January 21, 2008
Maybe I'm the only one that finds it hard to do Christmas shopping for my dad. I decided to give him an IOU for "Many Pies." The first edition, tonight, was Coconut Meringue.
First step, the crust. I used a regular pie dough recipe but rolled the dough in graham cracker crumbs. The graham cracker crumbs are supposed to add flavor and stabilization to pie crusts for custard pies. Custard fillings tend to make a pie crust soggy. This crust turned out fair. I didn't do a great job rolling it. It wasn't as even and flat as I'd have liked going into the pie pan.
Next step, coconut custard filling. This one had a can of coconut milk, whole milk, unsweetened shredded coconut, sugar, egg yolks, butter, vanilla, and salt. Pretty simple to whip up. The first time I made this pie, I couldn't find unsweetened shredded coconut (so I used regular Baker's sweetened). They stock it at Market Street United on 98th & Quaker. I remember when the store first opened, I noticed the unsweetened coconut on the baking aisle. I remembered this recipe and excitedly snatched it up. Most people don't get giddy about grocery shopping as I do. It's especially silly when I go grocery shopping out of town, spot some intriguing item, and say, "How cool is this! You could never find this in Lubbock!" Then I usually see said item at Market Street upon returning home.
Third step, meringue. There are three types of meringue: French, Swiss, and Italian. French (ordinary) meringue is made by beating egg whites and slowly adding sugar. It is baked or folded into batters and baked. Swiss meringue is made by beating egg whites and sugar in a pan sitting above boiling water. The heat stabilizes the whites and makes them smoother and denser than French meringue. Italian meringue is made by pouring 240º sugar syrup into whipped egg whites, then whipping the whites until they are fluffy, yet stiff. Italian meringues are used as frostings, because they are fully cooked and stable.
I went with the Italian meringue variety. Since the coconut filling was already cooked and chilled, I didn't want to put the pie back in the oven for an extended period of time to cook the meringue. I found a recipe for "Mile High Meringue" and went with it. Dad rightly noted using that much meringue would be more appropriate with a tart lemon pie, instead of the already very sweet coconut pie.
Scott said he wanted many pies next year, too. "And that's many pies, not mini- pies." He keeps reminding me about that cheesecake I promised him a couple of weeks ago. Now that school has started, I'll do anything to avoid homework, especially going on a baking marathon. What pie should I make next?