December 7, 2014

A Birthday Equation

My beloved Mama asked me to make her a coconut cream pie for her birthday. The recipe I make requires rolling out a homemade pie crust, making a coconut custard, and crowning the whole thing with a meringue which may or may not survive an overnight holding pattern

The day I would need to make the pie is also the day of the children's Christmas program at church. Both my girls are in the program, I'm a reader, and I have been charged with feeding 50 shepherds, angels, et al., prior to the presentation. A full-on coconut cream pie will not be coming out of my kitchen this day.

Coconut Cream Pie Delight That's Better Than Robert Redford*

*As to the name of this dessert: in creating this recipe, I drew inspiration from a standard layered pastry/pudding concoction known, variously, as Pudding Delight, Almost-as-Good-as-Robert Redford, and Better Than ____________ (fill in the blank with whatever pleasure you suppose a dessert might surpass). I cobbled these together and came up with this name.

Coconut Cream Pie Delight That's Better Than Robert Redford

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup flaked coconut, toasted, plus additional for serving

8 oz. regular or 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1 cup thawed regular or reduced-fat whipped topping 

1 package (4-serving size) instant coconut cream pudding
1 package (4-serving size) instant white chocolate pudding (vanilla or French vanilla can be substituted)
3 cups 2% milk
1-2 cups thawed regular or reduced-fat whipped topping
additional toasted coconut, for garnish

For the crust: combine the flour, melted butter, and 1/2 cup toasted coconut in a small bowl with a fork. Press into the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish; it will be a thin layer. Not to worry: plenty more good stuff is going on top of it. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes until it looks dry in the middle and is starting to brown a little at the edges. It does not need to be brown all over. Cool completely on a wire rack.

For the middle layer: Beat the cream cheese until smooth (a wooden spoon works fine for this if it's soft to begin with). Mix in the confectioner's sugar just until incorporated. (Reduced-fat cream cheese tends to rebel and turn runny if beaten too much.) Spread evenly over cooled crust. Chill for about 10 minutes to set slightly.

For the pudding layer: Whisk together both pudding mixes and the milk until the mixture starts to thicken. Pour or spoon gently and evenly over the cream cheese layer and spread out evenly. Chill to set (at least 15 minutes) before topping with additional whipped topping in a thin, thick, or somewhere-in-between layer, depending on your preference. Chill until ready to serve. At serving time (but not before), top with additional toasted coconut. Cut into squares and serve. (Alternatively, stand at the kitchen counter with the pan and a spoon and dig in. I did this with the sampler I made for myself along with my mom's birthday batch...but only for quality assurance testing purposes, of course.)