It’s nearly Thanksgiving, and that means that in just a few short days your table is going to filled with people expecting to eat (among other things) some serious pie. And since oven space is at a premium on The Big Day, and you’re already making that apple pie in a bag (please tell me you’re making that!), a make-ahead Gluten Free Coconut Cream Pie is just the thing. Don’t you think? It’s easy! C’mon I’ll show you.
See? Easy. If you’re looking for step-by-steps for making the dough for the pie crust, look back at that apple pie post, and you’ll find all you need. But for this gorgeous, smooth coconut cream pie, we’re not baking the filling, and it’s a single pie crust—not a double. Not only does this pie insist upon being made ahead, but if you felt like making it even 2 days ahead of time, it would be good as new on Thanksgiving (or any old day you’d like to serve it, of course). The filling calls for light canned coconut milk (I used Thai Kitchen brand), so be sure you don’t reach for a carton of coconut milk—or full-fat coconut milk in the can, which is just too thick.
This is an important skill, too, this making-a-single-flaky-gluten-free-pie-crust. The big secret? Don’t be so afraid of overbaking the crust! That’s how you get a flaky crust, even when the filling is wet like this coconut cream. You’re looking for the crust to be lightly golden brown all over. You might find that the bottom of the crust even gets a little darker, like mine did—and that’s perfectly fine. As long as you’re careful not to let it burn, all will be well.
A note about the filling: This filling will slice clean, but don’t expect it to set up like a pie made with gelatin. If you’d like the pie to slice more like fudge, simply do the following: bloom 1 packet of powdered unflavored gelatin in 2 tablespoons of cool water and allow the gelatin to swell (about 3 minutes). Add the bloomed gelatin to the hot filling mixture right before you add the chopped butter. Mix until the gelatin is melted, then remove the pan from the heat, add the chopped butter and proceed with the recipe instructions.
3 cups (24 fl. oz.) light canned coconut milk, at room temperature (I used Thai Kitchen brand)
4 egg yolks (120 g total), at room temperature
3 tablespoons (42 g) unsalted butter, chopped
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Topping 3/4 cup (6 fluid ounces) heavy whipping cream, chilled
1/4 cup (29 g) confectioners’ sugar
Make the pie dough. In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder and salt, and whisk to combine well. Add the chopped and chilled butter, and toss to coat it in the dry ingredients. Flatten each chunk of butter between your thumb and forefinger. Add 1/3 cup of water and mix until the dough begins to come together. Add the remaining water by the teaspoon until no part of the dough is crumbly. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured piece of unbleached parchment paper and press into a disk. Sprinkle the dough lightly with more flour, and roll it out into a rectangle that is about 1 inch thick, moving the dough frequently and sprinkling it lightly with flour if it begins to stick. Fold the dough over on itself like you would a business letter. Sprinkle the dough again lightly with flour, and roll out the dough once again into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Twice more, remove the top piece of parchment paper, sprinkle lightly with flour, and fold the dough over on itself like you would a business letter. This will smooth out the dough and make it quite easy to handle. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to chill.
Make the pie shell. Preheat your oven to 425°F.Grease a 9-inch metal pie plate generously and set aside. Remove the pie dough from the refrigerator. Place on a lightly floured piece of unbleached parchment paper, dust lightly with flour, and roll into a 12-inch round, about 3/8-inch thick. Roll the pie crust loosely on the rolling pin and then unroll it over the prepared pie plate. Press the pie crust gently into the bottom and up the sides of the pie plate and, with kitchen shears, trim the excess crust so that only 1/4-inch of excess is overhanging the plate. Tuck the 1/4-inch of excess under itself, and crimp the edge gently all the way around the crust. Pierce the bottom of the pie crust with the tines of a fork and place the pie plate in the freezer to chill for 5 minutes.*
*At this point, the raw pie shell can be wrapped tightly and frozen for up to a month.
Bake the pie shell. Remove the pie plate from the freezer and place a large piece of unbleached parchment paper in the center of the crust. Place pie weights or dried beans in a single layer in the center of the pie crust, on top of the paper. Place in the center of the preheated oven and bake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and remove the paper and pie weights. Return to the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 375°F. Continue to bake until the crust is lightly golden brown all over (8 to 10 minutes more). If you don’t bake the crust until it is golden brown all over, your pie will have a soggy crust once it is filled. Remove the pie crust from the oven and allow it to cool completely.
Toast the coconut chips. Place the coconut chips in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet lined with unbleached parchment paper. Place the baking sheet in the center of the preheated oven and bake until the chips are lightly golden brown all over and smell fragrant (about 6 minutes). Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.
Make the filling. In a medium-sized, heat-safe bowl, place the flour blend, sugar and salt, and whisk to combine well. Add 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz.) of the coconut milk, and then the egg yolks, whisking to combine after each addition. Set the mixture aside. In a medium-sized heavy-bottom saucepan, place the remaining 2 1/2 cups (20 fl. oz.) milk and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Once the milk reaches a simmer, remove the saucepan from the heat and add the hot milk to the bowl with the egg mixture in a slow trickle, whisking constantly to combine. The purpose of adding the hot milk slowly is to avoid cooking the egg yolks by bringing them up to temperature slowly. Once all of the hot milk has been added, pour the whole mixture back into the saucepan and return to the heat. Cook, whisking constantly, over medium-high heat until thickened enough that the whisk leaves a visible trail in the mixture as you whisk it (2 to 3 minutes). Remove the pan from the heat, and add the chopped butter and the vanilla, and stir until the butter is melted and the mixture is smooth. Crush about 3/4 of the toasted coconut chips, add them to the filling, and mix to distribute the coconut evenly throughout. Pour the filling into the cooled shell and spread into an even layer. Allow the filling to cool for about 5 minutes. Cover the pie with plastic wrap, placing the plastic directly on the surface of the filling to avoid its developing a pudding “skin.” Place in the refrigerator to chill until set (at least 2 hours and up to 2 days).
Make the topping and serve. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or a large bowl with a hand mixer), beat the heavy whipping cream and the confectioners’ sugar on medium-high speed until stiff (but not dry) peaks form (about 3 minutes). Beating the cream on medium-high for a longer time instead of high speed will make a more stable whipped cream. Remove the plastic wrap from the chilled pie and spread the whipped cream on top and sprinkle with the remaining toasted coconut chips. Slide the pie out of the shell onto a cutting board before slicing with a wet knife and serving.