Still searching for the perfect end to your holiday meal? Something a little bit out of the ordinary that doesn't take too much effort? Well, if you love coconut and a creamy dreamy custardy filling sitting atop an easy to make flaky pastry tart, then you're in luck! Have I got a recipe for you!
I'm a huge coconut lover, especially when it's toasted and this pie has the added appeal of toasted coconut not just topping the whipped cream as a garnish, but actually being layered throughout the custard filling as well. The crunchy sweetness of the coconut combined with the creaminess of the custard is a terrific combination!
First you make the sweet tart dough, which is easily mixed in the food processor and only needs to be chilled for a couple of hours before you roll it out--
Then, you pre-bake the crust in the tart pan, so the crust is light and flaky, with none of that gumminess that sometimes happens when you don't pre-bake. You use pie weights or beans (classy, aren't I?) to make sure the crust doesn't bubble up and crack while it cooks.
As your tart shell is cooling, you make the filling, heating the milk with some of the coconut and letting it sit for about 10 minutes, so that the custard itself, is infused with delicious coconut flavor.
Once the custard cools and chills for a little while, it's just a simple matter of layering the toasted coconut in the tart shell with the custard and topping the whole thing off with mountains of whipped cream and even more coconut. Plus, you can make it early in the day and have your dessert covered. Most of all it's scrumptious, creamy, full of coconut flavor and surprisingly light, the perfect end to a decadent holiday dinner (or anytime really).
Coconut Cream Tart
Prep Time: 20 minutes for pre-baking tart dough (plus 2 hours at least for chilling dough), 30 minutes to make custard filling, (plus at least 45 minutes to chill pie after assembling)
For the Sweet Tart Dough
- 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- Pinch of salt
- 9 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1 large egg
For the Filling
- 1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
- 2 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- Pinch of salt
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup heavy cream
1. To make the tart dough: Sift together the confectioners' sugar, flour and salt into a bowl.
2. Put the butter in the bowl of the food processor and blend for 15 seconds till smooth. Sprinkle the flour mixture all around over the butter, add the egg and process just until the dough sort of comes together-don't over mix. Remove the dough and on the counter divide it into two. Shape each half into a flattened disc, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours and preferably overnight. If you're not going to use the second half right away, you can wrap it well and freeze it for up to a month.
3. Remove the dough from the fridge and let stand at room temperature for about half an hour to soften. Meanwhile, lightly butter a 9 or 10 inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom.
4. On a wooden board, or other surface, sprinkle some flour. Then sprinkle the dough lightly with flour as well as your rolling pin and roll out the dough into a 12 inch circle. Make sure that as you are rolling you lift the dough and re-flour the surface a bit as it has a tendency to stick. Transfer it to the prepared pan and press it into the sides, removing any dough that hangs over the top of the pan. Prick the dough all over with a fork and chill the pan for about 20 minutes.
5. Preheat oven to 325ºF and remove dough from fridge. Lightly butter a piece of aluminum foil large enough to line the inside of the pan and place it over the dough, buttered side down, fill it with pie weights, rice or dried beans and bake for about 15 minutes. Then remove the foil and the weights and bake for 8-10 more minutes until tart shell is golden brown all over. Cool completely on a wire rack.
6. To make the filling: Preheat oven to 350ºF. Toast 3/4 cup of the coconut on a baking sheet, for 5-7 minutes or until golden. Set aside.
7. In a medium pan, heat 2 cups of the milk and rest of untoasted coconut, until the milk begins to simmer. Remove from the heat, cover the pan and let it stand for about 10 minutes. Then strain the coconut using a sieve, discard the coconut and return the milk to the same pan.
8. In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, salt, yolks, and remaining 1/2 cup of milk. Gradually whisk the mixture into the milk already in the pan. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture begins to thicken. Can take anywhere from 3-5 minutes. Whisk for 1 more minute. Then remove from the heat and transfer the custard to a medium bowl and stir in the vanilla. Cover with plastic wrap pressed up against the surface and refrigerate until cool, about 45 minutes.
9. Using an electric mixer, whip the cream at medium speed, until soft peaks appear.
10. To assemble the tart: Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the toasted coconut on the crust. Spoon in the custard, slightly mounding it in the center. Sprinkle another 1/4 cup toasted coconut over that. Then top with the whipped cream and sprinkle the remaining coconut on top. Refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to one day. Remove sides and transfer to a plate. Serve immediately.
Note: Sweet Tart Dough from Simply Sensational Desserts by Francois Payard; Filling adapted from Everyday Food, 2006 by Martha Stewart.