Elizabeth, Morgan, and I had so much fun with last month's collaboration/excuse to hang out (which is really the best kind of collaboration) that we decided to turn it into a monthly affair. April's edition was kind of a no-brainer, as Elizabeth was already planning to have an art show at Morgan and her friend Victoria's studio, Wild Hand Workspace. I jumped on board by contributing baked goods for the opening last week.
Inspired by Miss Moss' fashion and food pairings, I wanted to make some food items that were inspired by Elizabeth's art, whether in shape, color, form, or topic. Her tiger painting and another tiger pillow (which served as the show's poster) reminded me of the Samoa Pie I'd seen in Allison Kave's inspirational new pie cookbook First Prize Pies. A wildly creative collection of show-stopping recipes with at least one pie for every week of the year, I recommend picking up a copy and baking your way through the book. That's what I plan to do at least.
The Samoa Pie is, as you might imagine, a take on the Samoa Girl Scout Cookie or as they're called where I'm from Caramel deLites (for more on the regional name variations, read this incredible piece of investigative journalism on the subject). Like the cookie, it has a shortbread base, coated with caramel, coconut and chocolate. I love that this recipe uses coconut cream in the caramel, which adds an extra coco-nuty kick. Do make sure to refrigerate the coconut milk before you plan to make the pie--I forgot to plan ahead and had to delay my caramel making a bit.
Adapted only slightly from First Prize Pies by Allison Kave
For the crust:
1 1/2 cups shortbread cookie crumbs (15-20 cookies)
2-4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the filling:
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 can (14-oz) full fat coconut milk, refrigerated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup toasted shredded coconut
For the topping:
1/4 cup toasted shredded coconut
4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped or chips
1/4 cup heavy cream
For the crust:
1. Pulse the cookies in a food processor until finely ground. Pour in the butter gradually and pulse between pours until the mixture it the texture of wet sand. Firmly press the crumbs into a 9-inch pie pan. Chill the crust in the fridge or freezer while preheating the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake for about 10 minutes until golden, then remove from the oven and let cool completely.
For the filling:
1. In a heavy-bottomed medium-sized saucepan, stir together 1/2 cup water, the sugar, and corn syrup until the sugar is mostly dissolved. Cook over medium-high heat, moving the pan around occasionally, until the caramel has turned a dark amber and reached 360 degrees F on a candy thermometer (for me this took about 15 minutes). Keep a close eye at this stage and the caramel can burn very quickly.
2. Remove the saucepan from the heat and immediately start to whisk the butter into the caramel. Be very careful here as the caramel will bubble violently and release a lot of hot steam. Open the chilled can of coconut milk and spoon off the thick, white coconut cream from the top (save the remaining water for smoothies!). Whisk the coconut cream into the caramel until it is fully dissolved, then add the vanilla and salt. Stir in the toasted coconut flakes and pour the filling into the pre-baked pie shell.
3. Refrigerate the pie, uncovered, for at least 1 hour, until the surface of the pie is set. Sprinkle the toasted coconut flakes over the surface of the pie.
For the topping:
1. Place the chocolate in a heat-proof bowl and set aside. Heat the cream until scalded and then pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for a minute and then whisk until glossy and no chocolate chunks remain. Using a fork or whisk (I found a whisk to work best), drizzle the ganache over the surface of the pie in a crosshatch pattern, then sprinkle the toasted coconut flakes on top. Return the pie, uncovered, to the fridge to fully set for at least 4 hours but preferably overnight. Serve the pie just chilled or at room temperature (it can begin to melt if it gets too warm).
Along with the Samoa Pie, I also made Coconut Caramel & Chocolate Tarts (with leftover pie filling), Grapefruit Meringue Tarts, and Yossy Arefi's Mini Black and White Cookies, which you can find the recipe for on Food52. I didn't plan it this way, but Morgan noticed that they paired perfectly with Elizabeth's zebra painting, a companion piece to the tiger. Maybe someday we'll create a whole baked goods & painting safari experience!
I'm forever enamoured with Elizabeth's work but it was so stunning to see her paintings and zines and pins and totes displayed across an entire wall of the light-filled Wild Hand Workspace. Thanks to Elizabeth for all the fun and fanciful art and to Morgan and Victoria for hosting such a lovely spring evening of art and friends and snacks and (somewhat dangerously) strong homebrewed saison via Grizzly Beer. Make sure to check out Panda Head Blog & Elizabeth's tumblr for more on the show-- and also BYT who featured it on their site with beautiful photos by Rachel Cumberbatch.
Dark Chocolate & Vanilla-Bourbon Salted Caramel Pie
Floriole's Milk Chocolate & Salted Caramel Hazelnut Tart
Gluten-Free Chocolate Coconut Pie
Photos by Morgan Hungerford West