This is my mom's recipe with just a tiny change. It's a beautiful pie - I used whipped topping instead of meringue at the specific request of the person I was making the pie for. It's my preference, too. :)
1COOK'S NOTE: This is actually pretty easy to make - but I do recommend that you have all ingredients within easy reach and pre-measured out since you must constantly stir the mixutre to avoid scorching.
In order to make tempering the eggs easy, I separated the yolks in advance and placed them in a medium sized bowl. Once the mixture was ready, I added about 2 large spoonfuls (I was using a large mixing spoon) into the eggs, stirring them quickly, and then poured the egg mixture back into the sauce pan, and again, stirred immediately.
2Now, on with the recipe...
In medium to large sauce pan, combine the sugar, flour and salt. Gradually add milk, stirring to combine well. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until bubbly. Cook and stir for 2 more minutes. Remove from heat. Stir a small amount of the mixture into the bowl with the yolks (see note in step 1), and then immediately pour yolk mixture back into sauce pan. Add coconut, return to heat and cook additional two minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; add butter and vanilla. Combine well. Pour into cooked pie shell.
3Refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Top with whipped topping and toasted (completely cooled) coconut flakes. Keep refrigerated.
4To toast coconut flakes: Place 1/2 cup of coconut onto a cookie sheet or any oven-safe dish. Cook at 350 for 7 - 12 minutes until lightly browned.