We also don't do wimpy brunches. I never understood why Mother's Day is always about brunch. After all our mothers do for us, don't they deserve more than brunch? Kevin and I like to serve our mothers something more substantial. Last year I made a pot of Sunday Sauce and piles of good ziti. Pasta is my mother's favorite food and why should I serve her anything other than what she loves for her day?
This year I decided to maintain the tradition. Big pasta dinners make everyone happy (except for my nephew, and I'm sure he'll outgrow his aversion to tomato sauce eventually).
This year's Sunday Sauce is the same as last years. I made a hearty sauce and filled it with meatballs, sausage, and beef shanks. I prefaced it with a bit of antipasto consisting of olives, roasted peppers, cheese, and some local salumi. I accompanied all of it with fresh bread and good wine. This is what family dinners are supposed to be about.
The one part of the meal I changed this year was dessert. I haven't made any new desserts lately and I was itching to make a new pie. I decided to create a a new pie recipe that incorporated two of favorite flavors: chocolate and coconut. I took that over the top by adding almonds to the mix too.
My new creation was appropriately called Almond Joy Pie, in honor of the similarly flavored, beloved, candy bar. It consisted of an almond flavored crust, chocolate coconut filling, and a topping of almond whipped cream garnished with crunchy almonds and toasted coconut.
My plan to make an almond flavored meant I wanted to make a crumb crust out of almond flavored cookies. This was one of the biggest challenges. It's not easy finding an almond flavored cookie that makes a suitable crumb crust. The most common type of almond cookies are biscotti, and biscotti are rock-hard. I was afraid they would make a hard crust.
Eventually I found these almond wafers. These were perfect since thin wafer cookies make the best crust. Unfortunately, they were a little too strong in the ginger department with little pronounced almond flavor.
I crushed them up, mixed them with butter, and baked them. The flavor might not have been perfect, but I had a useable crust that was neither too soft nor too hard.
The other tricky part was adapting a chocolate pastry cream recipe that would incorporate the coconut flavor. I didn't just want to add a bag of coconut to chocolate pudding. I wanted the flavors to blend together seamlessly. The best way to do that was to make coconut milk part of the custard base. Would that work? I have made coconut cream pie with coconut milk in the custard before (thank you Elaine Corn), but I haven't ever tried it with chocolate. It would be an interesting experiment. I crossed my fingers and adapted my favorite chocolate cream pie recipe using coconut milk as a replacement for some of the cream in the pudding.
Finally I topped the whole thing with fresh whipped cream blended with amaretto. I topped it with more toasted coconut and sliced almonds.
Almond Joy Pie
- 1.5 cups crushed almond wafer cookies
- 2 Tbl sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 5 Tbl butter, melted
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup corn starch
- 1 can coconut milk
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 1/2 cups half and half
- 6 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
- 2 Tbl butter
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
- 2 Tbl amaretto
- 1/4 cup toasted coconut flakes
- 1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds
Keep whisking the mixture over medium high heat until it thickens and boils. This should take about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and add the chocolate and butter, whisking until smooth. Stir in the vanilla. Transfer filling to crust, press a piece of plastic wrap over directly over the top, and chill for at least 6 hours.
Beat cream, sugar, and amaretto on high speed until thick and fluffy. Spread on top of pie. Sprinkle generously with almonds and coconut flakes.