Saturday, May 22, 2010
While trying to decide what to make for a small get together I was having I ran across this recipe and I knew immediately that this would be what I was going to bake for dessert. There were two reasons for this, the first and most important being that over a year ago my husband and I got our hands on a magazine that showcased the best desserts in Seattle and this was in there. We tried many, and I mean many of the other restaurants, cupcake bakeries, and dessert shops, but we had yet to make it to the Dahlia Bakery to try the famous Triple Coconut Cream Pie. The second reason was that I was looking for something that I could serve in individual portions instead of one large dessert where half would be left when everyone was gone and I would be forced to eat it all by myself.
These mini pies really were the perfect size. The coconut pastry cream was so rich that having only a small portion of it really made it quite manageable. This was my first time purchasing an actual vanilla bean and now I know why I don't do it often. They are fairly expensive but I figured I'd splurge for this dessert. I did have a few issues with baking them but nothing that I wasn't able to work out. In the original recipe for the pastry crusts it was unclear to me whether to leave the chilled dough in the pan while baking or to move them to a cookie sheet. Well, let me just say that it is a good thing that I set the timer for only half the required baking time because when I opened my oven and saw them laying as flat as a pancake I realized my error. I was able to scoop them up with my spatula and then reform them into the muffin tin, stick them back in the oven, and they turned out fine. There was a momentary sense of panic at the time though! I also had no dried beans or pie weights so I just used parchment paper with rice poured on it so that the bottoms wouldn't puff up and it would hold it's general shape.
I found that one batch of the pastry crust made enough for nine small pies, but one batch of coconut pastry cream and one batch of the whipped cream actually made more than enough for the nine pies. I ended up making another half batch of pastry crust and using the leftover coconut cream and whipped cream to make 2 more 4-inch pies (that was after eating a few spoonfuls of the coconut pastry cream out of the bowl). Now all that's left to do is to head down to the Dahlia Bakery to compare pies. Enjoy!
Triple Coconut Cream Mini Pies
Coconut Pie Shells (can freeze unbaked, formed pastry shells for a few weeks)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2" cubes
3 to 5 tablespoons ice water
Mix together flour, coconut, sugar, and salt until combined. Add butter and blend in with pastry blender or two knives until butter forms little peas. Add water a tablespoon at a time, blending with a fork after each addition just until dough hold together.
Turn crumbs onto counter, form into a ball, and divide into 9 equal parts forming each into a small disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and chill at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.
Upwrap rounds; working with one disk at a time, set on a lightly floured surface, and roll dough into a 5-inch circle using short strokes from the center outward (about 1/8" thick). Transfer dough to brioche mold (or muffin pan), letting it fall into place (if you push or stretch the dough it will shrink back when baked). Trim overhang flush with edge (I didn't do this for the muffin pan). Prick bottom lightly with a fork. Repeat with the remaining rounds. Chill unbaked pie shells for 1 hour before baking.
Put an oven rack in the lowest position and preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lay a sheet of parchment paper in each pie shell and fill with dried beans or pie weights (I used rice). If using brioche mold, put shells on a cookie sheet; if using a muffin pan, leave shells in muffin cups. Bake until medium golden, about 10-12 minutes. Remove beans and parchment paper; return to the oven. Bake until bottoms of crusts have golden brown patches, about 10 minutes. (Mine were done after the first 10-12 minutes baking so I didn't need to remove the paper and rice and bake them longer.) Cool completely before filling.
Coconut Pastry Cream (can be made ahead and refrigerated up to two days)
2 cups milk
2 cups sweetened finely shredded coconut
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
2 large eggs
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Put milk and coconut in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean and add both seeds and bean to the saucepan. Bring mixture to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and flour. While whisking, drizzle about 1/3 of the hot milk mixture into egg mixture, then slowly whisk the egg mixture back into the saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking, until the pastry cream thickens and begins to bubble (about 4-5 minutes). Remove from heat, stir in butter, and discard vanilla bean.
Spoon hot pastry cream into a bowl and set in a larger bowl filled with ice and cold water, stirring occasionally, until cooled to room temperature. Remove bowl from ice water bath, cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto surface (to prevent a skin from forming) and chill until cold, at least 3 hours.
Whipping Cream and Garnishes
2 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 - 3oz. chunk of white chocolate
1 cup unsweetened "chip" coconut (found at natural food stores) or 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut,
toasted (toast coconut in a 350 degree oven until golden, about 5-10 minutes)
Assembling the pies:
Carefully remove pie shells from the brioche mold or muffin pan. Spoon chilled pastry cream into shells, filling each a little more than halfway (I went all the way to the top of the pastry crust).
With an electric mixer, whip the cream, sugar, and vanilla until it holds stiff peaks. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip (no. 6) with whipped cream and pipe a double layer of cream onto pies, or simply spoon it on. (The pies should look like little beehive hairdos.)
With a vegetable peeler, scrape wide curls or shavings from the chunk of white chocolate. Sprinkle curls or shavings over pies, dividing evenly, and top with toasted coconut. Serve immediately. (You can fill the pastry crust with the coconut pastry cream hours before and just add whipped cream and garnishes right before serving.)