I have a problem. It isn't a real problem except that it is – for me. I can't stop making non-essential foods. Foods like cookies, muffins, cakes, and now pies. I swear up, down, and sideways that I will not be baking anymore treats. I tell anyone who will listen that baking just makes it harder for me to maintain my long worked for weight loss. But then I find myself back in the kitchen measuring and mixing. You know what? I'm not sorry. I could go cold turkey if I had to but I don't – so I won't.
I don't think this light summery dessert needs any excuses but just in case I have some good ones ready to go.
Excuse #1: This Piña Colada Pie doesn't actually count as baking because there was no oven required to produce it.
Excuse #2: It came together so quickly I didn't have time to talk myself out of it before the pie was finished.
Excuse #3: Of course as a good Seattleite I could also blame the weather - because we do that here. Rainy days need to be coddled and comforted with cozy foods. Glorious sun-drenched days, like today, must be celebrated with bright refreshing foods.
Whatever the motivation, I think the inspiration must have been divine because who the heck does this on their own? At 5 o' clock I walked into the kitchen opened and closed a few cupboards, grabbed a mixing bowl and a whisk, then clicked on the electric kettle. By 5:15 I had my freshly made pie tucked into the refrigerator and was queueing up The Little Mermaid in the living room. It wasn't for me. It was for The Little Helping. Even though I recited the entire script along with the movie after at least a decade since my last viewing... and now I've said too much. *blushes*
After the S'more Pie I really wanted a lightened "no bake" treat that would hold its shape at room temperature. Don't get me wrong that S'more Pie was killer but it needs to hang close to the freezer to maintain its visual appeal. This Piña Colada Pie also uses pudding but no milk and the addition of a packet of unflavored gelatin allows it to sit on the table and look pretty once it has set up in the refrigerator.
This light and simple filling doesn't need to go into a pie crust. Now that I have made it once I have a few kernels of ideas to turn it into individual desserts too. One idea is a simple vanilla wafer cookie at the bottom of a glass with some pie filling poured over the top. Then chilled like the larger version. Just thinking out loud (and drooling on my keyboard).
I love puzzles and I love approaching food preparation like it is a puzzle. What foods work well together? How can I achieve the flavors I crave while balancing the nutritional values? What is both cost effective and indulgent? Finding solutions to these culinary puzzles means easier weight maintenance, more interesting meals, and best of all more pie - no excuses required.
Piña Colada Pie Filling
This pie is a marvelous summertime treat. It is a little creamy, very fruity, sweet but not overly so, and light both on the tongue and in the tummy. Once all the ingredients have been assembled this pie filling comes together in less than 10 minutes. For a quick and easy pie crust use a store bought graham cracker crust. For individual desserts use short tumblers or parfait glasses and pair with a simply flavored crunchy cookie. The finished pie can be stored covered in the refrigerator for several days.
Makes 6 - 8 servings of pie filling. Prep time: 10 minutes, Chilling Time: 3 hrs. to overnight.
- 1 packet of unflavored gelatin
- 1 cup of boiling water
- 1 20 oz. can of crushed pineapple
- ½ cup of shredded coconut - plus a pinch more for garnish
- ¾ teaspoon coconut extract
- ¾ teaspoon rum extract
- 1 packet of vanilla flavored instant pudding mix - sugar free & fat free variety
- Dissolve the gelatin with boiling water in a heat safe medium sized bowl. Use a whisk or a fork to stir the gelatin while it dissolves making sure to eliminate any lumps. Give it five minutes to dissolve fully and cool slightly, whisking occasionally throughout.
- After five minutes have passed add the entire can of pineapple (undrained). Use a whisk of a fork to make sure it is fully mixed into the dissolved gelatin.
- Add the remaining ingredients; coconut, flavor extracts, and vanilla pudding mix. Mix well to fully blend all the ingredients.
- Pour finished pie filling into a prepared crust or dessert dishes.
- Chill the finished dessert for a minimum of 3 hours up to overnight.
Serving = ⅛ of filling - Approximate Nutritional Information: 81 calories, 1.5 g. fat, 15 g. carbs, .9 g. fiber, .8 g. protein, PP = 2
Pie as pictured* with reduced fat graham cracker crust: 181 calories, 5 g. fat, 30 g. carbs, 1 g. fiber, 2 g. protein, PP = 5
*Confession: the pie pictured was made with a chocolate crumb crust but the flavor was completely overwhelmed by the party that is the Piña Colada filling. Go with the reduced fat graham version to enjoy the texture but skip the additional fat.