I remember coming home from school to the heavenly smells of my mother's fresh baked cookies and pies most every day leading up to Christmas. She baked not only for us but also for friends, creating beautifully packaged, homemade treats that always looked as wonderful as they tasted. I remain in awe of how in an instant she could wrap up one of her pies in cellophane, tie a ribbon around it and magically transform it into a beautiful gift.
As I grew older, I assumed that I could also turn my own fresh baked goodies into gorgeous gift creations with bows and wrap, but I realized early on that I didn't inherit that skill. I have also learned — and come to accept — that some folks have a knack for making a present look like a work of art (my mother) and some do not (me).
When I would ask my mother why the desserts she baked turned out so much better than everyone else's, she'd say that she just knew what tasted great. During the holidays, homemade goodies were plentiful when we visited loved ones. More often than not, I thought the majority of them looked and tasted kind of meh, except for a too-sweet smear of garish green or red frosting. (I guess my palate was already spoiled at quite a young age!)
Once I was older, I began to see that much of what my mother baked was actually pretty easy to make and that I could follow most of her recipes, like this coconut pie, myself. It's now my go-to dessert during the holidays because you can whip it up in no time, and it's a reliable crowd pleaser that turns out delicious every single time.
This easy-to-make pie bakes to a gorgeous golden color; and it's never runny, always divine when it comes out of the oven. In fact, it's so pretty that you'll be proud to gift it to even the most discriminating person on your list.
Though my mother first introduced this pie to our family, the recipe was originally given to her many, many, many years ago by our beloved childhood neighbor, Miss Mary Helen. Passed down through neighbors and generations, this lovely pie stands the test of time.
Recipe: Old-Fashioned Coconut Pie
- 1 stick of butter
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 1/2 cups dried coconut
- 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 unbaked, 9" pie shell, pricked all around with a fork
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Blend butter, sugar, eggs, then add the coconut. Add the vanilla and vinegar. Mix well.
- Pour into pie shell and bake 1 hour.
Chef's tip: If the crust begins to darken too much, lightly place aluminum foil over it.
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