The Best Coconut Cream Pie Ever….no really….

My wife is a huge coconut fan, so I gave her a choice of whether she wanted a coconut cake or a coconut cream pie. She decided on coconut cream pie. So this week I’m going to share my recipe for super coconutty coconut cream pie. My goal with the pie is to infuse rich coconut flavor in each layer of the pie. With that said, I use my graham cracker coconut crust recipe as the base. You can  find the recipe here. Next comes the filling which is a rich coconut custard, that’s not only flavored with vanilla but also coconut extract and toasted shredded coconut. And finally, I make a vanilla and coconut flavored whipped cream and finish the whole thing off with toasted coconut chips. Here’s the recipe:

Coconut Cream Pie Filling

1 prepared graham cracker crust

1 13.5 oz can coconut milk

1 12 oz can evaporated milk

4 large egg yolks

¼ cup corn starch

½ cup granulated sugar

1 cup toasted unsweetened shredded coconut (plus extra for garnish)

1 tsp vanilla extract

½ tsp coconut extract

pinch of salt

In a large bowl, thoroughly combine eggs, salt, corn starch and sugar with ¼ cup of the milk and set aside. Heat the coconut milk and evaporated milk in a heavy bottomed pot until it comes to a slow bowl and turn the heat down to medium low. Slowly drizzle 1 cup of the heated milk mixture into the egg and starch mixture while continuously stirring with a wire wihisk. Now add the egg and starch mixture into the pot and stir until it thickens into a pudding like consistency. Add in 1 cup of the toasted shredded coconut. Fill the pie shell with the custard and chill for at least 4 hours before serving. Finish with sweetened whipped cream and garnish with toasted coconut chips.

 

Enljoy

Apple and Pear Tart with Brûléed Top

Apple and Pear Tart with Bruleed top and a scoop of French Vanilla Ice Cream

This weeks recipe is quick and easy and uses store bought puff pastry and fall fruits. In this instance pears and apples since we had quit a few of then delivered with our produce order this week.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of peeled and sliced apples and pears
  • 1/2 stick of melted butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon each ground ginger, ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, ground allspice
  • pinch of salt
  • caster or sanding sugar for bruleeing
  • 2 thawed puff pastry sheets

Preheat oven to 425F. In a medium bowl melt butter and add spices and brown sugar. Peel and slice fruit and add to the butter sugar mixture.

Apples and pears tossed with melted butter, brown sugar and spices

Toss the fruit with the butter and sugar then pour into a glass baking dish.

fruit in baking dish waiting to go into the oven

Bake in a 425F oven for 10-15 minutes until fruit softens and starts to caramelize.

While the fruits baking. spread thawed puff pastry onto a floured surface and cut into squares or circles. Make a shallow incision about 1/2 inch from the edge all the way around the puff pastry. This will score it. Dock the center of the dough several times with a fork, which will prevent the interior portion of the dough from puffing up too much and will allow it to easily form a cup once the dough is baked for 10 minutes.   Place the puff pastry shells onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Remove the apples from the oven and let cool while the puff pastry bakes for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes push the centers of the puff pastry down. This should be easy to do where it was scored. Fill the shells with a layer of fruit and sprinkle with a little salt and return to the over for another 5-7 minutes.

layer of fruit lining puff pastry shells

Remove the shell from the oven and let cool. When ready to serve, add sanding or caster sugar to the top and heat with a kitchen torch to for a burnt sugar crust on top.

Coconut Matcha Ice Cream

Coconut Matcha Ice Cream with fresh plums and blueberries

Its been fairly hot and humid (I know that’s relative) the past few days here in Southern California. So there’s been a lot of ice cream making going on. This time around I made Coconut Matcha Ice Cream and played with combining matcha and another one of my favorite flavors, ube. This is pretty straight forward, I used 1 can of full fat coconut milk, ¼ cup sweetened condensed milk, a teaspoon of vanilla extract for the base and added 2 heaping tablespoons of finely ground matcha powder. I whisked it all together until the matcha powder was incorporated and most of the larger clumps had been worked out. Then I chilled the base for a couple of hours before I churned in the machine for 25 minutes. Yield 1 pt/16oz of ice cream

Now for me the real fun came with different ideas for how to serve the ice cream. So I decided to make ice cream sandwiches. I’ve been on an ube (a vibrantly purple Filipino sweet potato that’s all the rage in these parts) kick for a while. So I hit up my local Red Ribbon (a Filipino bakery chain) and picked up some ube mamon, which is a Chinese style sponge cake. I sliced the ube mamon in half, then I formed 2 scoops of the coconut matcha ice cream into a disk and coated the sides with crushed Froot Loops and coated the sides of the ice cream disk and placed the disk onto the one of the slices of ube mamon and then topped that with the other slice. This is what the final one looked like (there were a few fails which are up on my Instagram)

Spongy ube mamon from Red Ribbon Bakeshop is paired with coconut matcha ice cream that’s been coated with crushed Froot Loops.

