October 2, 2013

Coconut Cream Pie

by IsaChandra

Makes one 9 inch pie

Coconut Cream Pie

“Another pie recipe? To what do I owe the pleasure?!” – you

Well, I’m really occupied working on stuff for the release of Isa Does It, but I still want to give you a little somethin somethin! And since pie season is here, I figure why not put up some of Vegan Pie In The Sky’s greatest hits? This time, I won’t ask you to roll out a crust, so hopefully you will still like me.

This pie was a serious tester favorite. A creamy cloud of coconut heaven! It’s one of those pies that is even better the next day, and even better the day after that, once the flavors have had a chance to “marry.” So make it on a Wednesday and serve it on a Saturday, if you manage to keep yourself from sneaking into the fridge in the middle of the night and smush your entire face into the deliciousness. (Actually, use the tip below so that you can have a secret chef’s taste without destroying the pie!)

Happy piemaking, everyone!

Recipe Notes

~So this recipe calls for agar powder, which is basically vegan gelatin that comes from seaweed (instead of all that gross stuff.) You can’t replace it or leave it out because it’s what makes the filling set. You can order it, or find it at your local Asian market (Telephone brand is awesome.) And it’s really worth having, I promise!

~To answer your next question: I don’t suggest replacing the powder with flakes unless you have experience with it already. And, no, you can not crush the flakes up into a powder and get the same results. Why not? I dunno! But it didn’t work for either Terry or I, nor did it work for the testers. So if you want to do any replacing, it’s not impossible, but I can’t guarantee it will work for you.

~There may be a little leftover filling, so just pour it into a cup and let it set. Now you’ll have a creamy taste for yourself without having to destroy the pie.

~For a variation, try Coconut Lime Cream Pie. In place of 1/4 cup almond milk, use 1/4 cup fresh lime juice. Along with the shredded coconut, add 2 teaspoons lime zest and mix.

For the crust:
10 oz vegan vanilla cookies (should equal 1 3/4 cups once processed. Use gluten free varieties for a gluten free pie.)
2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons melted coconut oil (refined or virgin)
1 tablespoon plain non-dairy milk (I prefer almond)

For the filling:
1/2 cup cashews, soaked in water for at least two hours and up to overnight
1 13 oz can coconut milk at room temperature
3/4 cup plain unsweetened almond milk (or non-dairy milk of your choice)
1/2 teaspoon agar agar powder
2/3 cups sugar
3 tablespoons coconut oil (refined or virgin)
1 1/2 cups shredded unsweetened coconut
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon coconut extract (optional, another teaspoon vanilla will work, too)

For garnish: Blackberries and coconut flakes

Prepare the crust:
Preheat oven to 350 F and have ready a 9 inch pie dish.

In a blender, pulse the cookies into fine crumbs. They should measure out to be 1 3/4 cups. (You don’t have to clean the blender after this, you can just get out as many of the crumbs as you can, and then proceed with the filling recipe which follows.)

In a mixing bowl combine cookie crumbs and sugar, then drizzle in melted coconut oil. Mix to moisten the crumbs, then drizzle in the milk and mix again to form a crumbly dough. Use another tablespoon of milk if it seems very dry. Transfer to a 9-inch pie plate and press crumbs on the sides then work your way down to the bottom.

Bake for 10 minutes, then remove from oven and set aside.

Make the filling:
Drain the cashews and place them in a food processor or blender. Blend with the coconut milk until totally smooth, scraping down the sides occasionally. This can take up to 5 minutes depending on the strength of your machine, but give your blender a break every minute or so, and check frequently that the mixture feels smooth and not grainy.

In the meantime, stir together the the milk, agar agar, and sugar in a small (2 quart) sauce pot.

Bring mixture to a boil, stirring pretty consistently. Once boiling, lower the heat so that you’re just getting small bubbles. Let cook for about 5 minutes, then add the coconut oil and mix until melted.

