Sunday, March 14, 2010

Happy Pi(e) Day!

Today is March 14th, which means it's Pi Day! If you've never heard of Pi Day, you must learn about it; it'll give you a fantastic excuse to make and eat dessert. And who doesn't love a great excuse to eat dessert?!


Let me tell you this: today's date is 3/14. The Greek letter Pi's first few digits of mathematical value are 3.14. Get it?!

As many of you know, I am not mathematically inclined. In fact, one of the happiest days of my life was a couple of years ago when I walked out of the last math class I would ever have to take. I nearly cried--and I'm not exaggerating.

Growing up, the only day of math class I ever looked forward to Pi Day, March 14th. Derived from the first three numbers of Pi's mathematical value 3.14, Pi day was the best day in math class in the entire year solely because all of the math teachers would make pies.

Pie--the only thing that could coax a book nerd with a sweet tooth to memorize numbers she would never care about otherwise.

I owe so much to that clever math teacher who decided to make a teaching moment out of a clever pun. I remember one teacher who made a wager us students: if any of his pupils could say the first 20 digits of Pi, they would earn a slice of glorious pie. I remember memorizing the first not twenty, but twenty-one digits of Pi--I treated them like they were phone numbers. So in my mind, I was only memorizing three phone numbers to get a slice of pie--a small price to pay. Needless to say, I rattled the numbers off flawlessly in order to get myself a nice slice of pecan pie. The sad thing is that I can remember the flavor of the pie...but I can't remember the actual number.

3.141...5...9...maybe? That's about all I've got...*sigh*

I'm missing so many digits. This is disgraceful.

And that's why I have a food blog...and don't work for NASA. Trust me--it's DEFINITELY in everybody's best interest!

So in honor of Pi Day, I have decided to give you a pie recipe of my own. I made this pie for my dear friend, Laura Bailey. She is a wonderfully brilliant friend (who probably knows many more digits of Pi than I do) who proclaimed that she wanted--no, needed--a coconut cream pie for her birthday. And because she needed one so much, I made her one. Then again, I didn't really need much prodding to make her pie. So if you ever tell me you want a pie...I will probably make you one.

Don't tempt me for the sake of it. That would just be cruel!

Alright friends, let's get down to it: the great thing about this recipe is that it's full of delicious coconut without being overly sweet! I make mine in a graham cracker crust because...well, I actually prefer those over the traditional pastry crust. But if you don't have any graham crackers lying around, this would be great with a traditional crust too! This pie is fantastic in the warmer months--a great way to cool off! Just make sure this is in your life by summertime, ok?


Coconut Cream Pie (serves 8-10)
*click here for a printer-friendly version of the recipe*

For the Crust
  • 1 cup of graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar
  • 1 stick of butter, melted

For the Filling
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 1/2 cups sweetened, flaked coconut
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon coconut extract

For the Topping
  • 2/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy whipping cream, chilled
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon coconut extract
To make the Crust:

To make the crust, combine the graham cracker crumbs and the sugar. Melt the butter in the microwave or in a saucepan and add to the crumb mixture, stirring until everything is moist and just comes together (if you need to add butter or graham cracker crumbs to achieve your desired consistency, that's fine--these numbers are a starting point for you). Press the mixture into the bottom and sides of a pie pan with your palm or the back of a spoon. Set aside, and make pie filling.

To make the Filling:

Whisk the sugar, eggs, egg yolk, and flour in medium bowl. Bring the milk and coconut to a simmer (a rolling bubble) in a saucepan over medium heat. Slowly add the hot milk mixture to the egg mixture, whisking constantly--you don't want to have scrambled eggs in your pie! Return the mixture to the same saucepan. Cook the mixture until the custard boils then thickens, stirring constantly for about 3-4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, and mix in the vanilla and coconut extracts. Pour the custard to a medium bowl. Press plastic wrap directly onto surface--this prevents a nasty skin from forming on top of the pie. Chill until cold, at least 3 hours. Transfer the filling to crust. Cover and chill overnight.

At this point, the pie looks like this. Still yummy, but now it's time to dress it up!

To make the topping:

Toast the coconut in a small skillet over medium heat until lightly browned, stirring occasionally, about 3-5 minutes. Set aside and cool completely.

Using electric mixer, beat the cream, sugar, and coconut extract in medium bowl until stiff peaks form (make sure your whipping cream and beaters are cold--this encourages peaks to form). Spread the whipped cream over top of filling. Sprinkle the toasted coconut over the surface of the pie. Serve the pie cold, and devour it!

Mmm...the wonderful custardy goodness with the whipped creamy's enough to make you swoon! Let's take a closer look.

Oh, look at that crunchy toasted coconutty goodness...I just wanna swipe my finger across the top of that pie. I'm mischievous like that.

Darling friends, even if you're not into coconut, MAKE THIS PIE! Many of my friends who aren't coconut people enjoy this pie. And for those of you who enjoy're going to thank yourself for making it.

Any day that celebrates with pie, even if it's remotely associated with math, is ok with me. I hope you enjoy Pi Day as much as I do!

Taking every advantage of this blessed day,

EDIT: To second what Amy said - I too celebrated Pi(e) Day. Mother Pea and I had every intention of making our own pie, but the whole "Spring Forward" thing threw us off. So instead, this Pea went to The Loveless Cafe (one of the best, most celebrated Southern restaurants in Tennessee). There, I had my choice of about 15 pies, I settled on the Southern Pecan Pie. OH MY GOODNESS. Best Pie ever. I still have some left will be eaten on 3.15 The IDES OF MARCH. Beware...

Cautiously Full,


  1. That looks incredible! Gonna have to put that on my to try list!

  2. We celebrated Pi Day at our house too, but with lemon meringue! Any excuse to have pie, right? I've never made coconut cream. I'll have to try it.