My husband's absolute favorite dessert is…
Coconut cream pie.
If we eat at a restaurant with coconut cream pie on the dessert menu, he always orders a slice to try. He enjoys comparing his pie experiences from restaurant to restaurant to see which one is best.
His favorite coconut cream pie hails from a tiny place known as Tina’s Cafe in Ruidoso, New Mexico. Every time he eats a slice — about once a year — his eyes roll back into his head and he enters a euphoric state. Coconut cream pie at Tina’s is his happy place.
You see, I have something to confess (and it’s a little embarrassing): We’ve been married for almost 13 years, and I’ve never made him a coconut cream pie. Pretty sad, huh?
Honestly, I was fairly certain I didn’t like coconut cream pie. And yes, that’s a pretty poor excuse for never making it for my hubby. 🙁 I might still have made it for him a long time ago, except that we discovered Tina’s and I was sure I couldn’t compete.
Then my husband had a birthday…
I debated long and hard over calling Tina’s and asking them to overnight a coconut cream pie — but then I snapped back into reality and realized it would cost me an arm and a leg and probably wouldn’t produce the same eye-rolling euphoria my husband would expect.
I scoured Pinterest. The search terms “healthy coconut cream pie” turned up little more than pies made with refrigerated dough, low-fat boxed pudding mixes, and sweetened coconut. The search terms “Paleo coconut cream pie” didn’t turn up any actual pies at all! I got a lot of bars topped with coconut butter or cakes topped with coconut whipped cream.
I even called my mother-in-law, who gave me David’s grandmother’s recipe. Surely I could do something with that. She’s probably gotten rave reviews, but this particular recipe was made with white flour and called for nearly 2 cups of white sugar and quite a lot of margarine. That was a no-go too.
It was settled. I had to create my own recipe…for a dessert I’d never even had before!
THIS coconut cream pie has nothing to hide — no white flour, no refined sugar, no boxed pudding, and no margarine. In fact, if you make a coconut flour or almond flour crust, it’s totally Paleo! Enjoy the benefits of pastured egg yolks, gut-healing gelatin, healthy fat, and coconut in this decadent, but not-too-sweet pie.
Southern Coconut Cream Pie
*Because pie crust is a very personal decision, and everyone has their favorite, feel free to choose your own. Almond flour, coconut flour, sprouted or sourdough whole grain — take your pick. I made a pie crust similar to this one. Just don’t make a graham cracker-type crust — its sweetness will overpower the rest of the pie. A basic pastry-style crust is all you need.
Southern Coconut Cream Pie
Enjoy the benefits of pastured egg yolks, gut-healing gelatin, healthy fat, and coconut in this decadent, but not-too-sweet coconut cream pie. Makes 1 9-inch pie.
For the coconut pudding filling:
- 1 tablespoon grass-fed beef gelatin
- 1/2 cup filtered water
- 4 pastured egg yolks
- 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon raw honey
- 2 1/2 cups full fat coconut milk
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 to 2 tablespoons arrowroot powder, optional
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons grass-fed butter or ghee or coconut oil
- 1 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
For the meringue:
To make the coconut pudding filling:
- Sprinkle beef gelatin over the water and set aside to bloom.
- In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and honey.
- Set aside.
- Then heat coconut milk in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until bubbles begin to break the surface of the milk. Do not boil.
- Temper the egg yolks and honey by slowly whisking half of the heated coconut milk into the bowl.
- Then pour the contents of the bowl back into the saucepan and return to the stove on medium heat.
- Add the salt.
- Whisk constantly until the mixture begins to thicken (5 to 7 minutes).
- If you desire the pudding to be thicker, whisk in arrowroot powder 1 tablespoon at a time, not exceeding 2 tablespoons.
- Then, when the pudding coats the back of a spoon, add the vanilla, butter or ghee, and bloomed gelatin + water and whisk vigorously for a couple of minutes to make sure the gelatin is completely dissolved.
- Pour the pudding into a medium-size bowl through a fine mesh sieve.
- Chill 30 minutes.
- Fold in 1 cup shredded coconut and pour the pudding into the prepared pie crust*.
- Finally, chill 4 to 6 hours, until the pudding has set.
To make the meringue:
- Turn on your oven’s broiler.
- Then place egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl and beat on high until soft peaks form.
- Meanwhile, bring the honey to a boil.
- Slowly drizzle the boiled honey into the egg whites while the mixer is running on high speed.
- Then beat until stiff peaks form.
- Spread the meringue over the chilled pie, sealing it around the edges of the crust.
- Top the meringue with the lightly toasted coconut.
- Place into the oven to brown the meringue slightly.
- Watch it carefully, as it will go from perfect to burnt in seconds.
- Finally, remove from the oven and serve immediately or return back to the fridge until ready to serve.
You’ll be happy to know that my husband thoroughly enjoyed his birthday pie. He even gave me the compliment of saying it was an 8.5 on a scale of 1 to 10 — with Tina’s pie being a perfect 10, of course. I was pretty pleased with that review.
Oh, and this girl now loves coconut cream pie — at least THIS pie! 😉
My husband and I hope you enjoy this healthier take on a classic Southern dessert.
Do you like coconut cream pie? Have you ever had to create a recipe to mimic an old favorite in a healthier way?
This post was featured in 51 Cold Summer Desserts and 92 Nourishing Grill & Barbecue Dishes, Drinks, & Desserts.
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