Recipe: "Almond Joy" Pie

My mom just celebrated her birthday on Thursday and I really wanted to surprise her with some sort of birthday dessert. I came across a recipe online for “Almond Joy” pie a little while ago and I’d saved it on my “Recipes to Try” pinboard on Pinterest, thinking my parents would enjoy it someday—both are big fans of coconut, and they both enjoy Mounds and Almond Joy candy bars. We have two birthday dessert traditions in our house, Buster Bar ice cream cake (Oreo cookie crust topped with vanilla ice cream, homemade fudgy chocolate topping, and peanuts) and Double Fudge Fancy Fill (a chocolate cake with a layer of sweetened cream cheese in the middle, topped with homemade chocolate icing), but my mom always makes those, so I thought I’d try something new, and birthday pie sounded like a good idea. The pie is essentially a coconut cream pie, but a chocolate cookie crust, whipped cream topping, thick drizzles of hot fudge, and sliced almonds transform it into an “Almond Joy” pie that is to-die-for. I’m not a huge fan of coconut, but I absolutely loved this pie and, happily, so did my parents (and yes, my mom was quite surprised and loved that I made the effort to make something from scratch). The coconut cream filling is luscious and creamy, and the coconut flavor is soft and sweet (I was concerned it would be overpowering, but the flavor is just right). You’ll end up with extra hot fudge, which is great, because it’s perfect for ice cream sundaes, something sweet to dip fruit in, and other desserts. The recipe is easy to follow and it actually gets pulled together pretty quickly, so you’ll be enjoying “Almond Joy” pie in no time!

Yields: 1, 9-inch pie
Prep. and cooking time: Approx. 15-20 minutes for the coconut cream filling, approx.  10-15 minutes for the hot fudge, Approx. 10-15 minutes (unless you use a premade crust, in which case, it’s ready to go)
Difficulty: Easy
Special equipment: Electric mixer or handheld/immersion blender

Ingredients & Directions
Chocolate crumb crust

  • 1 & 1/2 cups Nabisco chocolate wafers, crushed
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 6 tbsp. butter, melted 

Preheat the oven to 375*F. In a medium bowl, combine the chocolate wafers, sugar, and melted butter and stir until well-mixed and until the mixture looks slightly wet and darker. Pour the mixture in a 9-inch pie pan and press it into the bottoms and sides, creating a crust. Bake until firm, for approx. 8-10 minutes. Cool completely, then add the cream pie filling.
I couldn’t find Nabisco chocolate wafers or any other sort of hard, crunchy chocolate cookie, so I used a premade Keebler brand chocolate cookie crumb crust and it was very good.

Coconut cream pie filling

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup cream of coconut
  • 3 egg yolks, beaten
  • 2 tbsp. margarine or butter (I used salted butter) 
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup flaked/shredded, sweetened coconut

In a medium pot, combine the sugar, salt, and cornstarch, then stir in the milk and cream of coconut. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thick and bubbly, then continue cooking for approx. 2 minutes more. Temper the egg yolks by very slowly and gradually adding a little bit of the hot cream of coconut mixture to them, being sure to stir the egg yolk and cream of coconut mixture constantly (you need to temper it properly—if you do this too quickly or mix too much at a time, the eggs will scramble. Here’s a helpful link to explain the process of tempering). Pour this mixture in the pot with the rest of the cream of coconut mixture and cook over medium heat until it starts to bubble, then continue to cook for a minute or too. Remove from heat and add the vanilla and butter, stirring until the butter is melted, then add the shredded coconut, stirring to combine. Pour the mixture over the chocolate crumb crust and and chill, covered or uncovered) for 3-6 hours before adding the whipped cream, chocolate sauce, and almond topping.

Hot fudge topping

  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder (I used Hershey’s brand cocoa powder)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 & 1/2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • (1 small bag sliced almonds to sprinkle on at the very end, once the whipped cream and chocolate has been put on)

Stir together the cocoa powder, sugar, corn syrup, evaporated milk, salt, and butter in a small-to-medium pot and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil. Let the mixture boil for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, then remove from the heat, stir in the vanilla, and let the mixture cool. Store in an airtight, microwave-safe container (it can be stored for up to 1 week in the fridge). To reheat (you need to do this in order to get it to pouring consistency for drizzling on the pie, or any other sweet treats), heat in short bursts (20 seconds at a time) in the microwave in the container it’s in or in a small bowl, until it is warm and thinned-out enough to pour.

Whipped cream

  • 4 tsp. cold water
  • 1/2 tsp. unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • Pure vanilla extract, to taste (I added about a tbsp., maybe a little more)

In a small heatproof dish (I used a little porcelain dish, but a small glass bowl could work too), combine the cold water and gelatin, and let it sit for about 2 minutes, until firm. Bring a small pot of water, filled up to about 2 inches, to a boil, then place the bowl of gelatin in the saucepan and stir it until it dissolves (it will be clear and not cloudy when done). Whip the whipping cream and sugar in a mixer or use a handheld/immersion blender to whip it. Slowly drizzle in the dissolved gelatin as you whip the cream, then add in the vanilla. The whipped cream is done when soft peaks form when you dip a spoon in then pull it up and out. (The reason you add gelatin to this mixture is to stabilize the mixture so it keeps its shape on the pie and stays that way for a few days).

To make the finished product
Spread the whipped cream topping over the chilled coconut cream pie, then drizzle with the hot fudge and sprinkle sliced almonds all over the top. 

This pie is rich, creamy, and has an absolutely perfect combination of flavors and textures. Creamy, sweet coconut filling; fluffy whipped cream; warm, rich chocolate sauce; and a crunchy chocolate crust and sliced almonds on top make a delicious, candy bar-inspired pie that would be great served any time of year, for a variety of events. I highly recommend drizzling extra chocolate topping on after you serve yourself a slice and don’t worry if you have to buy a pre-made crust, because it’ll work out just fine. Be sure to thoroughly chill the pie before serving, because chilling firms it up and makes it a little less messy when serving.

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