Coconut cream pie is a staple on my family’s Christmas spread. This year, I wanted to make something a bit more interesting than the typical coconut cream pie offering. If you are from the Midwest, you’ve likely heard of the dessert called “Striped Delight” which combines layers of graham cracker filling, cream cheese, chocolate pudding and Cool Whip. It is very basic, easy to make and always popular with my brother in law, Drew.
Wanting to elevate this traditional pie to be the coconut cream dessert I had in my mind, I knew I needed a great cookie crumb base, and a cream cheese layer to offset some of the sweetness. Plus, of course: a coconut custard made from scratch. Topping the dessert off with a finishing touch of real, high quality sweetened whipped cream and chopped toasted coconut sealed the deal.
This dessert is now my #1 favorite, surpassing any chocolate cake, berry pie or cookie I’ve ever loved.
Let me tell you, investing the time to create your own custard from scratch, toasting the coconut and using real ingredients will bring your dessert game to an all time high.
And, the one item that has been on my daughter’s Christmas, birthday, Valentine’s, you-name-it list for almost 3 years has been obtained.
Yes it is an animal.
No, it is not a pony.
Yes it is a pig. With spots.
Due to have babies in January.
Expect to see an update on this lady when we go pick her up.
Name suggestions are welcome, but ultimately she’ll probably have a name after a school lunch menu item, basketball player or American Girl doll. Something normal, right?
Until we figure that out… let’s have dessert, mmmmkay?
Coconut Cream Pie Bars
By: Cristen www.foodandswine.com
Makes: 1 9×13 dessert
For the custard:
1 1/3 cup sugar
7 TBSP cornstarch
4 cups AE Dairy Whole Milk
6 egg yolks, beaten
2 tsp vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract
2 TBSP butter
1 pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups toasted coconut*
For the crust:
2 cups of vanilla wafer crumbs
1/4 cup toasted coconut*
1 stick salted butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
For the cream cheese layer:
2 eight ounce blocks of regular cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
3 TBSP AE Dairy Whole Milk
For the whipped cream topping:
1 1/2 cups AE Dairy Heavy Whipping Cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 TBSP sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup toasted coconut*
*To prepare the toasted coconut:
Bake regular sweetened flaked coconut at 350 F on a sheet tray until golden brown (7-10 mins). Do not leave unattended, coconut can burn rather quickly and become useless.
To prepare the custard:
In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch. Add milk gradually, stir until smooth. Cook over medium heat until thick. Temper egg yolks (bring them up to a warmer temperature) by adding some of the hot mixture to the egg yolks and mixing at the same time. Blend well and add egg yolks to hot mixture slowly, and off the heat. Cook until thickened (10 min-12 min simmering) and remove from heat.
Dip the back of a spoon in the mixture, draw a horizontal line in mixture over coated spoon. Mixture should not run together where you drew your finger across. Add vanilla, butter and salt. Add toasted coconut. Stir well. Let cool completely, 30 minutes. Chill until ready to assemble.
To prepare the crust:
Combine wafer crumbs, toasted coconut, melted butter and sugar until evenly mixed. Press into 9×13 pan. Chill while assembling remaining components of dessert.
To prepare the cream cheese layer:
Beat cream cheese, sugar and milk together until smooth. Set aside.
To prepare the whipped cream topping:
–Wait to do this step until immediately prior to assembling the dessert, otherwise whipped cream may deflate.
In a medium mixing bowl whip the cream, powdered sugar, sour cream and vanilla together until stiff peaks hold. Keep chilled.
On top of crumb crust, spread cream cheese mixture evenly. Spoon chilled coconut custard onto cream cheese layer. Chill for 30 minutes. Whip the cream mixture and spoon on top of dessert, spreading evenly. Chill for at least 1-2 hours to ‘set’ the dessert so you can cut into squares nicely. Top with additional toasted coconut for garnish.
If you can chill the dessert for 4 hours or even overnight, that’s better! Make this dessert ahead for great results and less to do on the big day!
Easy Way Out:
Swap the custard for 2 packages of prepared vanilla pudding, swap the real whipped cream for 2 containers of cool whip. It won’t be as amazing, but it will certainly be delicious no doubt.
Coconut hater? Try omitting the coconut from the recipe all together. Swap in 3 sliced bananas into the vanilla custard base instead. Garnish with vanilla wafer cookie crumbs.