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Picture of Escher Inspired Taro-Coconut Custard Pie

Who cares about π?

Let me break some news to you that you may not like:

There is no inherent value in the order of digits, 3 1 4 1 5 9 2.. nor is there in the shape of the greek letter π.

That sequence of digits: “three one four one five… ” is really just a representation of the constant in our base 10 number system. In base 12, it would be written as 3.1848… , and in binary (base 2), it would be written as 11.001001… If humans had evolved with 8 fingers, perhaps we’d be calling it 3.11037… Needless to say, pi(e) in any other base would taste as sweet!

Pi is not just valuable for it’s status as symbol of math itself, but more so for the wonderful, useful properties it possesses and the way it always seems to pop up unexpectedly in every situation in the most mysterious way. Since ancient times, humans have understood how vital this constant is, even if they didn’t know the myriad ways it would be used in the future. Even the ancient Egyptians had a approximated value for pi, almost 4,000 years ago.

But let’s get to the main event.

Today I’ll be showing you how to make a Taro-Coconut custard pie with a sugar cookie tessellation inspired by a design from the talented M. C. Escher, my favorite artist, and someone who employed mathematics heavily to much success in his work.

Let’s get started.

Step 1: Design

Picture of Design

For this pie, I wanted to try introducing some taro into a creamy custard base. Taro, a vegetable mostly unknown in the western world, is a classic in Asian cuisine. Although this thick tuber may appear intimidating, it can be cooked exactly like a potato, although I assure you it tastes completely unlike a potato. Taro has a nutty, warm vanilla-ey flavor that pairs well with coconut, which together form the backbone of the filling. I enhanced the flavor with several extracts, and enhanced the color with natural purple colorants made from reduced pea flower and hibiscus teas.

For the decoration on top, what better way to honor the dynamic duo of math and art than with a sugar cookie tessellation? This specific design is from Regular Division of the Plane No.99, “Flying Fish”, an ink and watercolor piece by M. C. Escher. To quickly cut out the units, I will make a custom cookie cutter, which is pretty easy to make with some patience and caution. To make the pattern pop, the entire surface will be “inked” with black royal frosting.

Throughout this recipe, π will infiltrate this Instructable, asserting its dominance as a number to be reckoned with. Be on the lookout for these interludes! You can choose to skip them if you just want the food, but those who stay will be rewarded with some interesting nuggets.

So, then, let’s begin!

Congratulations on your much deserved win! The taro was total click-bait for me. I grew up on taro! But Escher and the calculations and tesselations all made me stay and follow you. This is quite possibly the most thoughtfully written pie recipe I've seen. :)
JavierL90 (author)  paperplateandplane4 months ago
What a lovely thing to say! Thank you :)
WUVIE4 months ago
Wow! Taro! I'll never be able to think of this as anything but Elephant Ear Pie, too cool!
You put quite a lot of work into this Instructable, both the pie, and the write up. Fabulous! Best of luck in the contest. :-)
JavierL90 (author)  WUVIE4 months ago
Thank you!!
jessyratfink4 months ago
The pie looks absolutely fantastic and I love the math interludes :D
JavierL90 (author)  jessyratfink4 months ago
Haha I'm glad somebody appreciated those!
This looks fantastic, sounds tasty, and I've never seen a taro before so thank you for showing me what it looks like :)