August 17, 2012
This is the first thing that I’ve ever made with fresh red currants. If it’s any indication, I have a talent for working with them. If it isn’t, I’ve at least created one kick ass pie.
As soon as I saw the currants I had the idea to use them to top a classic chess pie. I figured that the tart berries would go well with the kind of sweet, buttery custard that fills the classic southern dessert. By the time I made it home though, my mind had wandered. To buttermilk pie. Then to crack pie. And finally to coconut cream pie.
Don’t they all sound like they’d go well with red currants? I couldn’t choose.
So I didn’t.
I wanted to make something with a pronounced coconut flavor, but not the jiggly, flan-like custard of a traditional coconut cream pie. Instead, I craved the thicker gooey texture of crack pie (which is famed baker Christina Tosi’s genius version of a chess pie).
Butter, sugar, eggs, coconut—that’s basically all I’d need for the filling. It was just a matter of getting the proportions right and also achieving the right level of sweetness and coconut flavor to balance the currants.
I got to work.
The first pie didn’t set right and was too sweet.
The second had the right texture but wasn’t sweet enough.
The third pie was perfect.
The fourth—a second pass of the third—confirmed that I’d figured it out.
And my Gooey Coconut Pie with Red Currants was born. I hope you will welcome her into your home (and maybe cook with fresh red currants for the first time, too?). I promise that she’ll treat you right.
Gooey Coconut Pie with Red Currants
(can be shared with kids 12+ mos)*
makes one 9″ pie
Your favorite pie crust, enough for one 9″ single crust pie
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
3 tablespoons coconut butter** (you can substitue 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled)
3/4 cup granulated sugar***
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or the resin scraped from inside 1/2 of a vanilla bean
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup red currants, washed***
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out pie dough and line a 9″ pie pan. Place in refrigerator until step 5.
2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together melted butter and coconut butter. Add sugar and and salt; stir to combine well.
3. Add eggs, egg yolk and vanilla. Stir to combine well.
4. Stir in coconut and flour.
5. Pour filling into prepared pie pan. Place in oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove pie from oven and scatter the top with currants. One cup is not enough to cover the entire top of the pie (on purpose), so think about using the currants to create a simple, pretty design. Place the pie back in the oven and continue cooking for another 40-50 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool before serving.
*Note: While there is nothing in this that is unsafe for younger children, I recommend it beginning at 12 months due to the high sugar content. No matter how old your eaters, be sure to serve age-appropraite portions. A little of this sweet treat goes a long way for little ones.
**Note: Coconut butter is not the same as coconut oil. Rather, it’s a spread made from whole coconut flesh pureed with some coconut oil. I love having it around to put on toast, use in peanut butter sandwiches, and so on. If you don’t want to buy some, you can make this pie with just plain, unsalted butter. It will lose a little depth of coconut flavor, but it’s not a huge deal.
***Note: This custard isn’t that sweet, which is why I use so few currants. I prefer it this way, but you can bump the sugar up to 1 full cup. If you do this, you may want to consider using 1 1/2 cups of currants. If you like your pies very sweet, bump up the sugar and keep the amount of currants down. No matter how you go, this is yummy! It’s just a matter of taste.