Coconut Cream Pie

A coconut cream pie.

A taste of tropical flavor meets custard-filled Midwestern homebakes – behold the glory of the Coconut Cream Pie. Granny always did have an adventurous streak, whether it was playing bridge on Sunday or incorporating exotic fruits into her pie recipes. This pie features a smooth creamy filling topped with a beautiful crown of golden meringue and toasted coconut flakes.

Reaching the perfect texture for a meringue can be a challenge. Granny makes it simple by using three different stiffening agents – sugar, vanilla, and cream of tartar. Each helps the meringue to take and hold its distinctive fluffy shape.


  • 2 cups milk
  • 23 cup sugar
  • 13 cup flour
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 cup confectioners shredded coconut
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • dash of salt

  • Meringue
  • 2 egg whites
  • 14 cup sugar
  • 14 teaspoon vanilla
  • 14 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • sprinkle of salt
  • Method

    • 1. Make one of Granny's all-purpose pie crusts.

    • 2. Preheat oven to 325 F (160 C). Separate eggs, saving the whites for the meringue. Beat the yolks. Add the sugar and flour, then mix until smooth.

    • 3. Heat the milk over the medium heat. Add the egg mixture and cook until thick. When the mixture has thickened, add the coconut, vanilla, and salt. Save a little bit of the coconut to sprinkle on the meringue.

    • 4. To make the meringue, let the egg whites come to room temperature, then beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, vanilla, salt, and cream of tartar. The peaks will continue to stiffen, beat to your preference.

    • 5. Pour filling into pie shell. Using a rubber spatula, distribute meringue evenly around edge then center of pie to keep it from sinking into filling. Make sure meringue attaches to pie crust to prevent shrinking. Use spoon to create peaks all over meringue. Sprinkle remaining coconut shreds over meringue. Bake pie until meringue is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature.

    The Timeless Appeal of the Coconut Cream Pie

    The origins of the Coconut Cream Pie trace back to the 19th century when desiccated coconut became widely available, largely due to the efforts of Franklin Baker, a flour miller from Philadelphia. In 1894, Baker received a shipment of fresh coconuts from Cuba as payment for flour he had exported. Seeing an untapped market for coconut products, he bought a small business on the brink of closure and entered the coconut business. By 1897, his venture was so successful that he sold his flour business to focus on coconut products, leading to the establishment of the Franklin Baker Company.

    The original recipe, advertised by the Bakers in the 1920s, featured a meringue-topped coconut cream pie. However, over time, the fluffy meringue was replaced by a layer of whipped cream, resulting in the pie we know and love today.

    As the years passed, the Coconut Cream Pie continued to evolve and adapt to changing tastes and preferences. The basic elements of the pie remained the same - a buttery crust, a creamy coconut filling, and a whipped cream topping. However, variations started to appear. Some recipes added a layer of chocolate or a sprinkle of nuts for added texture and flavor. Others experimented with the crust, using graham crackers or cookies instead of the traditional pastry.

    Despite these variations, the essence of the Coconut Cream Pie remained the same - a delightful blend of creamy, sweet, and tropical flavors that transport you to a sunny beach with every bite. Today, the Coconut Cream Pie is not just a dessert; it's a piece of culinary history, a testament to the ingenuity of bakers like Franklin Baker, and a beloved tradition that continues to bring joy to many.

    From its humble beginnings in a small Philadelphia business to its status as a classic American dessert, the Coconut Cream Pie has indeed come a long way. And as long as there are people who appreciate its unique combination of flavors and textures, the Coconut Cream Pie will continue to evolve and delight future generations.