Back in the late 1800s Europeans and Americans were enjoying imported tropical fruit like pineapples and bananas, but the coconut hadn’t yet taken off. This was mostly because they were hard to transport without spoiling, and because people didn’t know what to do with them once they had them in their kitchens. Everything started to change when a French company based in Ceylon started shredding coconut meat and drying it for easier shipping, thereby making coconut accessible to European chefs and home cooks.
After gaining popularity in Europe, coconut took the United States by storm when a Philadelphia flour miller received a shipment of coconuts as payment of a debt from a Cuban businessman. In 1895 he set up a factory for shredding and drying his coconut meat and singlehandedly put coconut into the hands of American homemakers and commercial bakers etc
Recipes for coconut cream pie started showing up in cookbooks almost immediately, and by the turn of the century coconut cream pie was everywhere.
So here now is our version:
Coconut Cream Pie Recipe
- 1 Grahame Cracker pie crust, uncooked
- 3 eggs
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- A little salt
- 1 12-ounce can evaporated milk
- 1/2 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 cup flaked coconut
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
- 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened coconut chips
- Have Pie Crust ready and baked
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Separate egg yolks from whites; set whites aside for meringue. For filling, in a medium saucepan combine 1/3 cup of the sugar, 3 tablespoons cornstarch, and salt. Stir in evaporated milk and coconut milk. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat.
- In a bowl, beat egg yolks slightly. Gradually stir about 1 cup of the hot milk mixture into the beaten egg yolks, stirring constantly. Return all of the mixture to saucepan. Cook and stir until bubbly. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat. Stir in butter. Stir in the 1/2 cup coconut, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and coconut extract. Keep filling warm; prepare meringue.
- For meringue topping, in a medium mixing bowl beat egg whites, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and cream of tartar on medium speed of an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 1/3 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form.
- Pour warm filling into baked pastry shell. Spread meringue evenly over filling; seal to pastry edge. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon flaked coconut. Bake in a 350°F oven for 15 minutes.
- Cool on a wire rack for 1 hour. Chill well before serving