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
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 sustainably-sourced gelatin (certified glyphosate-free)
- 1/2 cup pure water
- 4 organic or pastured egg yolks
- 1/2 cup raw honey +additional amount listed in next item
- 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:
- 3 tablespoons raw honey
- 4 organic or pastured egg whites room temperature
- 1 pinch sea salt
- 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut lightly toasted in a dry cast iron skillet
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.
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.
- *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.
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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This looks wonderful! I am gluten-free and would love to try this recipe, but am also allergic to gelatin. (I know- no fun!) Is there another way to thicken the filling or make this without the gelatin?
Lindsey Dietz says
Anna, you could try making the filling without the gelatin and see how it does. Your filling may be a little runnier once the pie is cut, but the gelatin doesn’t affect the taste at all. Let me know how this works!
Perhaps try arrowroot powder to thicken it.
You can go to an Asian market and find agar agar. It comes in its full form (a dried seaweed) or you can buy it as a powder. This works like a gelatin and can also be reconstituted by reheating. Play around with it because a little goes a long way. It also continues to hold its gelatinous form at room temperature.
nasree johnson says
like to know if i can make coconut cream pie without the eggs.as i am elergic to eggs.
Lindsey Dietz says
I don’t know of a substitute for the eggs in this recipe. They make up the bulk of the pie, and I can’t think of anything that would taste and look like actual pie. So sorry!
Lani K. Tucker says
Would coconut cream whipped up work?
Lindsey Dietz says
As the topping? Instead of meringue? If that’s your question, then yes. It would simply be a whipped coconut cream topping, not a baked meringue topping. Hope that helps!
I have been searching for a clean and nourishing version of my families favorite (coconut cream pie) too!!! When I saw this link in Wardee’s email I was thrilled! I am curious to know if it would work with raw milk in place of the coconut milk. Or possibly raw cream? The only additive free coconut milk I can find is really strong tasting and I don’t care for it. I fear just using raw milk might not add enough thickness since canned coconut milk is so rich. Thoughts? Thank you for this post at just the time I was looking!!!
Lindsey Dietz says
Shelly, you can use any milk of your choice! Raw milk should work just fine. You might replace the 1/2 cup with some heavy cream for added thickness? Please let me know what you end up trying!
Barbara S says
My entire life I have thought that pie crust was over rated. I love the concept of the filling. I’m all about crustless. I’ll just go for the filling! 🙂
My mom had a lifelong friend that she met in the airforce during WWII. Elsie was a cook and made the best coconut cream pie. No restaurant pie has ever lived up to Elsie’s. Looking forward to making this pie and sharing with my daughter’s family. Her husband and two sons are pie enthusiasts and choose pie over cake for their birthdays.
nasree johnson says
in the recipe it says cook thill thick at back of spoon how long should it cook for appr.
Rebecca L says
Is there a way too replace the butter or ghee in this recipe to make it dairy free?
Rebecca L says
Would coconut butter work?
Katie Jacobsen says
For the coconut milk in the custard did you just use the hardened top or did you also use the water contents?
Best coconut pie ever! Not too sweet. Thank you for sharing!!!!