This time of year magazines and catalogs seem to be filled with travel ideas, swimsuits, and straw hats. In the depths of winter, a lot of people are anxious to get away to somewhere sunny. While a vacation does sound exciting, I've learned that home is where I like to be. I think the most "tropical" place I've ever been was Virginia Beach, Virginia. I tiptoed into the ocean for a few minutes, and that was sufficient experience for me.
Tropical-flavored desserts are, however, within my comfort zone! And so I present this Banana Coconut Chocolate Pie, a marvelous pudding pie that offers a taste of the tropics, without the price of a plane ticket or getting sand in one's swimsuit. :)
I recently made this pie for a birthday party where it received rave reviews, so I thought I'd better write it down for future reference!
Cocoa Graham Cracker Crust
Here is a valuable thing I learned.. don't use chocolate graham crackers. They don't hold together as well as the honey graham crackers do. (I think they might be a little more granular and fragile in structure, due to a higher sugar content.) Instead, use cocoa to add chocolate flavor to a traditional graham cracker crust. Here's a link to the recipe.
1 1/2 batches of Betty Crocker's Vanilla Pudding recipe. Or 2 boxes of instant vanilla pudding mix should do the trick.
Self explanatory. :)
1 C. Heavy whipping cream
2 Tbsp. powdered sugar
splash of vanilla extract
Beat whipping cream using the whisk attachment on the mixer, until soft peaks form (don't go too far, or it'll start turning into butter!) As it is whisking, gradually sift in the powdered sugar.
I spread the coconut flakes in a small cake pan, with some "breathing" space so it all toasts at a similar rate. Bake on the top oven rack for about 5 minutes, then give the coconut a stir. Move the pan to the bottom rack and toast for another minute or two, tops.
Note: You can toast the coconut while the graham cracker crust is baking. Multi-task!
Dark Chocolate Shards
I used Hershey's Dark Chocolate Kisses to make the decorative chocolate shards.They did surprisingly well being melted in the microwave, and I was careful to use as little heat as possible. (Read my tips about tempering chocolate here.) Once the chocolate was melted, I used a large cake frosting spatula to spread it into a thin layer on wax paper. When it had cooled enough to be just set, I used a normal spatula to scrape up smaller shards. (To be honest, I had planned on chocolate curls. Clearly, I have to practice the technique, but for the mean time, chocolate shards are OK. More of an edgy look, haha)
Prepare all the pie components, as described above.
While the pudding is still slightly warm, pour it into the crust. Wiggle the pie plate a little bit to help the pudding settle.
Cover the top of the pudding with banana slices.
Spread whipped topping across the entire surface of the pie, using a frosting spatula to texture the cream.
Sprinkle on the toasted coconut.
Arrange the chocolate shards in a decorative pattern on top.
Chill in the fridge for several hours or a full day, until pudding has set up.
Serve and enjoy!
'Til next time,