That Dessert You Can’t Forget

Day 24 - Coconut Cream Pie Illustration Watercolor - Doodlewash

Last night, when our friend Aesha came over, we ended up chatting for a bit about desserts that our mothers used to make. I told her that my favorite was coconut cream pie and she looked at me blankly, saying she didn’t think she’s ever had that. She told me that her mother made a pineapple cream pie that she loved. Then it was my turn to deliver the blank look. We started to describe these wondrous childhood treats and realized they were the exact same things with a different fruit. It was just a pre-made graham cracker crust, some vanilla Jello brand pudding, and Cool Whip. No doubt clipped from a magazine or on the box of one of the store-bought ingredients. It was in the pudding and the toppings where all of the magic happened. For me, it was coconut flakes and, for her, it was bits of pineapple. For both of us, it was an unforgettable and wonderful childhood memory, ranking as our favorite dessert during that time. Even though it was basically the pie equivalent of a casserole with even less involvement, it was an amazing treat! And though, I definitely love desserts, to this day, its the rarity of a particular food that always makes it the most special to me.

When Philippe and I are visiting Paris, we always have café gourmand, that incredible sampling of tiny desserts so nobody has to go through the pain of choosing just one. And though we tried to replicate the experience at home, we soon gave up trying, leaving it yet another rare occurrence. I’m secretly happy that it happened this way as it’s wonderful to have a special dish to look forward to when traveling as well. At home, I have lots of favorite dishes, but Philippe rarely ever replicates them and continually morphs his recipes over time. This has had the unintended effect of making each and every dish memorable since it’s quite likely that it will be the last time I’ll ever eat it. The other foods that rocket to the top of the list always have to do with the holidays. These are the annual dishes that only occur once a year. Only subtle improvements or changes are made to these, as they are meant to stay in their original form. And though my current food is all expertly crafted by my chef of a husband, I still have fond memories of those childhood treats that left a bit desired on the nutritional front. For example, my mother and I would, on rare celebratory occasions, get a pepperoni pizza with extra cheese from Pizza Hut and then watch the original broadway version of Sunday In The Park With George we’d recorded on PBS with a VHS tape.

In every case, the food itself was a supporting character in a beautiful play starring my own lovely friends and family. And that’s not really changed to this day. Each time I find myself with a loving memory about a particular dish, what I’m actually reminiscing about is the moment in which it occurred. A moment with my mother, a best friend, or my lovely husband. These moments with the people I adore most make me adore the food involved and elevate it to a status of being the most memorable of all. Like this ridiculously simply coconut cream pie. It’s not the world’s most amazing dessert and one that would cause chefs everywhere to cringe upon hearing the ingredients. But, on a Saturday in the 70’s and early 80’s, after I’m returning home after having a rough day at school, it’s the most beautiful thing in the world. An unexpected expression of love, from a mother who always wanted to make me smile, and always knew the precise moment it was needed. Though the ingredients were ready-to-go and took no time at all to prepare, it was the final ingredient that made it matter. It was simply love. The same special ingredient that each of us will always find in that dessert you can’t forget.

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About the Doodlewash

Da Vinci Paint Co.: Aureolin, Terra Cotta, and Indigo. Lamy Al-Star Safari Fountain Pen with black ink in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!
Coconut Cream Pie Illustration Watercolor - Doodlewash
Recommended5 recommendationsPublished in By Charlie
45 Comments
  1. Sandra Strait 3 months ago

    Oh yes! I remember the coconut cream pie – and my mom made it with both coconut AND pineapple. An embarrassment of riches!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Oh wow! Thanks so awesome, Sandra! 😃💕I’ll have to tell Aesha! Sounds amazing! And also… try it!! lol

  2. StickyMangoRice 3 months ago

    Your blog is wonderful. Love seeing your new posts.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Thanks so much! 😃💕I’m so thrilled you’re enjoying them!

  3. memadtwo 3 months ago

    Luckily both my daughters love to bake as I’m hopeless. My mother made a great cheesecake. Nothing like a graham cracker crust! (K)

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Yum! I adore cheesecake! 😃💕And yay for having others in our lives who can bake! lol

  4. Lisa 3 months ago

    My favorite dessert as a kid, and now, is strawberry shortcake. The only thing that has changed is that as a kid, my mom would buy those four to a pack spongy yellow cakes from the grocery store. These days I make a sour cream cake from the recipe I got from Joe’s mom. And there is no holding back when we have strawberry shortcake. You can only have it in June when local berries are ripe. Or in the winter if you froze some of those summer jewels. So you split the cake in half. Put vanilla ice cream on each half, cover with a ladle of sweetened sliced berries and juice. Then, mound on some whipped cream because it’s best that way. I know I don’t have to justify whipped cream to you but some people have challenged me on the ice cream and whipped cream combo. They think, mistakenly, that one or the other is enough! They have no idea what they are saying, and I feel a little sorry for them. Just saying!

    • June Hadaway 3 months ago

      I totally agree. I love your message Lisa.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      This is why we are friends!! hehe! 😃💕 YES to all of the above. I honestly couldn’t even get through all of the scrumptious description without drooling on my keyboard. That sounds like perfect bliss!!

  5. LoriCtoo 3 months ago

    Love the pie story shared between two friends. So cute. Of course your pie sketch looks good enough to eat!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Thanks so much, Lori! 😃💕 One day we shall enjoy a slice of pie together! Whenever we have that meetup people have asked me about. 😊

      • LoriCtoo 3 months ago

        Ohhh, I think that would be fun!

