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cuckoo for coconut

Recipe: toasted coconut custard tart

It’s been snowing on and off since last week. Exciting, right? But you can’t go ski just any snow. We had received several inches of fluffy, dry snow on top of bare ground, which meant there was no base to speak of. Rather than being overeager and rutting my skis, I opted for a trail run when we finally got out of single digits. I’m so glad I waited, because the sun came out and helped pack down the snow on the trails, and then we got more snow. What a lovely pair of words… MORE SNOW. Despite 11°F and nasty winds over the weekend, we got our first ski tour of the season in (rather late) and it was fantastic!


rosy sunrise

the sun is far more welcome in winter

jeremy makes his way through snowy trees

so happy that winter finally decided to show up



Snow on the ground is a wonderful thing. Jeremy and I began longing for ski season about 2 weeks after our last ski tour in mid may. Despite all of the trail running and hiking and biking and backpacking of summer, I feel like I’m stronger in winter. I burn more calories, too! We don’t feel as guilty indulging in a little dessert during the cold weather months. But even if you aren’t a ski dork like me, I tell you what – this toasted coconut custard tart is worth making and eating. Just give yourself an extra hour of walking.

for the tart crust: egg, butter, salt, flour, confectioner’s sugar

pulse the butter into the dry ingredients

drizzle in some egg yolk

the dough should clump together, but remain grainy



The tart crust is a sweet, delicate, and crumbly-textured crust – a pâté sablée. My 9-inch tart pan was a little too shallow, so I used a taller 3-inch high tart pan with removable bottom. The dough pressed in beautifully, but after baking it did pull away in places leaving a few cracks. You can patch that with extra dough half-way through baking, but I didn’t bother. As it turned out, the crust – while quite fragile – held together nicely.

butter the pan

press the dough into the pan

butter one side of a piece of foil

line the frozen crust with the foil (buttered-side down)



The crust can be made a day ahead and the custard can be prepared up to three days in advance. Flavored with rum and toasted coconut, this custard becomes a rich, thick, delicious filling for the tart. The most important part of the custard-making process is to temper the egg yolks with hot milk. That is, add a little bit of hot milk to the mixture and fully incorporate it with the eggs and repeat until the mixture is uniform. This method, as opposed to pouring all of the hot milk in at once, will prevent cooking the eggs and/or developing lumps in what should be a silky smooth custard.

butter, eggs, sugar, rum, milk, toasted coconut, salt, cornstarch, vanilla

whisk the cornstarch, salt, sugar, and egg yolks together

temper with hot milk



The custard should be nice and thick, but it will continue to thicken when chilled. And if you can only find raw shredded coconut, it’s easy enough to toast in your oven. I sprinkled mine on a baking sheet lined with foil and baked the coconut for about 10 minutes at 350°F. For a lighter toast, take the coconut out a little earlier. It’s best to keep your eye on the shreds as they go from untoasted to very toasted in no time.

add rum to the custard

whisk in the butter

stir in the coconut



When the tart crust is completely cooled and the custard is thoroughly chilled (either in the refrigerator or like I did – out on my snowy deck in sub-freezing temperatures), you can prepare the whipped topping. If making the tart in advance, wait to make the whipped topping until you are ready to serve the tart.

rum, vanilla extract, confectioner’s sugar, cream, and toasted coconut (for garnish)

add the flavorings and sugar to the whipped cream (medium peaks) and beat to stiff peaks

fill the tart shell with coconut custard

spread the whipped cream on top

garnish with toasted coconut



Structurally, I thought this tart might be a disaster with such a delicate crust and a potentially oozy filling. You know how you slice a pie or a tart and all the filling drains out? Not with this tart. It’s solid, beautiful, holds its shape, and every bite is absolutely delicious. I assumed that Jeremy was not going to want to eat much of this as he has never expressed much love for coconut. But after he took a bite and then watched me pack 70% of the tart to give to our neighbors with such sad eyes, I realized that this is a particularly excellent recipe and dessert. It’s not overly sweet and yet it will satisfy that sweet craving. It tastes light and airy, but a little goes a long way. This could be a great option for a holiday table – I highly recommend it.

a tasty way to tart your day

dreamy creamy fluffy sweetness



Toasted Coconut Custard Tart
[print recipe]
from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

sweet tart shell
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/4 tsp salt
9 tbsps unsalted butter, frozen/cold and cut into small pieces
1 egg yolk

toasted coconut custard
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
6 large egg yolks
1/3 cup cornstarch, sifted
pinch of salt
2 tbsps dark rum
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 1/2 tbsps unsalted butter, cold and cut into small pieces
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut, lightly toasted

whipped cream topping
1 cup heavy cream, cold
3 tbsps confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp dark rum
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
toasted coconut for garnish

