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Thai-egg-custard PIE and winter

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"It's three thirty, there's still time before I start dinner to put together a special treat for the kids. I'm thinking about making egg custard pie, their favorite Thai dessert. Here's the recipe."

Tags: "Thai-egg-custard, pie, winter, custard pie, dessert recipe"

Egg custard pie- the Thai way

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I looked outside my kitchen window and all I saw was our snow-covered backyard. Through the leafless treetop branches the blue-grey sky loomed over the ground. But for the sound of a shovel scraping the hard surface outside- as my husband worked hard to break through sheets of ice- it was a quiet Saturday afternoon. The boys had been out shoveling earlier. Now, I heard giggles from all three children upstairs: they were probably entertaining themselves watching funny video clips on the Internet. We were going to get more snow in the evening. I checked the clock above the window- "Three thirty: there's still time before I start dinner to put together a special treat for the kids- something they really like." I thought about what would be easy and fast and made my decision.

The Recipe

  • eggs
  • palm/coconut sugar
  • salt
  • coconut milk
  • pie crust

This dessert is normally meant to be eaten with sweet sticky rice. But sticky rice- cooked in coconut milk, palm sugar and salt- is already an eyelid-drooping, fast-falling-asleep type of dessert, and therefore I decided to skip this part, as I'd rather keep the sugar intake level as minimal as possible.
  • A) Putting a small sauce pan on the stovetop, I dropped in a couple of wedges of palm sugar. I opened a can of coconut milk and poured it in, along with a dash of salt. I turned the heat on medium and stirred constantly until the sugar melted. Making sure the heat was turned down further to prevent being splashed with extremely hot sugary liquid, I tasted and worked more by adding more coconut milk (it ended up being two cans) and salt. After the mixture reached the proper balance of sweetness, creaminess, with just a tiny taste of saltiness, I turned off the heat and let it cool.
  • A side bar note:

    You can use refined sugar instead of palm sugar. This way, you can skip the process of cooking the sugar, coconut milk and salt, and go directly to combining the aforementioned ingredients with eggs in the mixing bowl. I prefer to add the eggs later, however, because: 1. I like the aroma of palm sugar, and 2. I can add the eggs afterward, knowing exactly the flavor outcome, therefore taking no risk in guessing how the custard will turn out.

  • B) I cracked fresh eggs into a mixing bowl. I was planning to bake two pies, as well as another tray of just the custard, so I used 8 jumbo-sized eggs. You may find that you need to use as many as 10-12 eggs. If you are not sure, though, start with the lesser quantity. It's important not to make the custard "egg-y": it's a dessert, after all. Beat and stir gently. I had to be careful with this step, because if I beat too hard the mixture would be all bubbly, and I did my best to avoid that.

  • C) I had to try it before I actually baked it in the oven. I put a few teaspoons of the mixture in a microwave cup and cooked for 15 seconds. At this point, had it smelled "egg-y" I would have had to make more coconut milk with sugar and salt to add into the mixture. If, on the other hand, it had looked watery and was missing the savory taste of the eggs, I would have needed to add another egg or two.

  • It turned out the way I wanted, with just the right level of sweetness and savory taste from the coconut milk and eggs. My "sungkaya" egg custard pies were ready to be baked.

    Another side bar:

    Some of us prefer a sweeter taste. I don't want mine too sweet, though, and this makes my dessert different than the typical Thai taste one finds in Thailand. There, if you have egg custard with sticky rice -aka "kaoniew-sungkaya," that comes wrapped inside a fresh, green banana leaf- you will find the aromatic sweetness from the sugar and coconut, along with the banana leaf, seducing your senses and appetite quite effectively. The way I make it, it still consists of the same aroma from the sugar and coconut milk, but without the sweet taste, and without the banana leaf. Do adjust the taste to the way you want.
  • D) Set the oven anywhere from 375 - 425 degrees and bake for 40 - 55 minutes, depending on your oven. I set my oven temperature at 400 degrees and baked two pies- on the bottom rack- and one tray of just the custard- on the top rack- for 45 minutes.

  • That evening after a light dinner, as the snow came down, we sat inside our warm and aromatic kitchen and enjoyed this rich dessert. Sungkaya custard helps to put smiles on my children anytime and anywhere. Simple dessert, simply happiness.

    The only missing element was our eldest son, Brendan, who happens to love egg custard, but is now away at college. You were in our thoughts as we savored every bite, Brendan.
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Pradichaya Gafaae Poonyarit:

A Thai soprano from head to toe with an attitude of a no-nonsense entrepreneur with innovative ideas and, sometimes, shocking approaches, who fits the phrase "been there, done that" perfectly, and is looking forward to new challenges. A leader, a teacher, a wife, a mother, and, a chef-ME-NOT. All makes a person who turns every situation into a learning experience, and, is super charged with positive energy.

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