I Dream in Coconut Cream

Have I ever mentioned that my ten year old son is odd? I mean, he has the usual quirks of kids his age – not wanting to take a bath regularly, forgetting to do his homework, wanting to stay out playing with his friends when he should be getting ready for bed – but there are some things that I just have to shake my head at. His undying devotion to Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley, for starters. Neither the husband nor myself listen to either of them with any regularity, but for some reason my son is completely obsessed with them – and the Millionaire Quartet in general. How many other kids can tell you who Carl Perkins was, or can rhyme off the names of the members of Johnny Cash’s band? Then there’s the World War II fixation, which has him lugging home books the size of small countries so he can find out more. I swear, he’s got the soul of a crusty octogenarian. He tells us to turn our music down.

Those things aside, he’s a pretty good kid. Except for his bizarre dislike for certain foods. Not olives or capers, which he gobbles down by the handful, but coconut. How can you hate something so tasty?! I, on the other hand, love coconut . All things coconut – coconut milk, coconut candy, coconut shrimp. It’s the flavour of my all-time favourite pie. But pie, as you may know, can be a hella lot of work. And sometimes, you just need a quick hit of that coconut cream pie flavour without all the hassle

That’s where these cupcakes come in.

I found the recipe on A Delightfully Sweet Life and knew it was the answer to my prayers. All the flavour of my favourite pie in the convenient form of a cupcake. And trust me – the flavour is there. The cake is light and sweet but not overpoweringly so – I would almost say that in a way I actually prefer it to the pie. But please don’t tell the pie that – don’t want any hurt feelings.

As good as the white chocolate frosting sounded, I wanted something a little more…tropical to accompany my cupcakes. So I did like the song says and put the lime in the coconut. However, there was no need to call a doctor – no bellyache came from this heavenly pairing. Just pure coconut perfection. I included the recipe for you so you can have the option too.

Coconut-Lime Frosting 

 1 1/2 cups icing sugar

1/4 cup unsalted butter 

1/4 cup coconut milk

1/4 lime, squeezed for juice 

1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp sweetened coconut flakes (more to garnish as desired)

up to 2 tbsp corn starch to thicken 

Stir ingredients together in large bowl until smooth, then frost cakes. Use additional coconut flakes to decorate.

A Tale of Two Pies

I love pie.

More than any other treat, even chocolates, there’s nothing like a good piece of pie to make a bad day suddenly better. And put a good day completely over the top. Basically, there’s never a bad time for pie. But what often holds me back is the labour-intensiveness of the pie-making process. It was always so much easier to head into Kensington Market and grab a slice at Wanda’s Pie in the Sky. However, now that’s not really an option. Wanda’s is a bit too much of a trek.

Hot on the heels of my galette-baking success, and at the urging of my husband’s cravings, I decided to try my hand at hand at two favourites yesterday afternoon. First, my husband’s pie of choice: Pecan

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I used my grandmother’s recipe from the beloved Women’s Institute cookbook, but with a couple of tweaks to try to make my own mark on it.

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I replaced the white sugar with dark brown sugar, which I tend to do with most recipes because I’m not a huge fan of white sugar. Too gritty, and nowhere near the same depth of flavour you get with the darker varieties. Also, I used a regular corn syrup instead of the light syrup the recipe called for. I wanted that super-gooey, dark dense filling that – to me, anyways – is the mark of a proper pecan pie. It worked well, if I do say so myself.

The next pie was a bit of a challenge for myself. And therefore, much more terrifying. In every diner I eat at, I well order a piece of it if I see it on the menu. To me, it’s perfection on a plate. I give you my favourite pie: Coconut Cream

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It was nerve-racking, to be sure. But I got through it in the end, thanks mainly to this excellent recipe here. The pie crust recipe, which happily yields two disks of lovely dough, is remarkably easy to make. And for the most part I kept to the recipe. But it wouldn’t be me to not put my own spin on it. For the custard filling, I swapped out two cups of whole milk for coconut milk, which gave me the distinctive coconut flavour I was hoping for. Next time, I might even substitute coconut milk for all three cups of milk. As for the whipped cream topping, I opted for 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract because the custard was quite rich on its own and I didn’t want anything to compete with that coconut flavour. That’s the basis on which I judge a good coconut cream – by how much actual coconut flavour is involved. Some pies that I’ve had in the past are too eggy or may as well be vanilla pie, save for the sprinkling of toasted coconut on top. Which brings me to my last substitution: I went for untoasted, unsweetened coconut overtop the whipped topping in place of the more traditional toasted. Aesthetically, I find it more pleasing. Like fluffy white clouds against a clear blue sky, or freshly fallen snow.

And now that I’m waxing all poetic about pie, I think that it’s time to wrap this up. Besides, I’m feeling so good about yesterday’s victory in the kitchen that I just might use the leftover egg whites to take another crack at my arch sweet-making nemesis: the Macaron.