Sunday, 3 August 2014

Coconut and Kaffir Lime Custard Pie

If you've had Thai food, you've almost definitely tasted the flavour of kaffir lime leaves. It's often used in curries and broths and lends a tangy, slightly floral note. Coconut milk is also a very frequently used ingredient in Thai food. I figured that if they work so well in savoury dishes, they'd probably work equally well in a dessert together! And so, this custard pie was born.

If you have Thai food often, this pie might be a bit of a weird experience for you for the first few bites. You'll recognize the ingredients from very fragrant, bold, spicy dishes but this time it's in a creamy, smooth, and mellow custard pie. It's like an old high school friend that was never any good at public speaking and then finding out their new career is a public speaker (is that even a career?). You get my drift.

My brother had that experience. He likes his Thai food quite a bit and does not partake in desserts as often as I do. So when he tried this pie, he genuinely looked puzzled and kind of confused. He knew the flavours, but they were so different from what he knew them from. I could see the gears turning in his mind. Once we straightened out that yes, it's kaffir lime leaves and yes, it's a dessert, I think he liked it.

I have to say, I was pretty surprised with this pie myself. I am really not a coconut fan. I was pretty worried that I wouldn't love it. I was worried it would taste like straight coconut cream, something I'm not too fond of. 

I was so pleasantly surprised by the mellow and subtle coconut flavour! The eggs, milk, sugar, and vanilla all help to tone down the coconut so you can taste the delicate kaffir lime flavour. The chantilly (sweetened whipped cream) also helps to round out the flavours and keep everything light and not too overpowering. 

I brought this pie over to my dads house for dinner one night, not expecting much from it, but once everyone had tried it, we all agreed that I would make it again for the next weeks dinner. That good! 

Whenever my dad requests desserts, it's chocolate. Chocolate anything. He even gives me a big ol' block of Callebaut chocolate to get me started. So to have him ask for this Coconut and Kaffir Lime Pie for a second week in a row - unbelievable. This pie has the Hint of Vanilla Dad Approval, you guys. That's serious stuff.

Coconut and Kaffir Lime Custard Pie

Coconut and Kaffir Lime Pastry Cream
Recipe adapted from Dahlia Bakery Cookbook

230 g whole milk
230 g unsweetened coconut milk, stirred
1/2 vanilla bean
5 kaffir lime leaves
2 large eggs
125 g sugar
26 all-purpose flour
57 g butter, at room temperature
1/2 lime, zested

Pie Crust

175 g pastry flour
50 g all-purpose flour
1 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
113 g unsalted butter, freezer cold, cut into 1/2 inch dice
30 g vegetable shortening, freezer cold, cut into 1/2 inch dice
57 g water, ice cold
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar

Chantilly and Garnish

500 g heavy cream
50 g powdered sugar
1/2 vanilla bean
50 g shredded coconut
1/2 lime, zested

For the pastry cream, combine the milk, coconut milk, and kaffir lime leaves in a saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add to the milk mixture. Heat over medium heat until it just comes to a boil, then turn off the heat and let the leaves steep for 20 minutes. Remove the leaves, return to the heat, and bring back to just a boil.

While the milk mixture is coming to a boil, combine the eggs, sugar, and flour in a medium bowl and whisk until slightly paler in colour. Once the milk mixture has just reached a boil, slowly pour in half the milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture while whisking constantly. Then transfer the contents of the bowl back into the saucepan, whisking constantly, and set over medium-low heat. Cook the mixture until it thickens, about 4 to 5 minutes, whisking constantly the entire time. Once it has thickened, take off the heat and whisk for a few minutes to cool it down. Add the butter and the lime zest and whisk to incorporate. Continue whisking for a few minutes to let the oils from the lime zest release. Strain the pastry cream into a clean bowl and set it over an ice bath. 

Once the pastry cream has cooled to room temperature, place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface to prevent a skin, and refrigerate for 2 hours, until firm.

For the pie crust, combine the flour, sugar, and salt in an electric mixer. Add the cold butter and shortening and mix on low speed until the mixture look shaggy and the pieces of butter are slightly smaller than peas. Stop the mixer and check the size of the butter, sifting through the mixture with your hands. If you find bigger chunks, smear them between your fingers.

Put the ice-cold water and vinegar into a measuring cup and stir to combine. Add the water-vinegar  to the flour-fat mixture on low speed and mix briefly with a few rotations of the paddle, but do not let the dough come together.

Turn off the mixture and scrape the sides and bottom of the mixer to make sure there are no pockets of dry ingredients. Squeeze a small amount of dough in your hand. The dough should come together in a clump. If it’s too dry, add a little more water a few teaspoons at a time. 

Remove the dough from the mixer, shape into a flat circle, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Unwrap the disk of dough and place it on a lightly floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out to about 12 inches in diameter and about 1/8th inch thick. Transfer the dough to a 9-inch pie tin and gently press the dough into the sides of the pan. Trim the excess dough to a 3/4th to 1 inch overhang. Create your desired border.

Chill the dough for 15 to 30 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line the pastry-lined pie tin with a piece of parchment and fill it with dried beans, rice, or pie weights. Bake until the bottom of the dough is baked through but not browned, 55 to 60 minutes.

Remove the pie shell from the oven and remove the parchment, beans, rice, or pie weights. Bake the shell for a further 15 minutes to create an even golden brown colour. Remove the pie shell from the oven and let cool completely.

Lower the oven temperature to 325 F. Spread the shredded coconut on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet and bake for 5 to 7 minutes. Make sure to stir the coconut often to ensure even colouring. Alternatively, place a frying pan over medium heat and put half the coconut in. Stir and toss the coconut continuously to ensure even browning, then spread on a baking sheet to cool. Repeat with the remaining half the coconut. Set aside.

Once the pastry cream has chilled completely and the pie shell has come to room temperature, you can fill the pie shell with the pastry cream. Smooth the top to create an even surface for your chantilly. Refrigerate while you make it.

In a cold mixing bowl, combine the powdered sugar and heavy cream. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add to the cream. Whip on medium-high until medium peaks form. Transfer to a piping bag and pipe your desired design on top. Garnish with the cooled toasted coconut and the zest of half a lime. Refrigerate until ready to serve.



  1. Wow!!!! It looks amazing and so flavourful, I do love coconut in almost any presentation, and it's Dad approved so I bet it's great. The two pictures from the end are incredible!! The pie really pops out. Kudos!

    1. Thanks so much! If you wanted even more coconut-ness, you could use whipped coconut cream instead of chantilly!

  2. hi what should 26 all purpose flour be? 20g? thanks kate

  3. Yes, it should be 26 g! Sorry about that!!

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