These pocket sized desserts from Handheld Pies are not exactly like the slice you'd find at your local diner, and the fact that it comes in a jar is only the beginning.
Sarah Billingsley and Rachel Wharton have crafted a take on classic coconut cream that feels updated and even a little elegant. Beginning with a flaky butter crust with just the right amount of salt, the custard that's spooned into the shells is intensely coconutty with chewy-tender shreds of unsweetened coconut and coconut milk and finished with a dollop of barely sweet whipped cream and a sprinkle of toasted coconut. Not exactly like the one you're going to find in your local diner's dessert case, but chances are they're not serving pies in jars either.
Reprinted with permission from Handheld Pies by Sarah Billingsley and Rachel Wharton. Copyright © 2011. Published by Chronicle Books. Available wherever books are sold. All rights reserved.
- Yield:makes 6 pies
- Active time: 1 hour
- Total time:3 hours
- 1/2 recipe Flaky Butter Crust (recipe follows)
- 1 1/2 cups shredded or flaked unsweetened dried coconut
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 2/3 cup plus 1/4 cup sugar
- 5 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup cold heavy cream
- Flaky Butter Crust
- 1 cup cold unsalted butter
- 2 cups all-purpose/plain flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 3 to 5 tablespoons ice water
For the Flaky Butter Crust: Cut the butter into 1/2-inch cubes, and freeze them while you measure and mix the dry ingredients.
To make the dough in a food processor: Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the processor and pulse three or four times to mix. Retrieve the butter cubes from the freezer, scatter them over the flour mixture, and pulse until the mixture forms pea-size clumps. Add the ice water, 1 tbsp at a time, and pulse to mix, adding just enough water for the dough to come together.
To make the dough by hand: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Retrieve the butter cubes from the freezer and distribute them evenly in the flour mixture, coating them with the flour mixture. Sink your fingers into the mixture and begin pinching the butter and flour together, making thin, floury disks of the butter. Continue working the mixture until the butter is broken down first into floury pea-sized beads and then into a loose mixture that resembles wet sand. Drizzle in 3 tablespoons of the ice water and use your hand like a comb to mix in the liquid just until the dough holds together. If necessary, add additional water, 1 tbsp at a time, until the dough comes together in a crumbly mass.
Alternatively, if using a pastry blender, whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Scatter the butter evenly over the flour mixture, and stir to coat with the flour mixture. Using a swift, downward motion, cut the butter into the dry ingredients, turning the bowl and then plunging the cutter into the mixture repeatedly. You may need to stop occasionally to slip chunks of butter from the blades back into the flour. Continue cutting until the mixture resembles wet sand. Drizzle in 3 tablespoons of the water and use a fork or your fingers to mix in the liquid just until the dough holds together. If necessary, add additional water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the dough comes together in a crumbly mass.
Turn the dough out onto a clean, floured work surface or sheet of parchment paper. Gather the dough together in a mound, then knead it a few times to smooth it out. Divide it in half, and gently pat and press each half into a rough rectangle, circle, or square about 1 inch thick. The shape you choose depends on what shape you will be rolling out the dough. If you don’t know how you will be using the dough at this point, opt for a circle. Wrap in plastic wrap or in the parchment paper and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.
For the Pies:Line 6 half-pint jars with the butter crust with the pastry. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days.
Meanwhile, Preheat the oven to 325°F. Spread the dried coconut evenly on a rimmed baking sheet/tray, place in the oven, and toast until golden, about 5 minutes. Once the coconut starts to brown, it can overdarken quickly, so watch closely. Remove from the oven and immediately transfer to a shallow bowl or plate and let cool completely (do not leave it on the hot pan or it will continue to brown). Increase the oven temperature to 400°F.
Fit a piece of parchment/baking paper into each pastry-lined jar, extending it beyond the rim, and fill with pie weights . Arrange the jars on a rimmed baking sheet/tray, place in the oven, and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, lift out the paper and weights, return the jars to the oven, and continue baking until the pastry looks dry and is golden, about 5 minutes more. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a baking rack before filling.
Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk the egg yolks until blended. Set aside. Set a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl.
In a saucepan, whisk together the coconut milk, milk, 2/3 cup of the sugar, the cornstarch, and the salt. Place over medium heat and cook, whisking constantly, until mixture begins to steam and bubble at the edges of the pan, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Gradually add about 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture to the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Pour this mixture into the saucepan while stirring constantly. Return the pan to medium heat and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture is thickened to a puddinglike consistency and is just beginning to bubble, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain through the sieve into the bowl. Stir in the vanilla and 1 cup of the toasted coconut (reserve the remainder for topping the pies). Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap directly onto the surface of the mixture, and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours or up to 3 days.
Just before assembling the pie, in a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, whip the cream until about tripled in volume. Add the sugar and whip until soft peaks form. (Or, use a large bowl and a handheld mixer or whisk.)
Spoon about 3/4 cup of the coconut filling into each jar and smooth the tops. Top the filling with 2 to 3 tablespoons of the whipped cream, then sprinkle the reserved toasted coconut evenly over the cream.
Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days then serve chilled or at room temperature. These pies cannot be frozen.