Make the tart crust: Place the flour, confectioner’s sugar, and salt in a food processor fitting with a metal blade. Pulse briefly to mix. Distribute the butter pieces over the flour and pulse until the mixture has pieces no bigger than a pea. Stir the egg yolk and drizzle a little at a time over the flour mixture, pulsing after each addition. Then pulse in 10 second increments until the dough begins to clump. Turn the dough out onto a work surface and lightly knead it (just barely) to incorporate any dry ingredients. It should be pretty crumbly, but if you press it together it will hold. Butter a 9-inch tart pan (I recommend something at least 2-inches high) with a removable bottom. Gently press the crust into the pan and up the sides while still maintaining its crumbly texture. Reserve any leftover dough to patch up cracks during baking. Freeze the crust in the tart pan for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375°F and butter the shiny side of a piece of foil large enough to cover the inside of the tart crust. Fit the buttered-side down onto the frozen crust dough tightly. Bake for 25 minutes on a baking sheet (in case any butter leaks from the crust). Remove the foil, pressing down any puffy parts of the dough and filling any cracks with extra dough. Continue baking for another 8 minutes. Keep the crust in the pan and let it cool. This can be made a day ahead.

Make the custard: Pour the milk into a small saucepan and bring it to a boil. In a medium saucepan, whisk the granulated sugar, egg yolks, cornstarch, and salt together until thick and blended (mine looked clumpy, but blended). Temper the egg mixture with the hot milk by adding a slow stream of about a quarter cup at a time, whisking the liquid into the egg mixture until thoroughly combined. When half of the milk is added to the egg mixture, you can whisk in the rest in a slow, steady stream. Set the pan over medium heat and stir it until it comes to a boil. Let it boil for 1-2 minutes while still stirring (get the corners of the pan too) – it should be thick. Turn off the heat and whisk in the rum and vanilla. Let the custard sit for 5 minutes, then whisk in the butter until the custard is silky and smooth. Stir in the toasted coconut. Refrigerate (or put it on the snow on your deck) until completely chilled. This can be made up to 3 days ahead.

Make the whipped topping: Whip the heavy cream to medium peaks. Add the confectioner’s sugar, dark rum, and vanilla extract. Whip the cream to stiff peaks. This should be made just prior to serving.

Assemble the tart: Whisk the custard to loosen it and pour it into the baked tart shell. Smooth it evenly in the crust. Top the custard with the whipped cream. Sprinkle with toasted coconut. It’s best to serve the day of making it (but it tasted pretty great the following day, too). Serves 6-8.


more goodness from the use real butter archives

toasted coconut ice cream coconut macaroons lemon tart pear frangipane tart

11 nibbles at “cuckoo for coconut”

  1. Kristin says:

    Hmmm…..I have one who is not fond of coconut but, if Jeremy liked it, perhaps we should give it a try! And I think I’m going to a cookware shop tomorrow who would have the appropriate tart pan. I usually love Dorie’s recipes, though I’ve made 2 loaf cakes in the past week from Baking Chez Moi that were just ok. Just confirmation that we are not a house of cake fans I guess.

  2. Rocky Mountain Woman says:

    We had our first real snow over the weekend and it was so pretty! I’m more excited about this pie, though…

  3. Eileen says:

    I would never have thought to put coconut and custard together in tart form — but I am certainly thinking of it now! This sounds so delicious!

  4. Kurt says:

    May I say YUM!

  5. dina says:

    i’ve been wanting to make a coconut custard pie. this looks delicious!

  6. Rachael | Spache the Spatula says:

    Oh gush, coconut is one of my all-time fave flavors, and I looove it with custard! This looks UH-MAZING

  7. Kath the Cook says:

    wow wow wow… must make

  8. jenyu says:

    Kristin – Huh, I haven’t looked at the recipe in that book yet, but I do know that most of Dorie’s recipes are pretty good according to the Tuesdays with Dorie group (they baked through her whole book and then some, I think). If your person doesn’t like coconut, skip the coconut and use chocolate instead :)

    Rocky Mountain Woman – yay!!!

    Eileen – oh, it’s LOVELY.

    Kurt – :)

    dina – this is such a winner, I hope you love it.

    Rachael – definitely make this, if you love coconut. It’s so good!

    Kath – yes!!

  9. Dinh says:

    This recipe looks amazing. Can I leave the tart in the pan rather than removing it? I don’t have a removable bottom tart pan.

  10. jenyu says:

    Dinh – yes, you can totally leave it in the pan as long as your pan is safe to cut the tart in. It’s just a matter of presentation, but this tart is so good no one will care ;)

  11. Dinh says:

    Thanks, Jen. I will use my glass pie dish then! Can’t wait to make it tonight.

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