Stay tuned, figs are coming into season and our trees have tons of fruit….

Ube love

 

Ube Ice Cream with Mango Coulis and garnished with Fruity Pebbles cereal, whipped cream and lychee, mango and coconut flavored jellies.

What the heck is ube? Well, ube is an extremely bright purple sweet potato that’s widely used in Filipino cuisine, it’s an extremely popular flavor for desserts. It’s often confused for taro but they are in fact entirely different. I love it, not only for its sweet taste, but also the intense vibrancy of the color makes for really colorful and striking photos. Today was National Ice Cream Day (I’m not sure who got to decide that) in the States. To celebrate, I made Ube Ice cream (I also made Coconut Matcha Ice cream which I’ll post another time). Here’s the recipe:

Ube Ice Cream

4 cups heavy whipping cream

1 cup ube jam such as ube halaya

½ cup sweetened condensed milk

1 tsp ube extract*

Whisk all the ingredients together until they ube jam and sweetened condensed milk are thoroughly incorporated then chill the mixture for at least 2 hours. Churn in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturers directions. Then place ice cream into freezer safe container and freeze. I usually try to let this freeze over night. Then serve.

 

*Ube extract is both ube flavoring as well as food coloring. I get mine from my local Filipino grocery store (shout out to Island Pacific in Bixby Knolls). You can order it online through Amazon.

Here’s a bonus video showing what happens to the ice cream base when I add the ube extract.

Easy dessert options

Here is curd used to add a sour element to cut the richness of marscapone cream.

I’m frequently asked to bring dessert when we attend gatherings. When I don’t have time to prepare something fancy or extravagant, I make citrus curd because they’re easy, don’t require special equipment and only have 5 ingredients that I usually have around the house. You can swap out different types of citrus to change the flavor. Here’s the recipe for basic Lemon Curd. I especially like to use Meyer Lemons or Kalamansi which is a small citrus fruit similar to a kumquat.

Here’s the traditional application for lemon curd as a pairing with scones.

Recipe

3 LG Eggs
1 TBS of Lemon Zest
1/3 Cup Fresh Lemon Juice
3/4 Cup sugar
4 TBS room temp butter cut into small cubes

In a heat resistant bowl over the simmering water whisk the eggs, lemon juice and sugar until it thickens. Takes about 10 to 12 minutes. You do need to whisk constantly to prevent the eggs from curdling. Once it thickens. Remove it from the heat and run through a strainer, add in the lemon zest and then slowly stir in the butter. Thoroughly incorporate the butter before each addition. Once all the butter is incorporated cover directly with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming and chill. It can be chilled for up to 5 days.

For me the real fun is finding interesting ways to dress up a simple curd.

The lemon curd is cut with whipped cream to make a creamy and sour filling for eclairs.

And finally, the most simple application. Lemon Curd paired with store bought pound cake and fresh seasonal fruit.

Seasonal fruit and store bought pound cake make for an easy dessert.

Give this recipe a try and let me know how you liked it.

Passion Fruit (aka Lilikoi) Chiffon Pie

Lilikoi Chiffon Pie served with sweetened whipped cream and seasonal fruit

Individual Lilikoi Chiffon Pie served with sweetened whipped cream and seasonal fruit

I was wandering around a local grocery store a few days ago and found fresh passion fruit. My Aunty Ivy made an amazing Lilikoi Chiffon Pie, though I often wonder how she had time to be such a great cook and baker. She was a world class swimmer, she was a lifelong volunteer for Hawaii’s Special Olympics program, a teacher and just an all around good egg. You can read more about my Aunty Ivy here. On a trip back to the Mainland a few years ago, she sent Kim and I home with an entire pie and it served as breakfast on our 10 hour flight back to NJ from HI. Sadly, my Aunty lost her lengthy battle with cancer last year and I don’t have her recipe. I’m pretty sure at one point her recipe was published but I was not able to track it down for this post. With that said, here’s my version of Lilikoi Chiffon Pie.

To start the pie you will need to have a prepared pie crust. I opted for a Graham Cracker Coconut crust. You can make this in a standard 9″ pie plate. You’ll need 1 ½ cups of graham cracker crumbs, 1 stick of butter, ¼ cup of sugar, dash of salt and ¼ cup of finely shredded toasted coconut. In a large bowl combine, sugar, coconut, salt and graham cracker crumbs. Melt the stick of butter and let cool. Add the cooled butter to the crumb mixture and blend together. Press the crumbs onto the bottom and side of the pie plate and bake the crust at 370 for 7 minutes or until the edges start to brown. Let the crust cool on a cooling rack then store in the fridge.

