Toasted Almond Coconut Custard Pie

So when was the last time you made a custard pie? Last month? Couple of years ago? Never? 

Courtesy Ken Haedrich dean of The Pie Academy

I get it. Custard pie is not a headline grabber or Instagram starlet, the way some pies are. It’s not a showcase for shimmering, jewel-like fruit. And nobody tops a custard pie with an eye-catching pie crust rendering of the Sistine Chapel. 

Which is precisely the point of custard pie’s appeal: it’s a low maintenance, high return choice of a pie when winter sets in and your pie options narrow.  In short, there’s no better time than now to make a custard pie.

Courtesy Ken Haedrich, dean of The Pie Academy

I’ve got just the one: Toasted Almond Coconut Custard Pie. I’ve been on a tear of custard pie testing for my upcoming book, so trust me when I tell you that this is no run-of-the-mill custard pie. The filling is thick and rich, in the manner of the best custard pies, and it has the most delicious coconut almond topping you’ve ever tasted.

It reminds me of the coating on those toasted almond ice cream bars we used to get for a dime from the Good Humor truck centuries ago, only better. The chopped toasted almonds and coconut just float to the top of the filling and form a crunchy crust as the pie bakes. It’s a neat bit of magic. 

Warm custard is not my thing, so I always cool and then thoroughly chill my custard pies before serving. Your choice. 

Courtesy Ken Haedrich, dean of The Pie Academy

If they aren’t fussy, there is one immutable requirement for making a proper custard pie, echoed in the quote you see here from my mentor, Marion Cunningham: always bake them low and slow. Little harm can come to a custard pie that bakes too slowly, but plenty if you try to speed up the process. Be sure the oven temperature never goes above 350°, and I prefer to favor nearer to 325°. 

“Overbaking is custard’s greatest enemy, causing it to become too firm and granular. A custard pie is done when the edges of the filling are set…The center of the pie should be soft and shaky, and should quiver when touched gently with your finger.” – Marion Cunningham in The Fannie Farmer Baking Book

I’ll leave you this week with a short video I made to show off both this pie and our single slice pie boxes that we sell in our online store and haven’t gotten much air time lately. I hope you’ll check it out; it’s only about a minute long. Thanks. 

View our single slice pie boxes here. 

PASTRY NOTE: Use any favorite pie dough recipe here. If you don’t already have one, let me suggest the Good Basic Pie Dough or Three-Grain Butter Crust.

Toasted Almond Coconut Custard Pie

Yield 8 - 10 servings

If you love almonds, you'll adore this thick-rich custard pie with toasted almonds and coconut. Don't be fooled by custard pie's plain Jane reputation because this pie is in a class of its own.

Ingredients

  • Pastry for a single crust pie
  • FILLING
  • 1 cup whole almonds, toasted and cooled (see Notes for toasting instructions)
  • 1 cup flaked, sweetened coconut, toasted (see Notes for toasting instructions)
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half or whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. If you haven't already, prepare and refrigerate your pie dough for at least 45 minutes. Roll the dough into a 12 1/2- to 13-inch circle and line a 9 1/2-inch deep-dish pie pan with it. Form the overhanging dough into an upstanding ridge. Flute or crimp the ridge and refrigerate the shell for 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Tear off a sheet of aluminum foil about 16-inches long. Carefully - so you don’t disturb the dough - line the pie shell with the foil, pressing it into the creases so it fits like a glove. Add a thick layer of dried beans, banking them up the sides.
  3. Bake the pie shell on the center oven rack for 25 minutes. Slide it out and carefully remove the foil and beans. Re-poke the holes if they’ve filled in. Slide the shell back in and bake another 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the pie shell to a cooling rack. Once cooled, smear a little cream cheese or sour cream into the fork holes to plug them. Cool the beans thoroughly, store in a jar, and save them for next time.
  4. Set the oven to 350°. Put the toasted almonds and 1/4 cup of the sugar in a food processor and pulse until the almonds are finely ground, but don't overdo it: you don't want to make almond flour. Set aside along with the toasted coconut.
  5. Combine the eggs and egg yolks in a large bowl and beat on medium-low speed with an electric mixer - hand-held is fine - gradually adding the remaining 1 cup sugar. Add the heavy cream, half-and-half or milk, vanilla, almond extract, and salt and beat briefly on medium speed. Stir in the chopped almonds and toasted coconut.
  6. Put your pie shell on a baking sheet near the oven and carefully pour or ladle the filling into the shell. Put the baking sheet and pie on the center oven rack and bake until the custard is set and the top of the pie is golden brown, about 50 to 60 minutes, turning the pie 180 degrees about midway through the baking. When the pie is done, the filling will be wobbly, but you should not see the filling move in waves under the crusty top. Give the pie a little nudge to check. 
  7. Transfer the pie to a rack and cool right on the sheet. Serve lukewarm, if you prefer, but I like to chill mine for at least several hours before serving. After the pie has cooled thoroughly, cover it loosely with tented aluminum foil and refrigerate. 

Notes

Toasting almonds - Preheat the oven to 350°. Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and toast on the middle oven rack for 8 to 10 minutes, until they turn a shade darker and you can just begin to smell their toasty aroma. Immediately tip them off the sheet and onto a plate to cool; if you leave them on the sheet they'll continue to toast. Cool thoroughly before storing (or in this case, chopping them. I actually prefer to refrigerate them for this recipe, before chopping, because I think cold almonds cut more cleanly.)

Toasting coconut - Preheat the oven to 325°. Spread the coconut on a rimmed baking sheet and toast on the middle oven rack for about 7 minutes. Open the oven and give it a stir with a spatula or large fork. Continue to toast and stir in 5 minute increments, keeping a close eye on it because once coconut starts to brown, it happens quickly. When the coconut is golden brown, remove it from the oven and immediately turn it out onto a large plate or it will continue to darken on the sheet. Cool thoroughly before storing in a sealed jar, for longer storage.