Coconut Cream Pie
Happy Pi(e) Day! To be honest, I am not sure why I celebrate this day. I hate math. Like truly hate. Mostly because I am terrible at it. Seriously, I still count on my fingers. It's that bad. When my kids bring home any math homework, I instantly panic. Mind you, they are only in first and third grade, so seriously, how hard can their math be? Doesn't matter, my daughter can always come up with an answer before me. Talk about embarrassing. Therefore, I always point them in the direction of my husband for any number related questions. "It's your father's turn to help with homework tonight!" (Insert eye roll). I always watch with awe while he does sums in his head on a regular basis. Especially when he's building something for the boat or for the house. Yeah, so I am horrible at math, and dislike it a lot, a lot. But, I don't dislike any holiday that I can bake for. On the contrary, I love any excuse to cook something, hence this pie.
I have had this pie bookmarked for some time, but generally overlook it when I am looking for a dessert to make. This is the time of the year I typically stick to cookies and bars, something transportable for the kids to pack in their lunches. The summer and the holidays are when I primarily think of actually making a pie. Because who doesn't love fresh fruit in a pie? I know I do. So, when I realized that March 14th was here, I decided this was a good time to make this particular pie. I begrudgingly put my big cake plans aside for the day. But, it was well worth setting those plans aside once I tried the pie. (I try not to have too many desserts kicking around the house all at the same time.) My birthday is at the end of the month, and I have been doing some big cake planning, and so far I've come up with three ideas... But that's another story for another day.
Back to this pie. It really is something else. I say that with no other comparison of coconut cream pie. But I don't think I want to try another kind now that I've had this version! I love that it doesn't have any refined sugar in it. All sweetened from natural sources. Insert dates- nature's candy. And maple syrup! Speaking of maple syrup, we've been tapping our two maple trees on our property just for kicks. We used to do it before we moved with around 5-10 trees on our previous property. It's so much fun and so satisfying. This year we have gotten some syrup, but these darn big snowstorms put a hurting on the sap flow. There I go on a tangent again!
This pie is super creamy and coconutty. And it's really simple to make. Plus, it's no bake. Win! The crust is a simple purée of raw cashews, fresh dates, coconut oil and maple syrup. I don't think I've seen a healthier crust! The filling is made with coconut milk with the cream separated, maple syrup again, a vanilla bean for those beautiful speckles and a little cornstarch as a thickener. Let the whole pie chill all day or overnight, and you have a beautiful, healthy, and creamy dessert. Just try to resist more than one slice. Seriously. Gluten free, dairy free, sugar free and vegan. I don't know what to do with myself! I think the pie is perfect on its own, but if you want something a little extra, serve it with toasted, unsweetened shredded coconut, freshly whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Honestly though, I don't think you will need them. Happy Pi Day to those math fanatics that can actually do math and like it!
Coconut Cream Pie
Yield: about 8 servings
For the crust
scant 2 cups raw, unsalted cashews
5 Medjool dates, pits removed and roughly chopped
3 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted
3 Tablespoons maple syrup
For the filling
2 cans (13.66 Fluid oz.) unsweetened coconut milk, chilled for 30-60 minutes
4 Tablespoons maple syrup
1 small vanilla bean
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
Place all the ingredients for the crust in the bowl of a food processor. Purée until mostly smooth, with a few remaining chunks. Using damp hands, press the mixture into a 7-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Place in the refrigerator while you make the filling.
To make the filling, Open the cans of the coconut milk upside down. Pour out the coconut "water" into a measuring cup. Scoop the cream left in the can into the canister of a blender, along with the maple syrup, seeds scraped from the vanilla bean, and salt.
Measure out 1/2 cup of the coconut water, discarding or saving the remaining coconut water for personal use. Pour the 1/2 cup coconut water into a small saucepan. Whisk in the cornstarch and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Whisk until thickened. Pour the thickened coconut water into the blender with the coconut cream mixture, and blend until completely smooth. Pour the mixture into the chilled crust. Place in the refrigerator until set and firm, 5-6 hours, or overnight.
Source: Slightly adapted from Unconventional Baker