Monday, March 23, 2015

Happy Belated Pi Day!

Happy Belated Pi Day!  Yes, I know I am late, but I have good reason!  And the mathy part of me just could not let this date pass me by.  By date, I'm talking about 3-14-15, and if you remember back to geometry class, Pi equals 3.1415....  There won't be another date like this!  Thus, March 14, 2015 was the best Pi day we will have in my lifetime, and what better way to celebrate than baking a pie?  It turns out that we left for Spring Break on March 13, and got to Florida on the 14th.  I did not have the ability (or groceries) to bake a pie right then, so I made it on the 15th instead.  And then didn't blog about it til now, because, well, I was on vacation!

We were on a beach vacation so I decided we needed a beachy pie.  I found  recipe for Pina Colada Pie!  Mmmm, hmmm.  If you are thinking, yum, you would be right!  However this ended up being somewhat of a comedy of errors pie as well.  See, I (being the baking nerd that I am) actually made and froze a pie dough disk in advance to bring to Florida.  Which totally worked.  However when I chose my Pina Colada Pie recipe, I did not think about the fact that you CAN NOT par-bake a pie with no weights inside.  I had not thought of bringing pie weights or buying dried beans, so guess what?  My delicious home-made pie crust slid down the sides of the pie pan and bubbled up in the middle and was pretty much a bona-fide mess!  Time for Plan B!  The pie recipe actually called for breaking up pecan cookies to make into a crust, so since I had thankfully brought a sleeve of graham crackers (theoretically for the clever boy's snacks), I used them for the cookies!  Problem solved!  Oh, and I sprinkled some brown sugar and cinnamon over the weirdo-looking pie shell, baked it for a bit longer, and we had that as a random treat.  I can't throw a delicious (though ugly) pie crust in the trash!

Ok, now that that craziness is all explained, let's talk about the actual pie!!  As I mentioned, the pie crust is made of crushed graham crackers (cookies), which is mixed with coconut and butter, pressed into a pie pan, and baked until browned.  The crust is topped with a layer of pineapple compote - crushed pineapple cooked with sugar and cornstarch until thick.  I added about a cup of coconut to this layer (as I originally thought I'd be using a regular pie crust and not have actual coconut anywhere in the pie).  On top of this comes a creamy layer of cream cheese, coconut cream and eggs.  The entire pie is baked, then you top this with whipped cream that has been beaten with more coconut cream.  I sprinkled toasted coconut around the edges and into a Pi shape in the middle.  Yum.  I mean. YUM.  It tastes like vacation in pie form!

Want to make this beachy treat for your family?  Here is the recipe!

Pina Colada Pie
adapted from Southern Living
2 cups pecan shortbread cookie crumbs (about 16 cookies) or 1 sleeve of graham crackers
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
2 TB cornstarch
1 8-oz. can crushed pineapple in juice
1 8-oz. package of cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups coconut cream (1 can - you can find this in the Asian section of the grocery store near coconut milk, OR near mix-ins for cocktails, called "cream of coconut" and often the Coco Lopez brand)
2 large eggs
1 cup whipping cream


Preheat the oven to 350F.

Mix together the cookie crumbs, coconut and butter, and press against the bottom and sides of a lightly buttered deep dish pie pan.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned.  Cool completely on a wire rack.  

Mix the sugar and cornstarch together in a small heavy saucepan.  Stir in the pineapple (I added 1 cup flaked coconut here).  Bring to a boil while stirring constantly.  Cook for 1 minute (keep stirring) until thickened.  Allow to cool completely (takes about 20 minutes).

Beat cream cheese at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer, using whisk attachment, until smooth. Slowly add 1 cup coconut cream, beating at low speed just until blended.  Refrigerate the remaining 1/2 cup coconut cream until later.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended each time.

Spread the cooled pineapple mixture over the crust, then spread the cream mixture over the pineapple.  Bake for 38-42 minutes, until set.  Cool completely on a wire rack, then cover and chill for at least 4 hours. 

Beat the whipping cream on high speed until foamy.  Add the coconut cream and continue to beat until soft-to-somewhat firm peaks form.  Spread over the pie.  Optional:  top with toasted coconut.
Printable Recipe

All in all, this turned out to be a super delicious pie!  I would definitely make it again, though this time I'd do the crust the right way from the start!

Did you do anything special for pi day??

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