coconut custard on her faithless foreign stove. As a result, I had to toss it and start over using the remaining overpriced, hard to find American ingredients we happened to discover at the local market. It was worth it! This is absolutely my husband's favorite dessert and the one he requests at every pie making opportunity possible, which explains how it has become the pie de résistance in our kitchen at Christmastime.

Coconut Meringue Pie
by Krisi

Single pie crust taken from my Memaw’s recipe:
1 1/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Crisco
3-4 Tablespoons ice cold water

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Sift flour before measuring. Combine flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Using a pastry blender or fork, cut in Crisco until the mixture forms course crumbs. Sprinkle with water, one Tablespoon at a time, mixing gently with a fork after each Tablespoon. When dough sticks together form a ball with our hands, making sure not to overwork the dough as it will become tough. 

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured board or pastry mat until about 1/4-inch thick. As you roll, turn the circle of dough over and add flour to the surface to keep it from sticking. The circle should be 2 inches wider than your pie plate. Fold dough in half, then in half again in order to make transferring the dough to the pie plate without tearing it easier. Unfold the dough in the pie plate and roll the edges of the dough under itself, until the edge of the dough is even with the edge of the pie plate. Flute the edge of the pie crust. Prick the bottom and sides of dough then bake at 450°F for 10 minutes.

Coconut Cream Filling by Gloria Jean:
2 eggs yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup plus 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup water
1 cup flaked coconut
Dash of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup butter
1 baked 9-inch pastry shell

Beat the egg yolks. Combine yolks, sugar, flour, milk, water, coconut, and salt in a medium saucepan; blend thoroughly. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until thickened. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla and butter. Spoon mixture into pastry shell.

4 egg whites at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Beat room temperature egg whites until foamy. Gradually add sugar and cream of tartar; continue beating until stiff peaks form. Spread meringue over filling, sealing to edge of pastry. Using a spatula, lift meringue to create peaks. Sprinkle some coconut on top of meringue. Bake at 400°F for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Cool. Refrigerate until serving time.

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