Joni Woolf: Easy pies for family and friends — or yourself

Published 9:00 pm Monday, August 29, 2016

This morning I made two coconut pies for an event at Calvary Episcopal Church, and that put me in the mood for pies of all kinds. These particular pies have been called, among other things, French coconut pies, but as one food writer said, these pies have never seen the inside of a French bakery. However, similar recipes on the internet call them by that name, so I won’t argue the point. I got my recipe from a cookbook that residents of St. Paul Apartments put together in the early 1970s, when I was the administrator of that senior citizens high-rise in Macon. It is the only recipe I have kept, having torn it from a small cookbook we put together for publication.  The recipe makes two pies, which is nice: one to give away, one to keep.
I’m also including another recipe from my friend Mary Wilder (the one who doesn’t cook, but can). This one is called “Mimi’s Chocolate Pie.” Mimi was her mother-in-law and she gave the recipe to Mary decades ago. I make a good chocolate pie, too, but I think this one is better. When she brings one down from Macon, there is none left for her to take home.
A word about pie crusts: I know that good cooks and chefs make their own. Over the years I have tried, and can make a fairly good one for a crust used in a crostada or galette. But putting one into a pie pan and giving it a lovely shape is simply beyond my skill. So I make no apologies for using either a Pet Ritz crust or a Pillsbury one (the latter being a bit nicer, and I can actually spread it in a pie dish). Do what suits your time and skill and don’t apologize. Folks are thankful for homemade pies, whatever the crust may be.

Two Coconut Pies
3 eggs, beaten
1 cup sugar
1 can Eagle Brand condensed milk
½ cup fresh milk
2/3 stick butter, melted (I use only ½ stick)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 can or package Angel Flake coconut (7 ounces)
Mix and pour into two 9-inch pie shells. Bake at 375 degrees F. for 30 to 40 minutes, until nicely browned.

Mimi’s Chocolate Pie
1 large can Carnation milk
3 eggs, separated
2 ½ blocks unsweetened chocolate (see note)
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons plain flour
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons butter
(Note: Mary says she always used Hershey’s Cooking Chocolate but cannot find it now. As a substitute, she uses Nestle’s, which are shaped differently. For each Hershey block, she uses two flat Nestle’s blocks, so a little mathematics is needed here.)
Melt chocolate in top of double boiler. Stirring, add milk, then egg yolks. Mix sugar and flour together and add to mixture. Cook, stirring frequently, until thickened. Add butter and vanilla, stirring until butter is melted and fully combined. Pour into shell. For meringue, beat the three egg whites until foamy. Add ¼ cup sugar and beat until stiff. Add one teaspoon vanilla. Beat to combine. Put on top of pie and bake at 375 degrees until meringue points are beginning to brown. Let cool before slicing. According to Dr. Wilder, one does not refrigerate this pie (perhaps because there is none left to put away).

Joni Woolf, a writer and editor, now lives in Schley County, having moved from her home in Macon several years ago. Contact her at