My mother-in-law, Betty Bryan, is a fantastic cook and baker—and like a lot of good cooks, she doesn't really cook or bake by using recipes. So with that introduction, I'd like to tell you about her coconut cream pie and give you her exact recipe, but I can't. Let's just say it's as exact as I can make it for now, after talking with her briefly. But let me just tell you that whatever experimenting you manage with this pie, it will be worth it in the end. It's a much more soothing, less sweet, and softer-on-the-palate version of coconut than say Mrs. Rowe's Coconut Cream–itself an iconic pie known to travelers across the country. Betty's pie is made with (non-instant) vanilla pudding and coconut flakes, which is a heavenly combination.
This "recipe" makes 3 pies. (Regular size, not deep dish.)
Preheat oven to 400.
Prebake your pie crust.
2 big packages of Jello vanilla pudding (follow the instruction, except for the eggs, which you will add)
5-8 Eggs for meringue (use Mrs. Rowe's weepless meringue, click here)
Take your egg yolks and stir them into the pudding as it cooks.
A hand full (seriously) or about a cup of coconut flakes also gets stirred into the pudding as it cooks.
You also want to save some coconut for sprinkling on top of the pie before it goes into the oven.
The pudding needs to cool to room temperature, then pour it into the prebaked pie crusts. Place your meringue on top, sprinkle the coconut. Bake it in the oven for about 15 minutes.
"You really need to watch it because ovens are so different and you don't want it to burn," Betty says. Truer words were never spoken.