Swoon for Macaroon

In a world of 2.5 children, I am not an average American for many reasons, but mostly because I am a mother to two tail-wagging, four-legged creatures. This has never stopped me from celebrating Mother's Day, thanks to my humorous husband and loving Labradoodles, Nacho and Guero, and their creative tactics.

While other mother's are celebrating with breakfast in bed, handmade cards, colorful flowers or a special lunch or dinner at a favorite restaurant, I get a few special treats from my husband and the "kids" and then make a special dessert for this occasion when we celebrate me.

Because this was the first time in six years I have not had to work on Mother's Day, it was agreed this definitely warranted a spectacular dessert. Grateful to my monthly arrival of food magazines including Bon Appetit, Saveur and Food & Wine, they serve as a springboard to plan "must-make" dishes, meals and desserts--many of which I share with you.

It was 2009 when I first started making Cowgirl Granola. The holiday season was approaching and I decided to make one of my all-time favorite cookies, chocolate-dipped coconut macaroons, and see what the response was like. Customers fell in love with these creations and why not? Maybe it was the addition of a single almond in the center or the chocolate drizzle or dipped bottoms? Though I did quit making the cookies to sell at the farmers market, these naturally gluten-free cookies have always remained a personal favorite.

Back then I hesitated to make these cookies on a long-term basis because, at the time, there was only sweetened shredded coconut available. The reality of feeding people more sugar did not bode well with me, so I scratched them from my culinary repertoire. Fortunately, there are now many sources for unsweetened shredded coconut which opens up a whole world of opportunities for those of us who prefer low sugar, paleo or no sugar desserts.

The moment I saw the recipe for this coconut cream pie with a coconut macaroon press-in crust, I announced this was the dessert we would be having for Mother's Day. Since David also loves coconut macaroons and coconut cream pie, he was delighted with this edict and, like me, waited patiently for the day to arrive.

Admittedly, this recipe is not one that can be tossed together in minutes, placed in the oven and be done with. In fact, it is a labor of love requiring several steps and a commitment of time. Being that this dessert celebrated me, it was well worth the effort.

The beauty of this decadent dessert is the combination of flavors and textures. The fact it is gluten-free and does not require that much sugar sealed the deal.

A crispy coconut macaroon crust brushed with melted chocolate and allowed to harden so it created a "crust layer" so the rich and creamy coconut custard will not soak through the crust. Crowned with whipped cream and sprinkled with a combination of toasted almonds, chocolate and coconut makes this spectacular dessert even more over the top.

An exquisite way to celebrate Mother's Day 2015. Or any special occasion when the celebrant swoons for coconut macaroons.

Buen provecho!
Coconut Cream Pie with Coconut Macaroon Crust
The Cowgirl Gourmet is forever grateful to Bon Appetit for sharing this decadent recipe which comes from Tandem Coffee + Bakery in Portland, Maine

Print recipe

Wow. That is all I have to say. Coconut macaroon crust brushed with melted chocolate and filled with coconut cream custard. If you really want to take this dessert over the top, go ahead and crumble toasted almonds stirred with melted chocolate and then dusted with toasted coconut. Add a big dollop of homemade whipped cream and you're done. Really. This is a show-stopping dessert that does take time to make, but with every bite, you will know why it is worth the effort.

Makes 1- 9" pie

Non-stick vegetable spray
1 large farm fresh egg white
1 3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and slightly cooled

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly coat a 9" pie pan with non-stick spray. In a large bowl, lightly mix egg white, coconut, sugar, butter and salt with a rubber spatula until evenly combined and it becomes a paste-like mixture. (Do not wash this bowl yet, but just set it aside as you will use it later.)
Using your hands, press the mixture evenly into the bottom and sides of the pie pan.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the edges are golden and the bottom is just barely golden. Remove pan from the oven and set on wire rack and let cool.
Then brush crust with melted chocolate and set aside. Leave the oven on...

Filling and Assembly
2 wide strips lime zest (use a vegetable peeler to get nice wide strips of the zest)
1 3/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk (canned)
1/4 cup raw almonds, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons shredded coconut, shredded.
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
3 large farm fresh egg yolks
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted chilled butter
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar

In a medium saucepan, bring lime zest, milk and coconut milk to a simmer. Cover, remove from heat and let steep for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, with the oven still on, place the coarsely chopped almonds on a rimmed baking sheet and place in the oven for 6-8 minutes. Add the shredded coconut to the baking sheet and continue baking for another 4-6 minutes, or until the coconut is toasted and golden and the almonds are fragrant and slightly darkened. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Melt chocolate in a bowl. Place a piece of parchment paper on the counter. Stir the almonds into the melted chocolate and pour onto the parchment paper. Sprinkle the toasted coconut over the chocolate covered almonds and refrigerate until chilled through, about 10 minutes. Coarsely chop the topping, cover and place back in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Remove the lime zest pieces from the milk mixture and discard. Return milk mixture to a simmer. In that same bowl you made the crust in, place the egg yolks, cornstarch, salt and sugar and whisk until well blended.
Continue whisking as you add 1/2 cup of the milk mixture to the egg mixture.
Now add the egg mixture to the milk mixture and continue to whisk and cook over medium heat until mixture is thickened and bubbling.
Once it coats the back of the spoon and you can pull your finger through and it doesn't run together, cook it another 1-2 minutes and you are ready.
It will look like a thick pudding at this point. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter and lime juice. Let custard cool a bit, stirring occasionally.

Pour custard into the chocolate macaroon crust and chill until set, about two hours. (If you want to avoid the pudding "skin" affect, place a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the filling. I prefer no plastic because it invariably messes up the pretty top, but it is up to you.)

Just before serving, whip the heavy cream and sugar until medium-stiff peaks form. If you are serving the pie to a group of people, spoon whipped cream over the custard leaving just about 1" border from the crust and swirl decoratively. Sprinkle chocolate-almond-coconut mixture around the edge of the pie.

Refrigerate any leftover pie and it will keep for up to three days.
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