My husband turned 39 yesterday, so we made him a pie. My daughter had some thoughts about what kind of pie we should make. The conversation went like this:
Gem: I want to make Daddy a cherry pie for his birthday Me: I just bought ingredients for coconut cream pie, because it’s his favorite Gem: I think Daddy wants cherry Me: Did you ask him? Gem: Daddy, do you want a surprise?
Such is my life. For the record, we ended up making the pie I planned on, and she got away with being cute. It’s a kind of win-win. And, she was a great help in the kitchen.
The Dahlia Lounge has the best coconut cream pie in Seattle. Maybe anywhere. Aaron and I are big fans.
I was so thrilled to find that Tom Douglas and his team published the recipe for their Dahlia Triple Coconut Cream Pie in the Dahlia Bakery Cookbook: Sweetness in Seattle. This cookbook is a great teaching cookbook. It’s more than just recipes, and it covers the how and why of techniques, so you really learn how to cook rather than just how to follow directions.
That was the pie I made for Aaron’s birthday. And it was amazing.
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup ice-cold water (more as needed)
Coconut Custard Cream
1 cup milk
1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk (stir before measuring)
2 cups shredded sweetened coconut
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
2 large eggs
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Whipped Cream Topping
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
chunk of white chocolate
1 1/2 cups unsweetened chip or large shred coconut (or 2/3 cup shredded sweetened coconut)
Coconut Pie Crust
Make sure the butter is very cold.
Combine all ingredients except the water, and pulse in a food processor until it forms coarse crumbs.
Intermittently pulse and add a tablespoon of the cold water until a pinch of the dough holds together when pressed between your finger and thumb.
Turn the dough out onto plastic wrap on the counter. Use the wrap to pull the dough into a disc.
Chill for an hour before proceeding.
Unwrap and turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board.
Roll the dough to a 1/8″ thick circle, checking underneath occasionally to make sure it does not stick to the board.
Place dough in a 9-inch pie pan, and trim, allowing about an inch to hang over the edge of the pan.
Turn the edge under, and pinch edge all the way around with fingers to finish.
Chill the pastry for an hour before baking.
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Place some parchment paper in the pie shell and fill with dried beans to prevent the shell from puffing up during baking.
Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, then remove the pan from the oven and use the paper to lift out the beans.
Return the shell to the oven to bake another 10 minutes.
Cool the shell completely before filling with the coconut custard cream.
Coconut Custard Cream
Cook the Custard
Combine the milk, coconut milk, and shredded coconut in a medium sauce pan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add the bean and scrapings to the pan. Stir occasionally over medium-high heat, until the mixture gets ready to boil.
Put the eggs, sugar, and flour in a blow and mix them together well.
To keep the egg mixture from curdling in the hot milk, temper them by adding a third cup of the hot milk mixture to the egg mixture. Blend well. Then add the eggs to the hot milk mixture.
Keep the heat medium-high, and continue whisking the mixture for several minutes until it becomes very thick. The mixture should be bubbling a bit through this process.
Stir in the butter until it is melted and well combined. Remove the vanilla bean.
Cool the Custard
Fill a large bowl half way with ice and water. Pour the custard into another bowl, and place that bowl in the bowl with ice water. Keep stirring the custard until it cools.
Cover the custard with plastic wrap. Place the wrap directly on the custard to keep a skin from developing.
Whipped Cream Topping
Whip the heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla together until peaks hold their shape.
Spread the coconut chips on a baking sheet and lightly toast them at 350°F for 5 to 7 minutes.
A little toasting adds a lovely toasty flavor to the coconut. This is a little too much of a good thing:
Not that I would ever burn coconut. Nope. Not me.
This is a little more like what you’re looking for:
Put it all together
Make sure the pie crust is completely cool.
Make sure the custard is completely cool.
Pour the custard into the pie crust, and even out the top.
Cover the custard with the whipped cream. This can be spread on, or for a prettier finish, piped on with a pastry bag and a star tip.
Garnish with the toasted coconut chips and then use a vegetable peeler to top off the pie with curls of white chocolate.
recipe is from the Dahlia Bakery Cookbook: Sweetness in Seattle by Tom Douglas.