You can still make this recipe even if you do not have access to fresh lilikoi. Whole Foods carries a decent lilikoi juice made by Ceres and ethnic markets may carry frozen lilikoi pulp. I removed the pulp from 8 passion fruits and augmented that with 1 cup of the Ceres Juice, I simmered the mixture until it was reduced by ½. This took about 45 minutes. I blended the mixture down with a stick blender then strained it to remove the seeds and set it aside to cool. I intentionally made more juice than the pie requires because I’m going to make lilikoi curd for a later post.

I bloomed 1 packet of Knox gelatin in ¼ cup of passion fruit juice. You can use plain water or lemon juice as well. While the gelatin is blooming I cooked 4 egg yolks and ½ cup of sugar in a double boiler over water at a slow boil until it had thickened and the sugar was dissolved, this takes about 5-8 minutes. You will need to whisk this constantly so make sure you have every thing prepped before you start this step. Once the mixture thickened I pulled it from the heat and added the gelatin and whisked until the gelatin was thoroughly incorporated. Then I added ½ cup of lilikoi juice and 2TBS of lemon juice and let the mixture sit at room temperature to cool. Once the mixture cools, Whip 4 egg whites, to soft peaks slowly working in ¼ cup of sugar continue to whip to firm peaks. Fold ¼ of the egg whites into the lilikoi mixture until  the egg whites are fully incorporated. Keep adding egg whites and folding in until all the egg whites have been encorporated. Pour mixture into the prepared pie shell and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours before serving Finish pie with sweetened whip cream.

Ingredients
Crust

1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs

1 stick of melted and cooled unsalted butter

¼ cup toasted and shredded coconut

¼ cup sugar

dash of salt

Chiffon pie filling

4 whole eggs separated with the whites and yolks retained

½ cup sugar

1 packet of unflavored gelatin

¼ cup liquid to bloom gelatin

½ cup lilikoi pulp/nectar/juice

Whip Cream

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1/4 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

 

Pumpkin bread pudding with a twist…

I was talking with some collegues over the weekend while we were enjoying some pumpkin flavored donut holes, it occured to me that leftover donut holes would make an awesome bread pudding. Bread pudding is a really easy to make, particularly for folks that find baking and all its precise measuring and special equipment too much of a bother.

Another great thing about bread pudding is that you can flavor it with a variety of different spices depending on the season or your mood. If you want chocolate bread pudding, substitute some chocolate milk for some of the half & half, or add in chocolate syrup and chocolate chips.

There’s 2 parts to bread pudding, the bread and then the custard that binds it all together. Day old bread works best because it tends to absorb more of the custard than fresher bread. For a decadently rich custard I usually use evaporated milk, half & half, sweetened condensed milk as the sugar, and whole eggs. The donuts are quite rich on their own so I’m using evaporated milk only. The glaze on the donuts and the sweetness of the dough itself, will make the pudding plenty sweet. The sweetened condensed milk might be a bit much here. So I suggest using 1/4 cup of brown sugar instead.

Pumpkin Donut (Bread) Pudding…
serves 4 to 8
2 Dozen day old assorted glazed and pumpkin do(ugh)nut holes, timbits, munchkins
whichever they’re called in your geographic area, cut in half
1 12 oz. can evaporated milk or equivilent in 1/2 & 1/2
2 whole eggs
1/4 brown sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. each ground nutmeg, ground ginger and ground mace
1/2 cup pumpkin purée (preferably NOT pumpkin pie filling)

Preheat the oven to 350º F, rub the sides and bottom of a deep sided casserole dish with butter (this will make cleanup and serving a little bit easier) and set aside. Cut the donut holes in half, and place in the casserole dish. In a large mixing bowl, mix the eggs, brown sugar, spices, pumpkin purée, and evaporated milk until well incorporated. Pour the custard over the donut holes and let set until most of the custard has been absorbed into the donut holes.

Place the casserole dish into a roasting pan, make sure there’s at least an inch of space gap between the sides of the roasting pan and the casserole dish. Place the roasting pan on the top oven rack, then pour water into the roasting pan until it comes half way up the sides of the casserole. Bake in the oven for 60 minutes. Cover with aluminum foil if the top starts to brown too much.

CAUTION!!! Be very careful when moving the pan out of the oven. The water will literally be boiling hot. Make sure that pets and little people aren’t under foot.

If you cook the puddings in individual ramekins, you can cut the cooking time in half.

For a more traditional bread pudding
8 cups of cubed stale bread
4 whole eggs
1 12 oz. can of evaporated milk
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla
a dash of salt
2 cups of half & half

Mix the custard ingredients together and pour over the cubed bread. Allow the custard to soak into the bread and bake as directed above.