make this now: coconut banana cream pie

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For years I was adamant in my fear and loathing of the BANANA CREAM PIE. I assumed it was a saccharine sweet custard lathered in Cool Whip. Retching was a prerequisite to eating said pie, and I’d often find myself scowling in disdain at the Magnolia Bakery version. It wasn’t until my colleague brought in a dish of banana custard and begged me to try a bite, that I fell rapturously in love with the cool, luscious mixture. A silky custard married with a crumbly cookie was perfection, and I swore that I would fix a pie come the weekend.

Yet, I’m still on a Southeast Asian dessert kick, where coconut is the reigning sweet star. From fragrant jasmine rice covered in sweet coconut cream to mangos and coconut cane sugar, I can’t but help to want to incorporate the COCONUT in everything. Coconut and nutella cookies? Consider that on the agenda for next week, kids. And I thought back to my successful banana coconut loaf and realized that nothing could go wrong with this union. Inspired by Amanda of Slow Like Honey’s delicious banana cream tart, I took the easy route and snagged a pre-made pie crust and got to work.

And the result? DREAMY. Tufts of cream, oozing custard, sweet coconut and a crispy, crumbly pie crust — the flavor play was astounding. I’m seriously considering a second helping as I type this.

If you make anything this spring, MAKE THIS!

INGREDIENTS: Inspired by Slow Like Honey, with modifications
1 pre-made organic pie crust

For the Filling
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cane sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
3 cups 2% milk
3 large egg yolks
3 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 tsp coconut extract/flavor

For the Topping
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
3 medium ripe bananas

DIRECTIONS
Prepare the crust for cream pies (poke with a fork and bake at 400F for 10 minutes), and let cool as directed. Typically, I allow my crusts to cool in the refrigerator because I’m a tad impatient. Once the crust has cooled, dice up on banana into quarters and place on the bottom of the crust.

In a medium-large saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt, whisking in the milk and egg yolks. On medium heat, cook the mixture, stirring constantly for 6-8 minutes. This stirring business is akin to fixing risotto — you have to linger until the custard thickens and coats a wooden spoon. Once thickened, remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla and butter, one piece at a time.

Pour the filling into chilled pie shell, smoothing the top. Gently press a piece of plastic wrap against the filling to help keep a skin from forming. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 5 hours or overnight.

To be candid this bit is agonizing. Often you’ll find me sneaking into the kitchen and poking at the custard, wondering if it’s set, hoping I can spread a luscious layer of whipped cream. So after four hours I broke down and hit the stand mixer. Using a chilled medium-size bowl and chilled beaters, beat the heavy cream with an electric mixer until it won’t quite hold soft peaks. Add the confectioner’s sugar and continue to beat until it is stiff but not grainy. Smear a thin layer of the topping over the filling, using no more than half of it. Then add the coconut, ensuring that it coats the entire pie. Cut up the bananas into quarters and spread as a layer over the filling. And pour the remaining cream over the pie and sprinkle with a bit more coconut.

Refrigerate until ready to serve, preferably not longer than an hour.

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