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help my coconut custard pie look more appetizing

I was in the mood for an easy pie this weekend. I made a graham cracker crust and a coconut custard filling. The filling was made on the stove using coconut milk only. Coconut milk is stark white and looks almost silvery to my eye. When combined with eggs, the color looks a little green/grayish. Since I'm lactose intolerant, I don't cook with dairy so must rely on alternatives. The pie tastes great, but the color, not so great. I love the creamy pale yellow color of custards and puddings made with dairy. Is there any way to make this happen using dairy free milks without sacrificing taste or texture? Hope this isn't a dumb question. Thanks for your thoughts and any help.

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  1. I'm afraid I won't be able to help you on the food science part, but I would say that for the time being, some toasted coconut scattered on top would at least disguise the top of the cake - and provide that wonderful toasted coconut flavor.

    1 Reply
    1. re: katecm

      katecm, I put toasted coconut on the pie, apparently not enough to disguise the off color, though. Thanks very much for taking the time to reply. We were on the same wavelength!

    2. I don't know why this happened for you. I'm interested in the sort of pan you cooked the custard in, though.......I've had better experience with things not graying when I stayed far, far away from metal pots and veered into enamel territory. One thing that may help with the color, minus the addition of food coloring, is to use really good, not-supermarket standard fresh eggs. The yolks have a marvelous marigold color that regular eggs just don't have. They also taste more eggy to me. (And to the folks who'll tell me now that there's no possible way this could be true, I'll just say right now, I said 'to me.') The opacity of the product sounds like it might be the problem, rather than an actual color issue? Could you perhaps use a good spoonful of ap flour for part of the cornstarch in the base? (I'm assuming cornstarch is part of the equation here, which lends a definite opacity to food...) That can help. You can also find natural food coloring and add a drop of yellow to your custard, and it may make it more appealing to you. And there's always whomping up a big ol' bowl of meringue, topping with shaved coconut curls, and broiling until meringue has set. It's a beautiful pie, and people will be so busy eating it that they won't be inclined to judge the appearence of the filling itself. And you know what, addictedtocake? We are so aware of our flaws - waaay more so than other people tend to be - and you're probably the only one who'll even notice, because they'll be snarfing up your delicious dairy free coco pie, with gratitude and appreciation. Cheers.

      7 Replies
      1. re: mamachef

        mamachef, thank you very much for your thoughtful reply. I used my Analon 2qt. sauce pan - hard anodized aluminum, non-stick. I did beat the eggs in a metal bowl and tempered them with the hot coconut milk before adding the eggs to the pot. Maybe you're on to something here with the metal, c-milk, and eggs. I'll use a ceramic or glass bowl next time and see if this makes a difference. I don't think I can get the kind of eggs you describe, so Whole Foods will have to do. I buy omega-3 eggs and the yolks are always bright orangey-yellow. You're right that I used cornstarch. I could try some AP flour next time. And then, as you suggested, I could find some natural food coloring and see if that helps. The meringue idea sounds very appealing, especially if I'm serving the pie to company. Thank you for your kind words at the end of your post. I really appreciated them as I can be hard on myself when my baking/cooking falls short of my expectations. My family is very good about eating what I make, and as long as it's tasty, they don't complain. You're one wise mamachef! :)

        1. re: mamachef

          You can also find natural food coloring and add a drop of yellow to your custard, and it may make it more appealing to you.
          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
          a lil pinch of turmeric would probably do the trick without affecting the flavor.

          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

            I have some in my spice cabinet. Really nice idea. Thank you!

            1. re: addicted2cake

              you're welcome! i've found that it really does make a great substitute for artificial coloring when used judiciously...as does saffron, but that's far too expensive to waste on a dish where you're planning to *hide* the flavor ;)

          2. re: mamachef

            To the extent that an egg yolk looks "yellower" it's still basically "food coloring" albeit nature-sourced. It's from carotenoids in the chicken feed (you can buy carotenoid-enhanced goldfish food which is specifically marketed as "color-enhancing").

            So whether it's from a bottle or in the chicken feed, it's essentially a colorant and not an indicator of healthiness, organic method or anything "natural."

            1. re: ferret

              ?? Mmm hmmm. I was talking about color and taste when recommending those eggs, not how they're labeled or what they're touted to be. Thanks though, for the health tips!

              1. re: mamachef

                And I was explaining that the color is the result of feed. If store-brand egg-layers were given the same feed you'd see orange yolks popping up everywhere. It goes with perception of quality, like brown eggs were once perceived as being more "natural." The original poster wanted something to counteract discoloration and while people were suggesting that he/she seek out eggs with deeply-colored yolks I was proposing that adding a natural food coloring does exactly the same thing.

          3. What about doing a brule topping by sprinkling some sugar and then browning it?

            4 Replies
            1. re: roxlet

              This could work. Hadn't thought of that. Thanks roxlet for your input!

                1. re: roxlet

                  Nice. Goooood idea. Yum, crackly brulee.....

                2. brulee sounds good. I was thinking a meringue topping, in nice big peaks, then lightly browned.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: cocktailhour

                    Even though I'm on record as meringue-averse, that would be my first choice too. Meringue with toasted coconut sprinkled all over, and then browned. When I see one of these pies in my mind's eye, that's the picture I get, and I will always happily eat it meringue and all.

                  2. One more thing: it occurred to me last night that you could try a new tack by using whipped and sieved silken tofu and coco milk, perhaps with a bit of gelatine to stabilize this pie.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: mamachef

                      I have tried silken tofu in quite a few recipes through the years and I just can't get past the slightly beany taste - no matter what other ingredients are in the recipe, I somehow always manage to taste the tofu. I really like cubed tofu in soups and other vegetarian dishes, though. Thanks for continuing to offer your suggestions; I really appreciate your time and help!