Several weeks ago, I read Jennifer Perillo’s blog about losing her husband Mikey. The entire post is heartbreaking. She details how she kept meaning to make Mikey’s favorite peanut butter pie but, sadly, never had the opportunity.
Her story resonated with me. When you lose a loved one unexpectedly, your mind inevitably thinks of the litany of things you should have done, could have done, and the things you wish you could do now, but can’t. I know.
I’ve spoken lovingly of my little boy, Rice Kernel, and my dear parents and in-laws. I don’t often speak about my husband though, unless it’s his opinion on a recipe. Frankly, I find it embarassingly difficult to share my feelings for him publicly. But this post and this pie are for him – even though he will likely never read it =) Coconut cream pie is his favorite and, in the past twelve years, I’ve often said, “I’ll make it for you, hun.” I never have until today.
My husband and I met in high school. We dated. We broke up. We reunited in college. Sure, it wasn’t that simple but, most days, we both feel it was meant to happen that way. On her deathbed, my Mom even joked about not ruling out a reunion. FHE is not perfect but even on days we have differences, I could wax poetic about how thoughtful and selfless he is as a partner and husband. And the truth is, he is an even more superb father.
Jennifer ends by asking her readers to make a peanut butter pie for Mikey. We did. (You’ll find the recipe in the link above.) After that, though, you should make that certain something for someone you love. No matter if it’s unhealthy, ridiculous, or just a laborious pain. Food is love, I always say.
It feels like we have all the time in the world to show people how much we love them, but the truth is we have no idea how much is left. So today, this pie is for FHE. And, in the spirit of love and full disclosure, no, those aren’t really his initials. His name is Jon. He’s FHE because he is my Favorite. Husband. Ever.
Coconut Cream Pie, adapted from Cooking Light
1 blind-baked 9-inch pastry shell or graham cracker crust, recipe below
2 1/4 cups whole milk or 2%
3/4 cup sugar, plus 1/4 cup for the egg whites
3 eggs, separated
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cups toasted coconut
2 tablespoon butter
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. In a saucepan, whisk the 2 cups of the milk and 3/4 cup sugar together. Place the pan over medium heat and bring the liquid up to a simmer.
- Whisk the egg yolks together. Temper the hot milk into the egg yolks. Whisk the egg mixture into the hot milk mixture.
- In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch in the remaining milk, making a slurry. Whisk the slurry into the hot milk mixture. Bring the liquid up to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook the mixture, stirring constantly, until the filling is thick, about 4 to 6 minutes. (It took only 2 for me.)
- Fold in the vanilla, coconut, and butter. Mix well. Pour the filling into the prepared pan and cool the pie completely.
- Using an electric mixer with a whip attachment, whip the egg white to soft peaks. Add the remaining sugar and whip the egg white to stiff peaks. Spread the egg whites over the top of the pie. Place the pie in the oven for about 3 to 4 minutes, or until the meringue is golden brown.
- Note: We made a whip topping instead of meringue.
Graham Cracker Crust
Makes one 9-inch crust
1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (ground fine from 12 large graham crackers)
1/4 cup light brown sugar
Pinch of salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted (for a healthier, butter-free crumb, I often cheat and use 3-4 tbsp canola oil with 2-3 tbsp water. It doesn’t hold as well, but it’s still delicious)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter your pie plate, and set aside.
- In a small bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs, brown sugar and salt.
- Add the melted butter and mix thoroughly, first with a fork and then with your fingers. (If the mixture seems too sandy, wet your fingertips under running water, and keep mixing.)
- Press the mixture evenly into the bottom and up the sides of your pie plate.
- Bake for 8 minutes.
- Cool the crust on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before filling