Next Tuesday is St Patrick’s Day so we’ve been thinking about a menu that fits the holiday. But today is March 14th, National Pi Day, as in the Greek symbol used in mathematics to represent the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Pi is always the same number (3.14159265359), no matter what the size of the circle you use to compute it. When you do that calculation, Pi continues on past its decimal place infinitely, with no pattern or repetition.
Since today is 3.14.15, it’s a once-in-a-century day, and at 9:26 AM and 9:26 PM, there may be some special celebrating by us nerds!
Pi deals with circles, so it has become an international day to bake pies for those of us nerds who also love to bake.
Joe and I were talking about a blog entry for a St Patrick’s Day dessert, so I suggested a Key Lime Pie. I’ll do darn near anything to avoid making a regular pie crust, and I wanted to switch up the usual graham cracker crust, so I decided to go with a coconut crust. I also wanted to try a filling made with something other than the sweetened condensed milk that is in nearly every key lime recipe you’ll find.
After some research, I combined and adapted recipes from several different sources and I have to say I’m pretty pleased with the results. The combination of lime and coconut is so darn good, and the filling is really smooth.
I don’t care for meringue on pies, so I always substitute whipped cream and find another use for the leftover egg whites.
Be sure to use canned unsweetened coconut milk, not coconut cream. It adds a subtle smooth flavor to the lime which can sometimes be a little harsh. You’ll probably find it in the ethnic foods section of your grocery store. You can substitute lemon juice and/or orange juice for the lime juice. I made a pie last year with equal parts lemon and orange juice and it was so delicious I couldn’t believe I had never heard of that combination in a pie before.
Anyway, if you’re looking for a great dessert for St Patrick’s Day or you just want to pretend that you’re in Florida or the Caribbean, try this recipe. It’s easy and delicious.
Key Lime Pie In A Coconut Crust
Coconut Pie Crust:
- 2 cups flaked sweetened coconut
- 3 tablespoons melted butter
Key Lime Filling:
- 1 cup white granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 13.5- oz can plain coconut milk
- 1/2 cup Key lime juice (freshly squeezed or bottled)
- 4 large egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons butter
- food coloring (optional)
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- zest from 1 lime (optional)
- Preheat oven to 325ºF.
- Spray a 9" pie plate with cooking spray.
- Combine coconut and melted butter and mix thoroughly.
- Press onto the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pie plate.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until coconut is golden. Cool on a wire rack while making the filling.
- In a small bowl whisk the egg yolks; set aside.
- In medium saucepan whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and salt.
- Whisk in coconut milk and lime juice until smooth.
- Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and comes to a boil.
- Remove from heat.
- Gradually whisk about 1 cup of the hot pudding mixture into the egg yolks, then whisk the egg yolk mixture back into remaining pudding mixture and return to the heat.
- Bring back to a boil and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.
- Remove from heat and add the butter and optional food coloring, stirring until smooth. Immediately pour filling into the baked coconut crust. Cool at room temperature, then refrigerate until serving time.
- Whip cream and sugar until soft peaks form, then spoon or pipe onto the chilled pie and decorate with lime zest, if desired.