1cupcanned unsweetened coconut milknot shaken (do not use light or low-fat)
1 12ouncecan evaporated milk
2tablespoonscoconut cream from a 5.4 ounce canthe remainder to be used in the topping
½cupplus 2 tablespoons sugar
1teaspoonpure vanilla extract
⅓cupcoconut creamwhich is the remainder of the can after using 2 T in the filling
¼cupflaked toasted coconut
Make the crust. Preheat oven to 350. Spread the coconut on a baking sheet and toast for 5-8 minutes until lightly browned. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn. Remove and let cool. Place the cookies in a food processor and pulse until they are broken up and mostly ground, then add in the cooled coconut. Process until the cookies are finely ground, stopping if they start to clump and get gummy. Add the sugar and blend, then add the butter and process to combine. Dump the crumbs into a deep pie plate, and press in evenly all along the bottom and up the sides, then place back in the oven to bake for 10 minutes. Remove and set aside.
Lower the oven to 325 degrees.
Make the filling. Open the can of coconut milk and using a spoon, scoop out the thick creamy coconut milk from the top and place in a 1-cup measuring cup or pyrex measurer. Pour enough of the liquid from the can to equal one cup (save the remaining milk in the can for another use or discard). Now open the coconut cream and place in a small bowl. This too tends to separate, and you will need to whisk it before using. Place two tablespoons of the coconut cream, the 1 cup of coconut milk, the entire can of evaporated milk, and all of the sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer, whisking so the sugar dissolves and any lumps dissolve. (Place the remaining coconut cream in the refrigerator to use for the whipped cream topping later).
While the milks are heating, place the egg yolks and cornstarch in a medium bowl and whisk. After the milk mixture has come to a simmer, remove from the heat and slowly pour it into the eggs while whisking constantly. If you pour too fast, the eggs can scramble. Once the liquid is incorporated, pour back into the pot. Cook over medium low heat for about 5-10 minutes, whisking constantly, until thickened. The exact time it takes to thicken will depend on your heat. It will be noticeably thickened and the bubbles from the surface will disappear when it is ready. Add in the vanilla, then pour into the crust and bake for 18-20 minutes. The filling will be set and slightly browned. If it is browning too quickly, reduce the heat to 300.
Remove the pie from the oven and let cool completely. You can refrigerate it up to 6 hours at this point.
Make the topping. Beat the cream, coconut cream, and powdered sugar together using a stand mixer or hand held beaters until thickened. Be careful not to over-whip or you will end up with coconut butter! Dollop all over the pie, swirling in a decorative shape. Sprinkle with the toasted coconut and serve, or refrigerate for up to another 2 hours.
Coconut cream is not the same thing as cream of coconut. Coconut cream usually comes in a small can and is unsweetened. It is found in the same section of the supermarket where the coconut milk it, which is usually the Asian foods section. See prep photo for an example.
Should you prefer to use a traditional store-bought pie crust instead of crumbing shortbread and building up from there, no problem. You'll find that without the shredded coconut in the crust that there's still plenty of coconut to go around!
I have adjusted the instructions for the pie crust based on some feedback I got. The comments were that the cookie crumbs got too pasty and didn't turn into the crumbs that you could press into the pie plate. If the coconut was still too warm when combined with the cookies, this could cause them to break down further than desired, so I changed the recipe to cool the coconut before combining it with the cookies in the food processor.