The Boil Advisory, Issue #15
A recipe for Thai Tea Cream Pie
A few hours after the last newsletter hit inboxes, my trusty 2012 Ford Escape was totaled in a hit and run—thankfully, without any injuries. I posted the damage to Instagram and received several stories in return about the damage to vehicles friends have experienced while living here. When it comes to driving, NOLA can be pretty rough on the wallet. I try not to get too attached to physical objects, but that was a good car—it had 100k miles on it when I bought it in late 2015, and I doubled that in the time since, driving it across the country at least twice, using it for countless escapes from NYC and loaning it to friends for the same, towing all my belongings behind it in the move to NOLA, and making countless trips to the woods and water of South Louisiana over the last three years. Still, it’s just a car.
Last week, I flew up to North Carolina to visit the family and pick up my grandfather’s old truck, a plan that was already in the works, but which took on new urgency after the accident. Pop hadn’t put many miles on his F-150 since he bought the thing in 2002, but it had been sitting for a while and needed quite a bit of work, which Dad took on, admitting that he got a bit obsessed getting it ready for the road. He’s since put more money into the truck than it’s worth, but says at least now he can trust that Pop can continue fishing with us. It’s a beautiful sentiment, and one of those moments when I see just how alike he and I are, especially in how we sometimes channel grief.
Anyway, all of that combined with a mountain of deadlines and this heatwave hasn’t left much room for exploration or cooking, but it has left with me with a deep craving for comfort pie, so I revisited a recipe that Rémy and I first attempted early in quarantine. That’s our focus this week.
Thai Tea Cream Pie
This is my dream summer pie. The idea came from our adventures about this time last year, trying to change up the take-out routine and consuming every iced beverage / refrigerated dessert available. We love a cream pie here in the South, and we love a Thai iced tea here in this house, so why not combine the two?
Rémy and I consulted a couple of friends for the first attempt, which was delicious, but more of a runny, undercooked pastry cream than a sturdy, whipped pie. Pastry isn’t necessarily a strength for either of us, so we shelved the idea at the time, but I needed a mental break from the pace of the last few weeks and decided to dust it off. Through a couple more mistakes, I dialed in something that I’ll now be bringing to any potluck gathering for the foreseeable future (I can’t be trusted alone with this in the fridge).
Before we dive into the recipe, a couple of caveats: First, as noted above, I don’t pretend to be an expert in pastry—in fact, it’s probably my weakest skillset in the kitchen. But I wouldn’t want to live in a world without baked goods, and with enough determination/trial and error, anything’s possible. Second, I feel confident in this recipe (otherwise I wouldn’t be sharing it), but I know there are ways to make it better, especially with regard to technique. Feedback is welcome, and I hope others will riff off of this, just as I’ve done. While there’s not an exact match for this creation on the internet, it does pull some notes from coconut cream pie recipes published by Herbsaint (method) and Southern Living (ingredient proportions). I’m a fan of all pie, but cream pies have tended to rank low on my list due to (frequently) under-baked crusts, so a traditional pie dough gets swapped here for Ray Pajar’s incredibly simple + tasty corn flake crust, which takes very little effort and offers a sturdy, crispy/crunchy base that really carries the silkiness of the cream filling.
For the crust:
4 cups corn flakes
1/3 cup sugar
6 Tbsps. butter, melted
For the filling:
1 cup sugar, divided
1/4 cup cornstarch
4 egg yolks
4 1/2 cups, divided + 1 Tbsp. heavy cream
1 cup Thai tea mix (we bought this one online after striking out at International Market)
For the topping:
1 cup heavy cream
3 Tbsps. sugar
1/4 cup shaved unsweetened coconut, lightly toasted
For the crust:
Preheat the oven to 325°. In a large Ziploc bag, crush the corn flakes with a rolling pin to break them into small pieces. Transfer to a bowl, toss in the sugar and butter, and stir until evenly coated.
Spread the mixture in a 9-inch tart pan or pie plate, pressing into the sides and closing any gaps that form along the bottom. (Note: I run the bottom of a large measuring cup across mine to ensure an even surface.) Bake for 15 minutes or until evenly browned, then let the crust cool completely.
For the filling:
In a small bowl, mix 1/2 cup sugar with the cornstarch. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks with 1 Tbsp. heavy cream. Set both aside.
In a heavy-bottom saucepan, heat 2 cups of the heavy cream over medium until just a little steam is rising from the surface—but before there’s any movement in the liquid, or about 150°. Turn off the heat, stir in the Thai tea, and let steep for 5 minutes. Use a sieve or colander with cheesecloth to strain the cream. (Note: I tried steeping using a nut milk bag, but I was able to recover more of the infused cream using a colander.) Measure out the strained cream and add enough heavy cream to bring it back up to a total of 2 cups; you should need no more than another 1/2 cup or so.
Return the infused cream to the pan and heat over medium until boiling, stirring regularly to keep it from scorching, then reduce heat to medium-low. Whisk together the egg yolk and sugar mixture to create a slurry, then add a large spoonful at a time to the cream, stirring vigorously. Continue cooking and stirring until the mixture becomes thick and glossy—it’ll look like a rich caramel. Remove from heat and pour the pastry cream into a shallow dish, then refrigerate until cool, at least 1 hour. Meanwhile, chill a large mixing bowl (preferably that of a stand mixer) either by placing it in the freezer or by filling it with ice.
Once the pastry cream has cooled, pour 2 cups of heavy cream and the remaining 1/2 cup sugar into the chilled mixer bowl and beat on medium-high with a whisk attachment until soft peaks have formed. Using a spatula, gently fold the whipped cream and pastry cream together until evenly mixed in color and texture, with no visible streaks. Pour the mixture into the cooled pie crust.
For the topping:
Repeat the process for whipping cream above: Combine the heavy cream and sugar in a large mixing bowl—preferably chilled—and beat on medium-high until soft peaks form. Spread over the pie filling, and top with toasted coconut.
Refrigerate until ready to serve!
Previously in TBA:
Pozole - with Ana Castro
Creole Cream Cheese Cavatelli - with Jason Goodenough
Moving: Sneaky Pickle.
Louisiana Cookin’ listed a cohort of chefs to watch, which includes locals Kaitlin Guerin of Lagniappe Baking Co., Serigne Mbaye of Dakar, and Melissa Araujo of Alma.
Meanwhile, Ruby Mitchell, who at 95 is Grand Isle’s oldest resident, was crowned queen of last weekend’s annual Tarpon Rodeo. And speaking of Grand Isle: Lobo Charters launched this week, offering inshore night fishing and sunset tours.
Jean-Paul Bourgeois announced he and the Duck Camp Dinners series have joined the team at MeatEater.
“No slaw, extra toast” isn’t just an order at Raisin’ Cane’s—now it’s also a beer from Parish Brewing Co.
I’ve received a lot of response to Issue #14, which took a much more personal tone—I greatly appreciate everyone’s feedback and encouragement. Thanks again for reading, y’all. If you’re enjoying TBA, I’d greatly appreciate if you shared it!