For the coconut pastry cream:
2 cups milk
2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
2 large eggs
1/2 cup plus 2 T sugar
3 T flour
1/4 cup butter, softened
For the Pie:
One 9-inch Coconut Pie Shell, prebaked and cooled
2 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 oz. unsweetened “chip” or large-shred coconut (about 1 1/2 cups) or sweetened shredded coconut
Chunks of white chocolate (4 to 6 oz, to make 2 oz of curls)
1. To make the pastry cream, combine the milk and coconut in a medium saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean and add both the seeds and pod to the milk mixture. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat and stir occasionally until the mixture almost comes to a boil.
2. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and flour until well combined. Temper the eggs (to keep them from scrambling) by pouring a small amount (about 1/2 cup) of the scalded milk into the egg mixture while whisking. Then add the warmed egg mixture to the saucepan of milk and coconut. Whisk over medium-high heat until the pastry cream thickens and begins to bubble. Keep whisking until the mixture is very thick, 4 to 5 minutes more. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Add teh butter and whisk until it melts. Remove and discard the vanilla pod. Transfer the pastry cream to a bowl and place it over a bowl of ice water. Stir occasionally until it is cool. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a crust from forming and refrigerate until completely cold. The pastry cream will thicken as it cools.
3. When the pastry cream is cold, fill the prebaked pie shell with it, smoothing the surface. In an elecric mixter with a whisk, whip the heavy cream with teh sugar and vanilla on medium speed. Gradually increase the speed to high and whip to peaks that are firm enough to hold their shape. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a star tip with the whipped cream and pipe it all over the surface of the pie, or spoon it over.
4. For the garnish, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the coconut chips on a baking sheet and toast in the oven, watching carefully and stirring once or twice, since cocount burns easily, until lightly browned, 7 to 8 minutes. Use a vegetable peeler to scrape about 2 oz. of the white chocolate curls.
On the plate:
Cut the pien into 6 to 8 wedges and place on dessert plates. Decorate each wedge of pie with white chocolate curls and the toasted coconut.
A step ahead:
If not serving immediately, keep the pie refrigerated, covered with plastic wrap. The finished pie should be consumed within a day. Prepare the garnishes just before serving. The coconut pastry cream can be made a day ahead and stored chilled in the refrigerator, covered with plastic wrap as described above. Fill the pie shell and top it with whipped cream and garnishes when you are ready to serve the pie.