With the blender running, stream the hot mixture in until thoroughly blended, then add the extracts and pulse a few times to combine. Stir in the shredded coconut, but don’t blend it again, just mix it with a spatula – you want the coconut to remain intact. (It’s important that the mixture goes in hot, and is poured into the crust immediately, to prevent it from setting up before it’s in the pie. )

Transfer mixture to the prepared pie crust (being careful not to overfill) and refrigerate until set, at least 5 hours. The filling is very thin at first, but that is how it’s supposed to be, so don’t worry, it will thicken as it sets. Once set, slice and serve! Top with coconut flakes and a berry, if you like. If not using immediately, wrap tightly in plastic wrap for up to 4 days.

  • October 2, 2013 at 5:29 pm: Carrie

    Alright, it’s official, I’m in love with you!!! Thanks! Seems so obvious to me now, when making a coconut cream pie, use COCONUT milk.. duh!

  • October 2, 2013 at 5:32 pm: sharon

    I’m a coconut fiend so this is ight up my alley! This soubds delicious!

  • October 2, 2013 at 5:35 pm: NitNat

    I think I love you!

  • October 2, 2013 at 5:44 pm: Lori

    Is there a brand of coconut extract that you recommend? All I can seem to find in stores is imitation (which I don’t want) and the reviews of natural extracts I find online are very mixed.

    • October 2, 2013 at 5:56 pm: IsaChandra

      I believe I use Frontier usually. But I’m out of it right now.

  • October 2, 2013 at 5:46 pm: Miranda

    Thanks for a “cream” pie that DOESN’T use tofu!

  • October 2, 2013 at 6:13 pm: Stephen Lukas

    I’m gay and I love you. Not as much as I love coconut, but pretty close.

  • October 2, 2013 at 6:21 pm: SM

    Can I use regular milk instead of Almond milk? Pie consistency would change it if I use regular milk? I am vegetarian I don’t eat meat and eggs but I use dairy products. Pie

  • October 2, 2013 at 6:23 pm: SM

    Pie picture is mouth watering!! YUM!

  • October 2, 2013 at 6:30 pm: Naomi

    I wonder…if I used chocolate soy milk? It would be a mounds bar, right??

    • October 2, 2013 at 6:46 pm: IsaChandra

      I would use either chocolate cookies for the crust, orrrr a chocolate drizzle once it has set.

  • October 2, 2013 at 6:31 pm: Naomi

    I mean. I could put almonds in the crust and go all Almond Joy.

  • October 2, 2013 at 6:35 pm: Erica

    Om nom nom nom

  • October 2, 2013 at 7:50 pm: Sarojini

    Awesome recipe! Looks delicious :)

  • October 2, 2013 at 8:02 pm: Natalie M

    Can tapioca flour or cornstartch be substituted for agar agar powder?

  • October 2, 2013 at 8:04 pm: Natalie M

    can tapioca flour or corn starch be substituted for agar agar powder? Thanks!

    • October 2, 2013 at 8:12 pm: IsaChandra

      Nope. I already said it in the notes. No subs for the agar.

  • October 2, 2013 at 8:26 pm: Kathleen

    This going to make my whole freaking weekend!

  • October 2, 2013 at 8:31 pm: Olympia

    I really prefer toasted coconut rather than raw, brings out the sweetness and nuttiness. I know this will work for the topping part, but am afraid if using toasted coconut in the pie it will just look like dirty shreddings has taken over the filling. What do you think? Is it worth taking the risk?

  • October 2, 2013 at 8:44 pm: Kara

    Oh, wow. That looks seriously good!

  • October 2, 2013 at 10:16 pm: Molly

    I have a hard time finding vegan vanilla cookies. Do you have any recommendations?

  • October 2, 2013 at 10:17 pm: Jules

    What kind of cookies do you recommend? Store-bought? Homemade? Anything specific? Thanks!

    • October 3, 2013 at 12:58 am: IsaChandra

      Oh, storebought for sure! There are always nilla wafer type vegan cookies at Whole Foods.

