Coconut Cream Pie
1 9-inch pastry pie shell, baked
10 tablespoons sugar
¼ cup cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 cups milk
½ cup evaporated milk
1 1-1/2 inch long vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/8 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/3 cup water
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ cup sugar
4 large egg whites
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 300 degrees. Scatter coconut in a 9-inch square pan. Bake stirring occasionally until evenly golden brown—15 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
- Whisk sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan. Add yolks, then immediately, but gradually, whisk in milk and evaporated milk. Drop in vanilla bean. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently at first, then constantly, as mixture starts to thicken, 8 to 10 minutes.
- Once mixture begins to simmer, continue to cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute more. Remove vanilla bean, scrape out seeds and whisk them back into pudding along with butter. Stir 1 cup toasted coconut into filling once butter has melted. Put plastic wrap directly over surface to prevent a skin from forming.
- For meringue, mix cornstarch and 1/3 cup water in a small saucepan. Heat, whisking occasionally at beginning and more frequently as mixture thickens. When mixture turns translucent, remove from heat.
- Mix cream of tartar and sugar together. Beat egg whites with vanilla until frothy. Beat in sugar mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time, until sugar is incorporated and whites form soft peaks. Drop in warm cornstarch mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time and continue to beat meringue to stiff peaks.
- Remove plastic wrap from filling. Return saucepan of filling to very low heat during last minute or so of beating meringue to ensure that filling is hot.
- Immediately pour filling into pie shell. Distribute meringue evenly around edge, then center of pie, with a rubber spatula to keep it from sinking into filling and making sure it attaches to pie shell to prevent shrinking. Use back of spoon to create peaks all over meringue.
- Bake in 325 degree oven on rack at medium level until meringue is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Dust with remaining toasted coconut.