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No Humble Pie

May 18, 1986|BETSY BALSLEY | Betsy Balsley is food editor of The Times.

The Willows, a legendary restaurant on Honolulu's Hausten Street, has long served what can only be described as a legendary dessert: coconut cream pie. A flaky crust is filled with a cool custard laced with shreds of fresh coconut and then topped with a frothy meringue. But not just any meringue--this one is sprinkled with fresh coconut and stands sky-high, its soft peaks lightly browned. It's a luscious creation to look at and impossible to resist.

PRODUCED BY ROBIN TUCKER FOOD STYLIST: NONA BAER THE WILLOWS COCONUT CREAM PIE

2 cups milk

1/2 cup sugar

Dash salt

Grated fresh coconut

4 egg yolks

3 tablespoons cornstarch

3 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon butter or margarine

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 9-inch baked pie shell

Meringue

Combine milk, sugar, salt and cup grated coconut in medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat until mixture is very hot, but do not allow to boil.

Beat egg yolks, then blend in cornstarch mixed with water. Add egg-yolk mixture to milk mixture. Cook and stir about 1 minute. Add butter and vanilla. Cool mixture, then pour into 9-inch baked pie shell. Swirl Meringue over filling, making sure that it is sealed to edge of pie shell. Sprinkle with grated coconut. Bake at 400 degrees until Meringue is lightly browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Cool completely before cutting. Makes 6 to 8 servings. Meringue

6 egg whites

teaspoon cream of tartar

6 tablespoons sugar

Beat egg whites with cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Continue beating while adding sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Beat until stiff but not dry.

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