Every so often, I get a hankering for coconut cream pie. While I sometimes feel like puttering about enough to make a meringue pie, I usually just make my nice and easy coconut cream pie, which takes advantage of cook-and-serve pudding mix and Cool Whip Lite (‘though you could, of course, whip up some light cream or regular cream if you preferred). Even though I make ours reduced-fat and with no-added-sugar (only what’s in the coconut), it has that rich coconut taste, so it’s not something I make as regularly as some of my other desserts. But last Friday, I had a hankering, so I made one up. (Never mind the dates on the pictures.)
Now, I don’t know about you, but whenever I think of coconut cream pie, I think of perky Mary Ann from the TV show “Gilligan’s Island.” Even on a desert island, she managed to cook and bake up all kinds of delicious things. However, I bet you didn’t realize that the Mary Ann we came to know and love didn’t start out that way! (Go on, take 44 seconds out of your life and learn about a “Mary Ann” who wouldn’t have been called “Mary Ann” and who *gasp* would have been a blonde!)
How Mary Ann ever managed to whip up coconut cream pies — and so many other delights! — while on a deserted island, we’ll never know, but I know for a fact she never whipped one up as easily as this one!
I came up with this recipe to give me the rich taste of coconut cream pie, but with less carbs, less sugar, and fewer calories. Toward this end, I use graham cracker crust instead of a more traditional flour crust, no-sugar-added cook and serve vanilla pudding mix (you can use instant, but the cook and serve has a richer flavor, I think), and some light Cool Whip on top. I also reduced the amount of flaked coconut from my more traditional recipe.
I can make the filling (sugar-free) from scratch, but then, unless I want to go ahead and make a meringue for it, I’ve got some egg whites left over that I feel honor-bound to find a use for — which, as I’ve never developed a taste for egg white omelets, is a bit of a challenge for me.
Also, I have seen sugar-free flaked coconut in stores of late, but I’ve not tried it. It felt — and looked — quite dry and flavorless in the bag. So while there is sugar in this recipe from the flaked coconut (as well as a bit from the graham cracker crumbs), I’ve not found it bothersome to my own blood-sugar levels so long as I’m conscientious about when I eat it and how much. But we’re all different and we all process our foods differently, so if you’re concerned, you may want to try it with unsweetened coconut flakes instead.
It’s so easy and yet so yummy, you’ll make Mary Ann jealous! 😉
Easy Coconut Cream Pie (Makes one 9″ pie)
- 1 graham cracker crust (You can make your own — it’s easy! — or you can purchase one)
- 2 packages (4 servings EACH) no-sugar-added cook and serve vanilla pudding mix (you can use instant if you prefer, but the cook and serve will have a richer taste)
- 3 cups milk (skim or 1%)
- 2/3 to 3/4 cup flaked coconut
- Lightly toasted coconut (approximately 2 to 4 tablespoons) for topping
To make the pie:
1. If making it yourself, prepare your graham cracker crust.
2. In a medium-sized saucepan, stir pudding mixes into 3 cups of milk. Heat, stirring almost constantly, over medium heat until it begins to thicken and comes to a light bubble/boil. Cook and stir constantly for one minute, reducing heat as necessary to keep from sticking and/or boiling over. Remove from heat and stir in 2/3 to 3/4 cup flaked coconut.
3. Pour into graham pie crust.
4. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate until chilled.
5. Before serving, lightly toast a bit of coconut either in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat or in the toaster oven or oven at 350F or so, watching closely and stirring as needed to keep from burning. Remove cling wrap, top pie with some light Cool Whip, and sprinkle toasted coconut on top.
6. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.
It smells — and tastes! — so yummy, you’ll be dancing ’round your kitchen, singing “Mary Ann.” 🙂 (Go on! Watch it! It’s a 145 seconds that will make you smile 🙂 )