This creamy, coconut pie from Boston's Flour Bakery and Café was inspired by the dessert menu at Myers + Chang, the bakery owners' pan-Asian restaurant. Joanne Chang, the co-owner and pastry chef of Flour, says that coconut and lime are common Southeast Asian flavors so she made them into this tart topped with whipped cream, which became one of the most popular desserts at the restaurant and a popular holiday pie at Flour.
Adapted from "Flour" by Joanne Chang and Christie Matheson.
In a small saucepan, combine the cream and lime zest over medium-high heat and bring just to a boil. Remove from the heat, pour intoa small airtight container, let cool, and refrigerate overnight.
In a medium saucepan, combine the coconut milk and milk and scald over medium-high heat (bubbles start to form around the edge of the pan, but the liquid is not boiling). While the milks are heating, in a small bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar and flour. (Mixing the flour with sugar will prevent the flour from clumping when you add it to the eggs.) In a medium-heat proof bowl, whisk together the egg and egg yolks until blended, then slowly whisk in the sugar-flour mixture. The mixture will be thick and pasty.
Slowly pour the hot milk mixture into the egg-sugar mixture, a little at a time, whisking constantly. When all of the milk mixture has been incorporated, return the contents of the bowl to the saucepan, and return the saucepan to medium heat. Cook, whisking vigorously and continuously, for 4–5 minutes, or until the mixture thickens and comes to a boil. Make sure you get the whisk into the corners of the saucepan and that you are scraping the bottom often. First, the mixture will be thin and frothy; as it gets hotter and the eggs start to cook, it will get thicker and start to steam. Eventually, it will start to boil, but because you will be whisking continuously (don't forget to do that!) and because the mixture is so thick, it will be hard for you to know when it is boiling. Once it is thick, stop whisking for a few seconds and watch the surface to see if it starts to blub up. If it goes blub blub, you will know that it has come to a boil. When that happens, whisk even more vigorously for 30 seconds, then immediately take the custard off the stove and pour it through a fine-mesh sieve into a heatproof pitcher. Whisk in the vanilla, salt and ¾ cup (90 grams) of the toasted coconut. Pour into the baked pie shell and refrigerate, uncovered, for about 4 hours, or until the filling is set.
Fit a stand mixer with the whip attachment (or use a handheld mixer) and whip together the lime zest-cream mixture, the confectioners' sugar, and the cornstarch until stiff peaks form.
Pile the whipped cream on top of the coconut filling, spreading it to the edges of the pie. Decorate the pie with the remaining ¼ cup (30 grams) toasted coconut.