There are many variations of this Southern classic. This recipe is my own version of a recipe featured in our local paper, from an Atlanta food writer who combined his mother’s recipe with one from a cookbook of Southern pies.
It uses buttermilk (a good way to use up any that might be sitting in the fridge) to make a dense coconut-filled base. It’s topped with enough sweetened whipped cream to make a top layer that fills the rest of the pie, keeping it light.
A garnish of toasted coconut covers any flaws and hints at what’s below.
Makes one 9-inch pie.
1/2 cup sugar (slightly more)
2 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. all-purpose plain flour
5 oz. buttermilk
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1 egg, well beaten
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
2/3 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened), plus more for garnish
1 9-inch pie crust (I used a pre-made frozen one and used it straight from the freezer)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 heaping tsp. sugar
Heat oven to 350F (175C) degrees.
In small bowl combine sugar and flour, using a fork to mix well. Add buttermilk, melted butter, beaten egg, and vanilla, and stir until mixed well and evenly. Stir in coconut.
Pour filling into pie crust. Place pie on baking sheet and bake approximately 30 minutes, until firm throughout and filling is slightly browned — but keep an eye on it toward the end.
As it bakes, put a handful of shredded coconut in a small pan and toast it on medium-low until browned, shaking the pan every couple of minutes to toast the flakes evenly. If you have a toaster oven, you can do this on a small sheet of foil and a regular setting, gently shaking the foil occasionally and removing the sheet as soon as the flakes are browned.
When pie is done, let cool on wire rack. Whip cream with sugar*, then spread with spatula over the cooled pie. Try to make it slightly higher than the edge of the crust. Sprinkle the toasted coconut on top. Tip: Sprinkle some at the edge to hide the gap between the whipped cream and pie crust.
*Start whipping the cream without the sugar. Once it is slightly thickened, that’s when you add the sugar. Then continue whipping until stiff.