allergy friendly, baking from scratch, comfort food, food is love, gluten free baking, gluten free pie crust, housewife, mother of boys, nut-free baking, recipe, sugar free baking, sugar free custard, sugar free whipped cream
Gluten free pie pastry cradles rich, sugar free coconut custard topped with a billowing cloud of whipped cream and unsweetened coconut before being sprinkled with even more toasted, unsweetened coconut.
After nailing down a really great gluten free pie crust, I may or may not have wanted to see how far I could push the baking envelope by omitting key ingredients. I’m known to be a little sassy in the kitchen at times–what’s the worst that can happen?! At worst, I’m out some ingredients and have a big mess to clean up. At best, I’ve made something awesome and have a big mess to clean up.
Cleaning up after myself in the kitchen is my purgatory. I’m sure of it!
In all seriousness, I developed this recipe for my dad. My dad has an immense affinity for coconut cream pie–the more coconut, the better! However as a diabetic, coconut cream pie really shouldn’t be a part of his diet. My dad is very careful about monitoring his carb intake and balancing his diet. The man eats more vegetables in a day than most people eat in a month! That said, in the spirit of celebration and special occasions, we usually celebrate my dad’s birthday with Bonus Mom’s incredible coconut cream pie. However, this year Dad & Bonus Mom were travelling north to visit us for his birthday, so I was on Pie Duty. Gee…if only I liked to bake cream pies. Kidding!
I should probably mention that my dad has been working very hard over the past year at maintaining a daily exercise routine–rain, shine, or snow. He’s to the point that he’s quite fit, and has lost a considerable amount of weight as a bonus. I knew that one slice of pie wasn’t going to undo all of that hard work, but I wanted to try to bake a pie that was a little kinder to his blood sugar levels.
I think I managed a pretty darn good pie, if I do say so myself! More importantly, my dad proclaimed that I “…could make this pie again!” Trust me, Friends. That’s high praise in Dad-speak!
I went with a gluten free crust to reduce the most obvious source of carbohydrates. I then consulted with a few of my gluten free/low-carb friends before developing a Stevia (plant based) sweetened pastry cream that’s similar in taste and texture to a fully sugared pastry cream. I even went so far as to consult my expert pie baking friends at Pie Nation on facebook to see if any of them had played around with sugar free pastry cream. None of them had, but all whom I consulted warned me that Stevia can be bitter when heated, so I should tread carefully. I found that since I used so little Stevia in these recipes, I didn’t notice any bitterness at all.
Are you feeling a little adventurous, Friends? Hooray! Let’s bake a Gluten Free Sugar Free Coconut Cream Pie!
Start by blind baking the gluten free pie crust. I think the only thing worthy of noting here is that I did not “dock” the bottom of the crust before baking it, as I would have a traditional pie crust. I didn’t have any issues with the crust puffing up in weird places like a traditional pie crust.
The sugar free pastry cream is made much like it’s fully sugared cousin, which I’ve explained in detail in the recipe section of this post. For visual step-by-step instructions for making pastry cream, please refer to this post. Just know that at some point the pastry cream will look curdled in appearance. Don’t worry! It’ll be fine! Just keep stirring and it should come back together again.
Spoon the Sugar Free Pastry Cream it into a tempered glass bowl that is resting in a larger tempered glass bowl of ice. Place a sheet of plastic wrap directly on to the surface of the custard before placing it all in the refrigerator to cool completely.
While waiting for the pastry cream to cool, go ahead and whip the cream with just a sprinkle of Stevia. Once the pastry cream has cooled, give it a good whisk to smooth it out, and then fold a cup of the whipped cream into the pastry cream.
After the whipped cream has been incorporated, fold in a good amount of unsweetened coconut flakes. I realize that most packaged coconut shreds are sweetened, but I was able to find this unsweetened variety in the baking aisle of my small town grocery store. If you can’t get unsweetened coconut from your usual grocer, try a food co-op or bulk food store.
Spoon the coconut cream into to cooled pie shell, leveling it to the perimeter of the pie shell.
Dollop the remaining whipped cream over top of the filling to seal the pie, ensuring that the pastry cream is completely covered. Sprinkle a little toasted unsweetened coconut over the whipped cream before popping the entire pie in the the refrigerator for two to three hours to set.
Share a fat slice of Gluten Free Sugar Free Coconut Cream Pie with your loved ones with special diets! They’ll love you for it.
(Keep scrolling for the recipes!)