  • October 3, 2013 at 1:16 am: Rebecca

    I can’t believe that I own Vegan Pie in the Sky but have not made this yet! Thank you for bringing this oversight to my attention :)

  • October 3, 2013 at 5:47 am: Rachel

    Not to obsess over the agar, but did anyone try taking the same amount of agar flakes by weight as the powder? Volume measurements would be problematic but weight should be fine…

  • October 3, 2013 at 5:03 pm: sara

    YUM. This looks insanely good…I’m hungry! :)

  • October 3, 2013 at 7:08 pm: Shel@PeachyPalate

    You’d need about 1.5 tbsp of the flakes and it will work no bother! I’ve made something similar. You need 1 tbsp for every cup of liquid with the flakes.

    • October 4, 2013 at 4:20 am: IsaChandra

      It won’t work with the recipe as written, though. They will need to boil for a real long time, plus soak before hand. And then the liquid gets reduced and you need to measure out extra. That’s why I say only to do it if you have worked with agar flakes before. And I use twice the amount of agar flakes to powder.

  • October 4, 2013 at 3:40 am: Kathleen P

    This looks amazing! I’m planning my meal for Canadian Thanksgiving (not even two weeks away now!), and this along with a couple of other recipes I have planned with get my extended family to think twice about making any smart aleck comments

  • October 4, 2013 at 2:58 pm: Sheindal

    OK, so I know this is kind of against the whole feel of the recipe, (sorry!) but if I left out the shredded coconut, would the pie still set the same do you think, or would I need to sub something, and if so, any ideas what?! I really like the sound of this, but I don’t like coconut. Coconut milk, cream, oil, they are all fine and I cook with them loads, but as soon as I get into actual pieces of coconut territory, well…Any ideas gratefully received!

  • October 4, 2013 at 5:44 pm: Ruth

    do you recommend regular coconut milk or will it set with the lite version too?

  • October 4, 2013 at 9:55 pm: chels

    my flavors never marry, they only ever partner domestically

  • October 5, 2013 at 3:35 am: Saro

    You are so awesome, thank you! When I’m feeling blue I just look up your recipes and read them along with your witty, down-home, vegan commentary :) and I always feel comforted. xoxo

  • October 6, 2013 at 2:40 am: Natasha

    Just made this yesterday & it is devine! I added a 1/2 teaspoon of cacao powder to half of the batch and love it. Oh, I divided the pie into 12 miniature pies, half regular and half chocolate. Thanks for the recipe!

  • October 6, 2013 at 3:20 pm: Heather

    My son is allergic to nuts. Can I substitute sunflower seeds for the cashews? PS love your site!!

  • October 6, 2013 at 11:13 pm: Kate

    Looks delicious! When do you add the extracts?

  • October 9, 2013 at 2:48 pm: Amanda M.

    Hey, Isa, this looks grand! And no tofu! Do you think it might work with light coconut milk? I’ve recently lost about 20 lbs and am trying to be smart about nutrition. I’d like to try a lower-fat version, but I don’t want to ruin it! Thanks :)

    • October 10, 2013 at 4:53 am: IsaChandra

      Honestly, this is really fattening, even if you used lite. Which I don’t think would work. I’d just do a different dessert!

  • October 9, 2013 at 10:54 pm: Andrea Cole

    OMG that looks delicious. Coconut is one of my favorite things for those sweet cravings.

  • October 10, 2013 at 10:04 pm: Tiffany

    Thank you, Thank you for this recipe! we made it for my mom’s Birthday and she loved it!

  • October 15, 2013 at 4:21 pm: Ruth

    Made this for Thanksgiving and it is DIVINE. Need to buy pie book!

  • October 19, 2013 at 1:33 am: Betty

    I’m allergic to nuts. Could I substitute soaked sunflower seeds?

  • October 19, 2013 at 10:24 pm: Emily

    I made this with unripe-foraged-lemons-I-thought-were-limes and a gluten-free vanilla sandwich cookie crust. Superb!

