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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Mile-high pie a la Willows

By Wanda A. Adams
Advertiser Columnist

 •  Pho ... from home

I knew I had it somewhere.

Several weeks ago, reader Laurie Adamshick wrote to say that some friends were desperate to get the recipe for The Willows' Mile High Coconut Pie.

She noted that the coconut pie in The Advertiser's 150th anniversary cookbook was not The Willows' "Mile High" version but one from the now-defunct Coco Palms hotel on Kaua'i. I promised I'd rustle up The Willows' version, which I knew I'd seen somewhere.

As my grandfather loved to say, "I've got it in my files." Only in this case, my files consist of several cardboard boxes filled haphazardly with photocopies of recipes I've pulled from Advertiser files over the past few years of cookbook writing.

Would I find it in "Sweets and Desserts"? in "Restaurant Recipes"? In "1950s"?

Well, anyway, I found it. In a column, as so often happens, by Maili Yardley, from March 26, 1980, titled "Aloha, Willows!," about the sale of the restaurant by the original family owners. (Though, thank goodness, it's still there today.)

You need fresh-grated coconut for this. Buy a coconut, crack it with a good whack or two from a hammer, dig out the coconut with a screwdriver, peel away brown stuff, grate it and go to town. Your work will be well-rewarded.


For the pie:

  • 1 1/2 cups evaporated milk

  • 1 1/2 cups water

  • 1 tablespoon butter

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1/4 cup fresh grated coconut

  • 5 tablespoons cornstarch

  • 4 egg yolks

  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 9-inch baked pie shell

    For the meringue:

  • 6 egg whites

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 cup sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

  • Grated coconut for garnish

    In a saucepan, combine milk, water, butter, sugar and coconut. Bring to a boil; turn down heat to medium. In a small bowl, whisk together cornstarch, egg yolks and vanilla extract, then whisk into hot milk-coconut mixture. Cook for 5 minutes, whisking to combine. Cool.

    Meanwhile, make meringue: With an electric mixer, mix together egg whites, salt, sugar and cream of tartar until mixture forms stiff peaks.

    Preheat broiler. Place oven rack on second shelf. Pour coconut cream filling into pie crust, mound meringue on top, top with coconut garnish and broil 5 to 10 minutes until meringue is lightly browned. Don't get distracted; meringue can go from lightly browned to a cinder in moments!

    Makes 8 servings.

  • Per serving: 400 calories, 22 g fat, 12 g saturated fat, 120 mg cholesterol, 400 mg sodium, 42 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 25 g sugar, 9 g protein

    Send recipes and requests to: Wanda A. Adams, Food Editor, The Advertiser, P.O. Box 3110, Honolulu, HI 96802; wadams@honoluluadvertiser.com; or fax 525-8055.

    Send recipes and queries to Wanda A. Adams, Food Editor, Honolulu Advertiser, P.O. Box 3110, Honolulu, HI 96802. Fax: 525-8055. E-mail: wadams@honoluluadvertiser.com.

    For more information about our 150th anniversary cookbook, call 535-8189 (message phone; your call will be returned). You can order the cookbook online.