As a child, I always looked forward to visiting my grandmother in Richmond, Virginia. My dad would pack me, my grandmother and sister in the car to take a trip a few miles down the road to the local market. This market had a bakery that was stocked with all kinds of scrumptious Southern gourmet treats. To name a few, there were cakes in all different flavors, packs of chocolate and vanilla frosted cupcakes, and various flavors of pies. My favorite gourmet treat was the Coconut Custard Pie. This pie had the flakiest crust and the most perfect coconut to custard ratio. The coconut layer on top glistened and when my teeth sank into it, it had a spongy-like texture. I remember my grandma being surprised that I loved coconut so young, since it surely is an acquired taste, especially for a child.
This Coconut Custard Pie was sold in two different ways: As a 9-inch whole pie and as a 4-count pack of miniature tarts. We would get a box of both. The whole pie was for the days ahead and the 4 miniature coconut custard pies were for the car ride home. The car ride back from the grocery store was only about 10 minutes, so I had time to eat at least two of the miniature pies. I’m sure if the car ride was longer then I would have eaten more than two.
I have channeled those fond Coconut Custard Pie memories into creating my own recipe. Instead of individual miniature circular shaped pies, like the ones from the market, I make mine into squares. I absolutely love a flaky and buttery flavored crust. These Coconut Custard Pie Squares consist of just that. The pie crust ingredients must be cold so it is best to use them straight out of the refrigerator. For mixing, you are more than welcome to use a food processor to mix all the ingredients together for your crust, but I prefer using my hands. I love the way this dough feels.
After making your pie crust dough, make sure you give it enough time to chill and rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. This is a pivotal step because it gives the shortening time to firm up and allows the flour to relax. Just remember, that you want this crust to be FLAKY and allowing the pie dough to chill will yield a delicious, melt-in-your-mouth flaky crust.
Now that we’ve discussed the crust, let’s delve into this creamy custard filling. While the crust is setting in the refrigerator, now is the perfect time to take out the ingredients for your filling. This will ensure that the filling ingredients come up to room temperature. Since chilling the dough takes 30 minutes, the ingredients should be room temperature by the time the dough comes out of the fridge. The custard is nice and fluffy and the coconut easily sinks into it. With every bite, you take, you get tastes of coconut and sweet custard.
Rolling the dough is easy. Simply flour a rolling pin and roll your dough out to be at least 10 inches in diameter and about ⅛ of an inch thick. Place in an 8×8 square pan and bake for 35 minutes on 375° F. Depending on how your oven cooks, you might have to bake this a few minutes longer, but of all the times that I have made this treat, mine has been ready in 35 minutes exactly.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool before serving. I find these pie squares to taste the best, and the closest to the ones that I would get with my grandmother when they are cold. I usually make these a day ahead and then chill them overnight so they will be extremely cold. Enjoy at the temperature that you like and go ahead and sink your teeth into one of these Coconut Custard Pie Squares along with a glass of milk.
Happy Baking & Eating!