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help my coconut custard pie look more appetizing

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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

                brilliant :)

                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                  Thank you (blush)

                2. re: roxlet

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

                3. 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!

                    2. I would just hit it with a tiny, tiny drop of yellow food coloring. I'm not big on the artificial stuff, but in the quantity you would need, what could it hurt? I put a drop in my chicken stock when I make chick pot pie, and it really improves the eye appeal, as much as I hate to admit it.

                      I also agree w/ the suggestion to find some fresh eggs w/ the orange yolks. They really make a difference in color.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: danna

                        Yes, the food coloring idea sounds like a quick and easy fix. It's on my list of things to try next time with this pie. Any thoughts as to where I can find fresh, non-supermarket eggs? Farm stands? Farmer's markets? Thanks!!

                        1. re: addicted2cake

                          yep. prepare to be shocked by the price. We pay about $3.75 at the farmers market.

                          As an aside, a couple of years ago there was a man selling eggs for $5 /dozen. I wouldn't have bought them if I had seen the price before saying I wanted them, but they were fantastic. My husband agreed they were the best eggs he ever had. God knows what that old man was feeding his chickens, but I suppose a $5 egg business didn't work out for him, because he has not been at the market in subsequent years.

                          1. re: danna

                            Good story! I'm not all that shocked by the price, though, as I'm paying over $3.00 for eggs at Whole Foods - and not the organic ones!! The organic eggs are in the $4.00 plus price range last time I checked. The bigger chain super markets near by aren't much of a bargain, either.

                            1. re: addicted2cake

                              do you have Trader Joe's near you? their organic eggs are around the same price as the conventional ones at WF. but the Costco organic omega-3 enriched eggs are the best deal of all if you have a membership...

                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                Yes, there's a Trader Joe's (2 actually) pretty close to where I live. I have a Costco membership but don't use it all that much as getting there is a little out of the way. Next time I'm at these places, I'll check out the eggs. Funny, I never think to buy eggs at TJ's or Costco, just items I can't get at WF or my local chain markets. Very good suggestions as I go through eggs pretty quickly and would love to pay less for them.

                                1. re: addicted2cake

                                  Lots of good tips so far. Consider this: Remove the custard from the pie shell. Reserve. Poor in a can of cherries. Heat in oven until piping hot. Remove and put vanilla ice cream on top. It will be beautiful.

                                  1. re: addicted2cake

                                    my egg consumption would be much lower if i didn't have those options :)

                        2. I just had the same problem and spent hours researching...my pie was delish but really greenish.....here is what I found...I overheated the eggs during the tempering stage..the milk was too hot and I was supposed to let it cool a bit more before pouring it on eggs, even though I poured slowly while whisking... the big question here is that why do egg yolk turn green? Well, once you overheat an egg. It causes hydrogen sulfide in whites to react to the iron that is present in the egg yolk and then forms a grayish green compound. It is safe to eat but unappetizing....
                          also I found out the the only utensils and equipment even spoons to use is stainless steel or glass to avoid the same reaction between whites and yolks... Happy baking....

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Lailabakes

                            Lailabakes, I made this pie just last week and of course, forgot to come up here to check people's suggestions....and once again, the pie was off color. Since I'm planning to make it again before holiday time, I will take your advice and be more careful during the tempering stage. I also have some yellow food coloring I could try as well as turmeric. For company, I may brulee the top or go with meringue, especially if I'm still not happy with the color. I may do this anyway, even if the color comes out well as I love the idea of brulee and/or meringue.

                            1. re: addicted2cake

                              I saw some recipes on net that they don't even heat the milk/cream (I do love to add coconut milk) ...I will try that next time...if it works why even bother...just mix liquids and pour in pie... this way you don't bother tempering the eggs...also beware turmeric..it works but it is easy to over do it and it does have a distinct flavor... I use turmeric when I want to give my rice a yellowish color instead of the much expensive saffron...a little bit goes a long way...I will use a few drops of food coloring next time for sure to be safe... Good luck...

                              1. re: Lailabakes

                                I disagree about worrying about the flavor of turmeric; you need an awful lot to taste it and not much at all for color.

                          2. You could add some white food coloring...yes, white. I depend on it to keep royal icing white.