  6. Sharon Nolfi 3 months ago

    Yes! My mom made coconut cream pie, too. It was yummy, along with her banana cream pie. Wonderful memories!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Yay to that, Sharon! 😃💕 the cream pie was such a staple! I loved them all! My mom made banana as well, but for some reason the coconut one become my favorite.

  7. June Hadaway 3 months ago

    A lovely slice of pie you painted. It definitely looks good enough to eat. Coconut cream and banana cream pies were my husband’s favorite. I sure miss making them for him. Enjoy every bite while you can.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Thanks so much, June! 😃💕I wish I had one of these in front of me. This one was sketched totally from memory. Philippe is one of those “chefs” who turns his nose up as this recipe. I’ve challenged him to make his own version, but I’m still waiting for him to take me up on it. 😊

      • June Hadaway 3 months ago

        In case you get weak, Baker’s Square makes the best pies. They are sold at Village Inns in Florida. Not sure if you have one of their restaurants there. They even serve a free slice of pie every Wednesday. The original restaurants were called Baker’s Square. The pies are the same.

        • Author
          Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

          Okay, I just googled them and looks like Baker’s Square is still all over the Midwest, but not in Missouri sadly. 😔

  8. Anita Sinha 3 months ago

    I also love coconut but inside a chocolate like bounty…Although coconut is used in a variety of ways in Indian cuisine..In Bangalore coconut trees are found everywhere..

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Awww… coconut in chocolate is pure bliss!! 😃💕 Yum!! And so awesome to have coconut trees everywhere. It’s such a wonderful thing!

  9. nerueru 3 months ago

    I love this post. Not ashamed to say I’m biased towards foodwriting 😉 I guess for me it’s bread pudding as a dessert. When you said food was a supporting character I immediately realized! Pizza from pizzahut/little ceasars. Cheap and delicious and we just ate like pigs because we could and watched entertainment news with mom 🙂 Simple things. Simpler times.

    -Neru

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Thanks so much, Neru! 😃💕Thrilled you enjoyed this post! hehe… yes… sometimes those naughty foods are secretly the best ever! At least when they come with heavy dose of family and love!

  10. Aclumsyteenager 3 months ago

    Oh the litte treats made by moms! They’re just crazy delicious and impossible to replicate no matter how simple or weird they sound! I remember my mom used to make this particular dessert that consisted of a bhakari (an indian bread) and a special type of caramel … and to this day no matter how many times I’ve tried to make it on my own.. I havent even come close to it…

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      So true!!! 😃💕 I think that “love” ingredient is what makes those dessert impossible to replicate! hehe… I had my mother tell me exactly how to make something and it just didn’t taste the same at all!

  11. Laura Hale 3 months ago

    Thank you for sharing delicious art, food and memories with us. Your blog is a treat in itself!

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Thanks, Laura! 😃💕 That’s so sweet of you to say! I’m thrilled you are still enjoying it! It means so much to me!

  12. creatingincolors 3 months ago

    Truth! The best memories are a basic, low cost, delicious meal or dessert eaten at mom or grandmom’s table. No expensive meal at a gourmet restaurant can compare.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Yay to that! 😃💕 Food always tastes better when it’s made by someone you love!

  13. Mary Roff 3 months ago

    Beautiful slice of pie and story. My mom made the best pies ever but unfortunately I didn’t inherit that particular gene. My favorite mom baking memory was the smell of molasses cookies baking when I got home from school.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Thanks so much, Mary! 😃💕 Yeah, I can’t bake a thing! hehe But yay to molasses cookies!! Those and snickerdoodles were my favorite growing up. I was one of the weird kids who didn’t care for chocolate chip as much. 😊

  14. Jodi 3 months ago

    so true! <3

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Thanks, Jodi! 😃💕 Yeah, you just can buy love on the shelf! 😉

  15. Mireya 3 months ago

    Yummy and for me it’s cake

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Thanks so much! 😃💕 Oh, I adore cake as well! hehe… I’ll take a slice!

      • Mireya 3 months ago

        That would be awesome.

  16. smzang 3 months ago

    That looks scrumptious. I had not heard of pineapple cream pie either, but
    it is on my list for my next sinning! If I have pudding in the cupboard that should
    happen in about 30 minutes. I know I have pineapple and I have a can of that
    spray whipped topping. I’m sinning. : )

    The article is delicious too. It warms heart and soul.

    • Author
      Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

      Hehe!! Yep! You have all of the necessary ingredients for a sin! Yum! 😃💕 Now I’m jealous… I drew this one from memory. 😊lol

      • smzang 3 months ago

        I love that new avatar… Sure wish you could watch the Today show (NBC) on Thursday morning. Al Roker has new blue glasses exactly like yours (they appear to be) and he is wearing them tomorrow for the first time on TV.

        • Author
          Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

          What??? Al Roker stole my glasses! lol Actually I just googled it and they’re more demure… hehe… I like to rock a good bit of cobalt teal in mine. 😉

          • smzang 3 months ago

            I just caught a glimpse and immediately hoped they wouldn’t be EXACTLY like yours. I just knew there’d be trouble. : )

          • Author
            Charlie O'Shields 3 months ago

            haha!… there’s plenty of space in this world for people in blue glasses I think! lol 😉

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