THE WASHINGTON POST – Summer is the season for pie-making. And though I love a slice of fruit pie (à la mode, please) during these dog days, a slice of a no-bake cream pie is what I’m here for.
Be it lemon, chocolate, peanut butter, raspberry, banana or coconut; cheesecake-like or pudding-filled, a no-bake cream pie requires no heavy lifting (homemade pie dough, I’m looking at you). It calls only for pantry staple ingredients, is infinitely adaptable, depending on what you have on-hand and/or whatever you crave, can be assembled in minutes and – wait for it – does not require that you turn on your oven.
Moreover, a no-bake pie needs time to set up in the refrigerator (or freezer), making it the ultimate make-ahead warm-weather dessert (my favourite).
A no-bake cream pie, with a crumb crust that sets in your freezer, features a filling you assemble in your food processor, with a hand mixer or in a saucepan on the stove top.
The crust is a combination of melted butter, cookie crumbs and a few tablespoons of sugar. Once put together, the sandy mixture is evenly pressed into your pie plate and kept in the freezer while you assemble the filling, which can range from softened cream cheese and whipped cream (or Cool Whip!), a no-bake cheesecake filling, a comforting pudding or softened ice cream.
To top it all off, literally and figuratively, a generous crown of freshly whipped cream, flavoured and sweetened, or not, is non-negotiable.
NO-BAKE COCONUT CREAM PIE
With its crispy chocolate cookie crust (easily made in a food processor), creamy coconut pudding filling and a generous topping of billowy coconut-whipped cream sprinkled with crunchy toasted coconut, this “make-ahead” pie is guaranteed to convert even the most diehard fruit pie fan over to team no-bake cream pie.
Make Ahead: The pie can be made and refrigerated up to 24 hours before topping with whipped cream and serving.
Storage Notes: Leftover pie can be loosely covered and refrigerated for up to three days.
FOR THE CRUST
One and half cups (200 grammes) very fine chocolate cookie crumbs (from about 29 cookies, such as Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers, finely ground in a food processor, or crushed in a zip-top plastic bag with a rolling pin
Two tablespoons brown sugar
Six tablespoons (85 grammes) unsalted butter, melted and warm
Half teaspoon vanilla extract
FOR THE PUDDING
Three-quarter cup granulated sugar
Five tablespoons cornstarch
A rounded quarter teaspoon fine sea salt
One and half cups whole milk
Six tablespoons heavy cream
One and half cups unsweetened coconut milk
One egg, lightly beaten
One egg yolk, lightly beaten
Three-quarter cup shredded sweetened coconut
Two tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
Half teaspoon coconut extract
Quarter teaspoon vanilla extract
FOR THE WHIPPED CREAM
One and half cups (360 millilitres) heavy cream
Three tablespoons sugar
Half teaspoon coconut extract
Quarter cup sweetened shredded coconut, toasted, for decorating
Make the crust: Combine the chocolate cookie crumbs, sugar, butter and vanilla in a large bowl and mix with a flexible spatula (or your hands) until the butter and sugar are fully incorporated. It should be the consistency of wet sand. Transfer to a nine-inch pie plate and, using your hands, press the crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of the plate. Transfer to the freezer while you make the pudding.
Make the pudding: In a medium pot, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Whisk in the milk, heavy cream, coconut milk, egg and egg yolk; then add the shredded coconut and whisk again.
Transfer the pot to the stove top and cook the pudding over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens and begins to bubble, about 15 minutes.
Lower the heat to medium and continue to whisk, while the mixture bubbles, for one more minute. Remove from the heat, and whisk in the butter and extracts until combined.
Remove the crust from the freezer and pour the pudding into it. Using an offset spatula, smooth out the pudding’s surface; then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for four to six hours, until the pudding is cold to the touch and quite firm.
Make the whipped cream: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, or using a handheld mixer and a large bowl, combine the cream, confectioners’ sugar and extract and whisk on medium to medium-high speed until the cream forms medium peaks.
Remove the plastic wrap from the pudding and cover with the whipped cream, using an offset spatula or the back of a spoon to make decorative swirls. Sprinkle the toasted coconut on top, then slice with a serrated knife and serve.