Coconut Caramel Cream Pie
For the crust:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp sugar
2/3 cup chilled unsalted butter
4 tbsp ice water
For the coconut custard filling:
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup plus 2 tsp cornstarch
3 cups of milk (1 can of coconut milk + enough milk to equal 3 cups)
3/4 cups sugar, plus 1 tbsp
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp butter
3/4 cup finely shredded coconut
For the caramel layer:
1-3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/2/ cup chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans
For the meringue:
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp water
4 egg whites, room temperature
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
To make the crust, add the flour, salt and sugar to a food processor, and blend together. Add the chilled butter cubes and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. With the processor running, add the chilled water one tablespoon at a time until the dough forms into loose ball. Form the dough into a disc and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour. On a floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/8 inch circle and transfer to a 9-inch pie plate. Refrigerate another 30 minutes.
Prick the crust with a fork, line the crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights. Bake 20 minutes in a 350 degree oven until golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack.
To make the filling, whisk the egg yolks in a bowl and set aside. Stir cornstarch, sugar, salt together in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the milk carefully to avoid lumps. Cook, stirring constantly over medium heat. Let it boil one minute, and then add half the mixture into the yolks while whisking to temper the yolks. Add the mixture back into the saucepan and cook again to boiling for another minute. Remove from heat. Add the vanilla and butter. After the filling has cooled (about 30 minutes), cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours until set.
To make the caramel, place cream in a small bowl. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean and then also add the bean. Set aside. Stir sugar, corn syrup, and water in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with a wet pastry brush. It will thicken and turn deeper in color. After about 5 to 6 minutes, it should be deep amber in color. Don’t let it get too dark. If it starts to smell burnt, immediately remove pan from heat. Gradually add vanilla cream, while continuously whisking. The mixture will bubble vigorously. Whisk over medium heat until smooth and thick, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in butter and salt. Strain into a heatproof bowl. Place in refrigerator to cool completely. Once cool, drizzle a layer of the caramel into the cooled pie crust and sprinkle a layer of toasted pecans.
Remove the coconut filling from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. Spread the filling into the crust on top of the caramel and pecans.
To make the meringue, combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil until all the sugar has dissolved, and turn heat to low. Using a mixer, beat egg whites until frothy. Add in the cream of tartar and beat at high speed until egg whites reach soft peaks. Carefully, with the mixer turned down, stream in sugar syrup and beat to medium stiff peaks.
Spoon meringue onto pie filling and make sure to completely seal the edges with the crust, leaving no filling exposed.
Bake for 8-10 minutes in a 350 degree oven until the meringue is lightly browned.