  • October 31, 2013 at 12:09 pm: Susanne

    This sounds delicious! But there’s no vegan cookies where I live (other than the ones I make myself). Could you recommend a substitute? Thanks!

  • November 27, 2013 at 12:02 pm: Carolyn Marks

    This recipe is setting as we speak! Hope so much it turns out like the beautiful picture :) and that all of my thanksgiving guests enjoy! Ps just wanted to say that I’m such a fan of yours. You’re the reason I love cooking!

  • December 1, 2013 at 8:29 pm: Julie N-T

    Just made this pie for my daughter’s 16th birthday and it was awesome. I followed the recipe as written with the exception of topping with a vegan chocolate ganache (because everything’s better with chocolate, right?).

    Our family LOVES you, Isa. I have almost all of your cookbooks except “Isa Does It” which is the number one request on my Christmas list (really). After years of modifying recipes to veganize, I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful it was to receive “Veganomicon” as a gift from my husband a few years ago. Thanks for sharing your talent. And Happy Hanukkah!

  • December 26, 2013 at 12:25 am: K3n

    Got up @ 2:30, in fridge by 5am. Holiday dinner with my parents. I went to your schools! I went to your churches! I went to your institutional learning facilities…AND YOU JUST ATE VEGAN COCONUT CREAM PIE! Isa and Terri Peace, Love and Punk Points!

  • February 10, 2014 at 6:08 am: Sarah

    The taste of this pie was good – but the texture was off, and I couldn’t eat even a whole slice in a sitting. I think it was the agar that didn’t work for me…or the mental comparison to the non-vegan french coconut pies of my past. What a shame. It might just be me, as many people seem to have enjoyed it,

  • February 12, 2014 at 6:45 am: Amy

    Delicious! I had mine with sliced bananas on top!

  • February 15, 2014 at 12:11 am: Alex

    Did we ever get an answer to the toasted coconut question?? Olympia asked if the pie would just look ‘dirty’ which is my concern, but I LOVES me some toasted coconut…can I can I can I? Making for a dinner party so afraid to commit a Vegan faux pas- help!!

  • March 30, 2014 at 9:20 pm: Esther J

    I made this yesterday as it’s written with berries, toasted coconut flake garnish, and all for a gathering of my family (all non-vegans except me) and it was a hit. My mother was on a dessert fast and because she is a coconut fiend (understatement), I decided to make this to break her fast. She loved it! She kept saying it was so “light”-tasting, and I had to keep assuring her that very unfortunately it wasn’t, lol. (What she mistook for lightness no doubt was its lack of sugar to the excess.)

    Anyway, thanks a ton! It was well received. Next time I’ll try making it in a deep dish pan for a thicker pie and less leftover filling (but really, that’s a good problem to have; I’m not complaining at all.) ;o)

  • April 29, 2014 at 9:19 pm: Jacki

    thanks for the great recipe! I did it totally wrong (on purpose) and it was fantastic. I only had a couple of hours to put this together so I used a graham cracker crust. Then, I only had the agar powder with sugar in it (like jello, but unflavored) so I used half a package of that, for the right amount of sugar and a little bit too much agar. then, I had Trader Joe’s coconut cream instead of coconut milk. I used that, so I omitted the coconut oil. It set up at room temp in about 30min but I refrigerated it and had it an hour and half later. It wasn’t super pudding-like but still soft and yummy, but firm enough that it sliced super neatly. :) pretty pleased that my half-assing paid off! Thanks again!

  • June 9, 2014 at 3:55 pm: Suehayes

    Looks delicious. Going to make this for my boyfriends bday.
    He loves pie

  • June 12, 2014 at 3:48 pm: Robert Grillo

    Wonderful recipe! Thank you so much. Question: does agar powder lose its effectiveness over time? I thought the pie filling could be a bit firmer. Perhaps this is just a matter of preference in which case I could increase the amount to perhaps a teaspoon?