It’s been said that there are few pictures of me where I’m not hiding behind a camera.
That might be true. But, since it’s my birthday, and I’m in a celebratory mood, I thought I’d just prove that there are a few pictures of me sans camera.
Also, since I was going through old photos, I got sucked into a vortex of Gem’s old baby photos. Seriously, people, I have the coolest kid. (This still counts as a picture of me, check out the reflection in her glasses.)
Motherhood can pack a walloping dose of guilt at times, especially when your 4-year-old’s birthday lands at a particularly inconvenient moment with regards to time, money, health, energy, or even a working phone. This sense of guilt can then be further intensified when she patiently and politely reminds you 2 months later that you promised her a birthday party with cake and presents and friends.
So I had to come up with something fast, and just Mommy and Daddy around the dinner table with a cupcake wasn’t going to cut it. There had to be a party. And there had to be kids.
So now what?
Then my cousin, Amanda, came up with the most brilliant idea ever: her daughter’s school was having a spring carnival – we could meet up there, and then have cake and presents after.
So Gem and I baked brownies for her cake, and then we bought a bunch of frosting and decorations, and we put the girls to work decorating her birthday cake. This was a job they took very seriously.
Doesn’t that just look delicious?
Yes, of course the grownups all politely made yummy faces as we each dutifully ate a piece. 🙂
And then there was the carnival.
There was a climbing wall: That’s my baby, waaaaaaaaay up there.
And pony rides!
A hug for the pony.
Face painting, temporary tattoos, and her bestest friend.
She got her big day, and she didn’t need to know this entire carnival was not just for her birthday. Let’s keep that between us, ok? 😉
I spent the night in the ER last week. I wasn’t a big deal, just a recurring issue that’s a side-effect of a side-effect of my cancer treatment. It’s starting to feel a little routine.
This time it was a little different, though.
For one thing, the hospital was over-full. This hospital that I usually rave about, got less than high marks from me this time. When I was finally admitted, they put me in the over-flow of the patient over-flow area: pre-op. That was all fine and dandy from 2am when I finally got the room, till 5am when the surgical patients started showing up. Then the constant noise, the fact that the kitchen could never seem to find me to deliver my meals, the lack of a phone (and my cell phone died), the lack of a tv, and the persistent sound of various people vomiting started to get to me. A little. Maybe a lot. But, I was checked out by that evening, so I didn’t have to deal with it for more than a day. And I’m just fine now.
But, I diverted my attention by focusing on something else. It was four years to the day from the night my daughter was born. I went in to the ER just about the same time I arrived at this same hospital four years earlier. With no tv, and plenty of chaos to try to block out of my awareness, I passed the time remembering my daughter’s birth. What an amazing experience. And, I was released from the hospital in time to give my newly-minted 4-year-old a big hug on her birthday.
I’ve spent the rest of the week reminiscing about the past four years with my little girl, and I came across this picture of her baby shark costume from her first Halloween.
Hmmm… maybe this sheds a little light on her current shark obsession. 🙂
You can learn more about my cancer story here:
I posted on Facebook that Gem wants to be a dinosaur ballerina when she grows up, and our my cousins responded with shock. The shock, it turns out, was appropriate. Unbeknownst to us, they were in the midst of planning a dinosaur ballerina birthday party for their soon-to-be 3-year-old. Their little girl is even more crazy about dinosaurs than Gem, and knows ALL the dinosaurs.
This should be cute, I thought.
I had no idea.
When we arrived at the birthday party, Gem was helped into a dinosaur tail and tutu.
My happy little girl was giddy. Dinosaur Ballerina!
The birthday girl’s grandma handmade dinosaur tails for all the kids, and coordinating tutus for the girls.
The weight of the tail dragging behind them cause the kids, especially the littlest ones, to exaggerate their waddle as they walked.
The lawn covered with littles followed by their tails.
A back yard dinosaur dig
Dinosaur ballerinas discussing books and their favorite dinosaurs
Even the birthday girl’s daddy had a tail.
Happy birthday, Isabella. Here’s to many, many more.
Wouldn’t you like to be a dinosaur ballerina, too?