Sugar Free Coconut Pastry Cream
Yield 2 ½ Cups
Pastry cream is a luxuriously creamy coconut custard that is excellent served simply as a pudding or custard, but is even more delightful as base for cream pie recipes, éclair or layer cake fillings.
Prep Time: 15 minutes, Cook Time: 10 minutes, Inactive Prep Time: 2 hours, Total Time: 2 hours 25 minutes
2 C. 2% Milk, divided
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp. coconut extract*
¼ C. plus 1 Tbs. cornstarch
4 large eggs
3 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into ¼-inch cubes
1 ¾ tsp. Stevia in the Raw
Also Required: two glass bowls (1 large + 1 medium) that nest together, ice, water for the ice bath cool down.
Fill the large glass bowl with ice, then add enough cold water to make an ice bath. Rest the medium glass bowl inside of the ice bath; set aside while preparing the pastry cream.
Pour 1 ½ cups of the milk into a medium saucepan with the vanilla and coconut extracts. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. The milk should be steaming hot with a ring of small bubbles around the interior of the pan, but not boiling. Keep an eye on the pot because if allowed to boil, the milk can quickly bubble over the sides of the pot.
While the milks are coming to simmer, whisk the remaining ½ cup of milk with the cornstarch until smooth. Add the eggs to that milk mixture, whisking to combine. By now the milk and extract mixture on the stove should be simmering.
For the rest of the recipe, a slow and easy hand is required, so as not to over-develop the binders in the eggs; a heavy hand will result in and overly gelatinous custard rather than a smooth pastry cream.
Slowly temper the egg mixture by drizzling the simmered milk mixture into it, whisking continuously, until at least half of the hot mixture has been incorporated—this will serve as the base for the custard. Pour the tempered egg mixture back into the pan before setting it over medium-low heat. As the custard heats, stir it slowly and continuously with a wooden spoon until it becomes thick and bubbly. (About 3 to 5 minutes.) At some point, the mixture will begin to appear curdled. This is normal! Just keep stirring and it should smooth out again. After such time, dip a clean spoon into the thickened custard. Draw a line through the bottom of the custard. The line should stay for several seconds before the custards fills it back in.
Remove the custard from the heat. Gently whisk in the Stevia and butter cubes until smooth. Transfer the pastry cream to the medium bowl resting over the ice bath, and cover the surface of the custard with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours (resting over the ice bath) until completely chilled.
Before serving or using in another recipe, whisk the pastry cream to smooth out the texture. Pastry cream may be kept tightly wrapped in the refrigerator for up to three days.
*Please Note: Sugar free pastry cream is slightly thicker than pastry cream made with granulated sugar, as it’s the granulated sugar forming syrup when heated that further softens the custard. Pastry cream can be flavored with the flavored extracts of choice by adjusting to taste.
Sugar Free, Gluten Free Coconut Cream Pie
Yield One 9-inch Pie
Gluten free pie pastry cradling rich, sugar free coconut custard topped with a billowing cloud of whipped cream and unsweetened coconut before being sprinkled with more unsweetened, toasted coconut.
Prep Time: 2 hours, 25 minutes, Cook (Chill) Time: 2 hours Total Time: 4 hours, 25 minutes (including chill time)
½ Recipe Gluten Free Pie Crust
1 Recipe Sugar Free Pastry Cream, well chilled
1 pint heavy whipping cream
¼ tsp. clear vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. Stevia in the Raw (1 small packet)
2/3 C. unsweetened coconut flakes, divided
Blind bake the gluten free pie crust according to directions. Allow the baked pie shell cool completely before proceeding.
Toast 2 tablespoons of the unsweetened coconut in a small skillet set over medium heat, stirring constantly, until lightly browned. Place the toasted coconut onto a small plate and set it aside to cool while tending to the filling.
Briefly whisk the chilled pastry cream until it loosens up a bit and becomes creamier in appearance; set aside. Vigorously whisk the heavy whipping cream with the clear vanilla and Stevia in the Raw in a chilled bowl, until soft peaks form. Gently fold 1 cup of the whipped cream into the pastry cream to combine. Fold the remaining (untoasted) unsweetened coconut into the pastry cream mixture until evenly distributed throughout the custard.
Spoon the coconut custard into the cooled pie shell, leveling it to the interior edges of the pie shell. Dollop the whipped cream over the coconut custard, smoothing the cream to the decorative edge of the pie shell; spend a little time sculpting the cream into a decorative pattern. Sprinkle the toasted coconut over top of the whipped cream. Chill the pie for 2 to 3 hours to give it time to set before slicing to serve.