A coconut custard pie recipe inspired by the tropical French Polynesian island of Bora Bora! Tender, flaky crust topped with warm a silky egg custard filling.
This coconut custard pie is the perfect balance of creamy egg filling and macaroon flavors. Have you ever traveled to a destination and ate your way through the trip? When Jason and I went to Bora Bora on our honeymoon, this delicious dessert was on nearly every restaurant menu. Typically served warm with a cold refreshing scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on top.
I’m usually a baked fruit or chocolate dessert fan, but this was unexpectedly delightful. After our third visit to Bora Bora for our babymoon, I thought that I should try to recreate the flavors of French Polynesia by surprising Jason with this coconut custard pie recipe. And guess what, he said I nailed it! Ready to try it?
How to make coconut custard pie
- The Incredible Egg: Custards are an essential type of dessert that you will always find in some variation, such as crème brûlée, pumpkin pie, and cheesecake. Eggs are the star of the dish, and as the proteins cook, they help the custard set correctly.
- Coconut Custard Filling: The key to the filling is getting the consistency and ratio of coconut flakes to egg custard just right. You don’t want the mixture to be too dry or have the custard set into a firm mass. So I targeted a soft, warm center, with a little delicate chew from the coconut flakes.
- Time and Temperature: The other critical factor to a smooth baked custard is heat intensity and time. You want to bake the custards in a low-temperature environment and slow time. This recipe calls for an oven temperature of 350°F for 45 to 50 minutes of baking. The gentle heat and longer time allow the egg proteins to set, yet stay loose and smooth. Versus high heat causes proteins to curdle and toughen too quickly like scrambled eggs. Since pies tend to cook quicker on the edges, the extended time at a lower temperature allows the custard to set into a lovely delicate dessert.
The crust is made using a flaky pie dough technique for a sturdy base. I incorporated coconut flavor into the crust as well. I added a few ground coconut flakes to the dough.
The French Polynesian islands are known for two staple food items; Tahitian vanilla beans and coconuts. As you know, vanilla beans can get pricey but I think they’re worth it, so I always buy them from the duty-free store when we travel to Tahiti.
I love how this recipe has both of the islands key ingredients, making it remind us even more of this delicious cuisine. I also like to use whole vanilla beans in savory recipes like my Mahi Mahi with Tahitian vanilla sauce. It takes the flavors to the next level!
I found the perfect ice cream to serve with this dessert, Talenti Gelato and Sorbetto sells a Caribbean coconut flavor that is addicting! Whenever we are missing our favorite tropical island, I hit the store to gather the simple pie ingredients to remind us of our tasty adventures in Bora Bora.
What dessert have you tried that you miss from your travels? I’d love to hear in the comments section below. Maybe I can try to remake it for you!
Pie crust selection for custard fillings
This coconut custard pie uses a few essential techniques to create a tender pastry that is strong enough to hold the filling. A flaky crust is first formed by incorporating pea-sized pieces of butter and shortening in the pie dough. The crust is then blind baked in the cake pan, before adding the filling. Blind baking helps to pre-set the crust so that it’s not soggy on the bottom from the wet egg filling. The crust will finish cooking during the last step of baking with the custard coconut filling. The edges of the crust are covered with foil so that it does not get too brown.
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour , (249 g)
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes , ground in blender for 10 seconds (51 g)
- 5 tablespoons vegetable shortening , (cold)
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter , (cold) cut into 1/2-inch dice (71 g)
- 1/4 cup ice water
- 1 cup granulated sugar , (198 g)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted (50 g)
- 6 large eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract , pure
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups sweetened coconut flakes , (204 g)
- ice cream , (coconut or vanilla for serving)
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk the flour with the salt and ground coconut shreds.
- Add the cold cut pieces of butter and shortening to the flour, toss to coat. Use your fingers to cut in the shortening and butter into the flour mixture until the mixture resembles coarse meal with some pea-size pieces remaining.
- Gradually stir in the water with a fork until the dough just comes together.
- Scrape the dough out onto a work surface, lightly knead and gather up any crumbs and pat the dough into a 6-inch round disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate until well chilled, about 1 hour.
- On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to a 12-inch round, about 1/4 inch thick.
- Ease the dough into a deep 9-inch to 9 1/2-inch glass pie plate. Trim the overhanging dough to 1 inch and fold it under itself. Decorate the edges as desired and chill the crust until firm, about 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Place pie pan on a sheet pan Line the crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Cover the rim with strips of foil and bake in the lower third of the oven for 20 minutes, until the crust is barely set.
- Remove the parchment and pie weights and bake with the foil on the edges for 5 minutes longer, until the crust is just set but not brown.
- Lightly poke the bottom of the crust a few times to deflate it if it is puffed. Let cool; leave the foil strips on the rim.
- Lower the oven temperature to 350°F.
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk the sugar with the melted butter. Whisk in eggs until smooth. Add the buttermilk, vanilla and a 1/8-teaspoon salt and whisk until incorporated. Stir in the coconut.
- Place pie pan on a sheet pan. Pour the filling into the pie crust. Line the edges of the pie with foil.
- Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until the custard is set (not jiggly in the center) and golden brown on top. Remove the foil after 40 minutes of baking. If crust starts to brown too quickly, add foil back on the edges.
- Carefully transfer the pie to a cooling rack. Let the pie cool completely, then cut the cake into wedges and serve with ice cream.
- The pie can be covered and refrigerated for up to 5 days. Slice and reheat in the oven for a few minutes until the cake is warm and ready for eating!