July 4th in my city – there’s nothing safe nor sane about it. It starts weeks prior with the random M80 explosion rocking the neighborhood, usually at 4:00 a.m., as well as the testing of mortar rockets at 7:30 a.m. before the culprits head off to work. By the time dawn breaks on the 4th, an alarm clock isn’t needed to wake me from my slumber. Fire crackers, Piccalo Petes, and cherry bombs ensure I’m out of bed by 9:00 a.m. The cacophony increases throughout the day to a crescendo of illegal sky rockets and mortars with skyward explosions akin to a war zone, overshadowing any display from my neighbor, Disneyland. The night is punctuated by the howl of fire engines – and we wonder, “Has someone blown off a finger? Has a wayward rocket caused a fire?” By 10 p.m., a sulfuric haze has blanketed the city and I’m thankful my roof is still intact. The next morning, a tour of my backyard reveals a smattering of detritus from the festivities – charred end caps from the mortars and thin red sticks from the sky rockets.
My dog-owning neighbors hate this time of year. I, on the other hand, delight in this reminder of my childhood and consider myself lucky to be owned by two unruffled felines, no matter how loud the blasts. This one night, my city is alive and decidedly lawless. The neighborhood celebrates with a backyard party each year – more anarchistic that patriotic, except for my choice of dessert.
Triple Coconut Tart with Berries
Coconut in the crust, along with coconut milk and shredded coconut in the pastry cream ensures coconut lovers won’t be disappointed.
- Coconut Pastry Cream
- 3 Tablespoons corn starch
- 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup sugar
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup canned coconut milk
- 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract Graham Cracker Crust
- 2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 17 sheets)
- 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup unsalted butter, melted Topping
- Assorted fresh berries
- ¼ cup apricot jam
- Sweetened whipped cream
- Toasted coconut
- Make coconut pastry cream: In a medium sauce pan, whisk together flour, corn starch, salt, and sugar. Whisk in eggs, milk, coconut milk, and shredded coconut. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly until custard is very thick, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat, and whisk in butter and vanilla extract. Scrape into bowl, press plastic wrap against the surface of the custard, and chill in refrigerator for several hours until cool.
- Make graham cracker crust: Preheat oven to 350° F. In a food processor, pulse graham crackers, coconut and salt until ground into crumbs. Add melted butter and pulse until combined and beginning to clump together. Press in the bottom and up sides of a 9” tart pan. Bake for 12-15 minutes until lightly browned. Cool.
- To assemble: Spoon pastry cream into crust and smooth. Cover with fresh berries. Heat apricot jam for 1 minute in microwave and strain. Brush berries with jam, decorate with whipped cream and toasted coconut. Refrigerate until ready to serve.