Oliver’s dad is a date farmer and so we always have dates coming out our ears. Last week, Ollie requested a date pie, but he didn’t want me to use walnuts, he didn’t want a top crust and he didn’t want me to use any other fruit. He wanted the focus to be totally on the dates. Which was great, but I didn’t have a recipe for that, which means I had to get creative and make one up out of pieces of three recipes I had.
It turned out really well for a made up pie. A bit on the sweet side — next time I won’t use any sugar at all since dates have a ton of natural sugar. One other important note: This is definitely a grown up pie. We gave some to our little 3-year-old friend Kelvin and he just stood there crying with it in his mouth, refusing to swallow.
But really, I swear this is a good pie!
So — here you go — a new specialty of mine, Ollie’s Coconut Date Pie.
I used a nutty pie pastry for this one. Since I planned to use almonds in the filling, I decided to use almonds in the crust as well. Making the pastry is my favorite part of making a pie and it was super-fun to try a new one. A couple of notes on this pastry — it rolls out weird and because of the nut oil from the almonds it is more buttery/stickier than you might be used to. Also, in this particular recipe, the pastry needs to be frozen then pre-baked before you put the filling in, so plan your time accordingly,
- 1 cup of almonds
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- 2.5 cups of all purpose flour
- 1.5 sticks of cold butter (I know! My arteries are clogging just reading that! My running habit allows for this pie habit…)
- 2 tablespoons of cold vegetable oil cut into pieces
- 5 tablespoons of cold water
Step 1: Combine the almonds and sugar in a food processor and grind em up until they are almost flour fine. You don’t want any big almond chunks because they’ll make the crust hard to roll out. Once they’re finely ground, combine the nuts and sugar in a big bowl with the flour and mix them up. Add the cold butter and mush in with your hands until the butter is pea sized. Do the same with the vegetable oil. Add the water tablespoon by table spoon until the dough gets clumpy.
Step 2: pack the pastry into 2 balls. You just need one for this recipe so now you have a spare. You could also halve this recipe if you want but pastry dough freezes well so I went ahead and made the full recipe to save myself time on the next pie. Pack into a 3/4 inch thick disk, wrap in wax paper and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes.
Step 3: When the dough is ready, roll it out using the technique I taught you here. You’re gonna have to pre-bake this baby because if you don’t the filling will dry out before the crust is all the way cooked. So, once it’s in the pan, put it in the freezer for 15 minutes and go about getting the filling ready.
Step 4: Has your pastry been in the freezer for 15 minutes? Good. Time to pre-bake. You need tin foil and something to weight it down. I use dried beans. Tear off some foil and tuck it into the pan, just like you tucked in the pastry. (This is why you freeze it first btw — so that this process doesn’t mess up the shape of your pie.) Don’t bunch it around the pie pan. It will look like this:
Stick it in the oven, preheated to 400 degrees, and let it cook for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, pull it out, take the foil and the beans off, turn the oven down to 375 degrees and cook it for 12 more minutes. After that, pull it out and put it to the side until you’re ready for the filling.
Speaking of… the filling: dates, almonds and a WHOLE LOT of sugar. I will definitely use NO extra sugar in this next time around:
- 4 large eggs (I actually think I’m going to use 2 large bananas next time because bananas+dates+almonds+coconut = YUM!)
- 1/3 cup of brown sugar (skip this if you want less sweet! This is what pushes this pie into a sugar coma!)
- 1/2 stick of melted butter
- 1 cup of agave sugar or honey (ok, the official recipe calls for corn syrup but seriously? Ew. Why use that when agave is so much tastier and better for you. Again, because this is an incredibly sweet ingredient, you can definitely skip the brown sugar.)
- 1.5 cups of Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
- 1 cup chopped almonds
Important note: Cutting dates up is one of the most frustrating things ever unless you know this magic trick… use scissors! Makes it so much easier. Your chopped dates should look like this:
Another important note: the quality of dates matters A LOT! If you can find Oliver’s dad’s dates, use those. They are sold at Whole Foods across Arizona. If you can’t find this specific brand, look for dates that have been stored properly… which means not stored in bulk bins. Anyway, shameless plug, look for this at Whole Foods:
- Eggs and brown sugar first — beat together for 2 minutes.
- Then add the hot butter — beat for 30 seconds
- Next the agave — beat for 30 seconds
- Finally, fold in the dates and almonds until you’re satisfied with the thickness and consistency of the mixture.
Pour all this goodness and sugar into your pie shell and set aside while you take one more step, making the coconut topping.
Coconut crumb topping ingredients:
- 2/3 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup of coconut flakes
- 5 tablespoons of butter (again, you really need to work out or go for a long run before you eat a slice of this sugar and butter filled pie….)
Single step: Combine all the ingredients in a bowl (or your food processor if you’re lazy), and much them together with your hands until the mixture resembles buttery crumbs. Spread on top of the filling that’s sitting there waiting for you in the pastry shell.
Final step: Turn the oven down to 350 degrees and cook for 45 minutes. After it’s baked, let it cool for at least an hour before eating. Tastes really fantastic with vanilla ice cream.
Since I bake at night, I was really sleepy by the time this pie came out of the oven and didn’t snap a good picture, but it looks beautiful with the crumb topping and it tastes seriously fantastic, despite the fact it also makes 3-year-olds cry.