Today is National Pie Day, if you believe in those sorts of holidays. And I do, if only for the sake of my stomach. While I was laying in bed dreaming up different pies I could make to celebrate this most-made-up and most-delicious of holidays, my mind kept wandering to another sweet treat: the ice cream cone. More specifically, a particular ice cream from Mitchell’s, the best little ice cream shop in San Francisco. On hot fall nights, I used to leash Clarabelle up and walk the ten minutes from my house to Mitchell’s to wait in line for what I consider to be the best combo there: one scoop of taro ice cream topped with a scoop of young coconut all stacked on a freshly-made sugar cone. It’s the perfect mix of light, tropical flavors and I love the playful purple color of taro.
Since I couldn’t stop thinking about my favorite Mitchell’s cone, I decided to turn it into a timely pie. Behold: the coconut-taro cream pie with a sugar cone crust and a cherry on top. Taro powder, which can be bought online and at your local Asian market, added to a classic coconut custard lends a signature purple color and incomparable sweet and starchy flavor to the pie. A crushed-up sugar cone base is not only the easiest crust you’ll ever make, it adds the perfect amount of crunch to the otherwise light and creamy fare. All-in-all, I’m pretty darn pleased with this creation.
Coconut-Taro Cream Pie
adapted from Martha Stewart
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1/4 cup cornstarch
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 1 1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk (one 13.75 oz can)
• 1 1/4 cups whole milk
• 4 large egg yolks
• 1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
• 1/4 cup taro instant tea powder
• purple food coloring (optional)
• 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
• 2 Tbsp powdered sugar
• maraschino cherries
• 8 Tbsp melted butter
• 12 sugar cones
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. To make the crust, crunch or blend sugar cones until they resemble a coarse sand. I also left a few bigger-size chunks for added texture. Add the melted butter to the crunched-up cones and mix until combined.
3. Press the mixture evenly into a standard pie pant and bake for 15 minutes, or until slightly browned. Let cool completely.
4. To make the filling, Combine granulated sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan. Whisk in coconut milk and whole milk. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until bubbling and thick, about 7 minutes.
5. Whisk egg yolks in a medium bowl. Add milk mixture to yolks in a slow, steady stream, whisking until completely incorporated. Return tosaucepan; bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, 1 to 2 minutes.
6. Pour the custard into a bowl and stir in vanilla, taro powder and shredded coconut. Add food coloring for a more impactful purple, if desired. Pour into pie crust, and smooth top. Wrap tightly in plastic, and refrigerate until filling is completely set, at least 4 hours (N.B. I didn’t have time to let my custard set completely, so mine oozed a bit when I sliced into the pie. I recommend chilling the pie for as long as a day or two to ensure everything sets properly).
7. When you’re ready to dig in or your patience wears thin, whichever comes first, whip the heavy cream and powdered sugar together until soft peaks form. Spread atop the pie, building it up a bit in the middle, and plop bright red cherry right on top.