Creating the custard is a bit of an art itself, but it is easily mastered if care in preparation is given. If one is adding hot milk to the egg mixture during prep, the key is to keep the mixture in motion. Motion allows the protein in the egg to coagulate without creating lumps. Always remember to use a heavy saucepan and cook the milk and eggs over low heat. (NOTE: Some recipes say to cook custard in a water bath - either way is fine.)
Where folks often go wrong is in the baking. It is ever so difficult to tell when a custard dish has cooked all the way through. To get it all right remember the following:
- Position oven rack in the lower third of the oven
- Start with a chilled crust before filling with custard
- Bake 50 - 60 minutes at 350 degrees until golden brown, or until pie "jiggles" slightly in the middle
- Cool on baking rack until pie reaches room temperature
- Place in refrigerator until fully chilled (at least 1 hour)
The crust will likely be pre-prepared (made from scratch) and spread in a shallow Pyrex pie plate.
Topping the dish is turbinado sugar, which is a raw sugar that's been steam cleaned. Its crystals are larger than white sugar crystals. When heated with a blowtorch the molasses flavor of the turbinado sugar crystals melts across the top of the custard. You know you've achieved your goal when with the first bite, the custard is chilled and the topping is slightly warm. So the key is to torch the sugar just before the dessert is ready to serve. (NOTE: The broiler may be necessary to achieve a more even browning of the sugar.)
The following is Chef Flay's recipe:
Coconut Custard Brulee Pie
Yields: One 9 or 10-inch pie
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening - cut into small pieces
4-6 tablespoons ice water
- Place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse 2 times. Add the butter and shortening and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the water, tablespoon by tablespoon, until the dough just starts to hold together. Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface and gently form into a disk. Cover with plastic wrap and let chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Roll the dough out into an 11-inch circle, 1/8-inch thick. Fit the dough into pie plate, trim off excess and flute the edges of the dough. Place the shell in the refrigerator while you prepare the custard.
5 large eggs
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut, lightly toasted
3 tablespoons turbinado sugar (Sugar in the Raw)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Position the oven rack in the lower third of the oven.
- Whisk together the eggs and sugar until pale. Whisk in the milk, coconut milk, vanilla and salt until combined. Stir in the coconut and pour the mixture into the prepared chilled crust. Place the pie on a baking sheet and bake for 50-60 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the pie jiggles slightly in the middle. Place on a baking rack until cooled to room temperature. Place in the refrigerator until chilled, at least 1 hour.
- Sprinkle the turbinado sugar evenly over the entire top of the pie and run a blowtorch over the top until golden brown. Serve immediately. If you do not have a blowtorch, preheat the broiler of your oven and place the pie, on a baking sheet, under the broiler for 30-45 seconds.