Triple Coconut Tart with Berries

July 4th Tart

July 4th in her city – there’s nothing safe nor sane about it. It starts early in the morning with fire crackers, cherry bombs and M80s and increases throughout the day to a crescendo of sky rockets and mortars with skyward explosions akin to a war zone, putting Disneyland’s nightly display to shame. By 10 p.m., a sulfuric haze has blanketed the city and she’s thankful her roof hasn’t caught fire.

Her dog-owning neighbors hate this time of year. She, on the other hand, delights in it, lucky to be owned by two unruffled felines. This one night, her city is alive and decidedly lawless. She celebrates with a backyard party each year – more anarchistic that patriotic, except for her choice of dessert.


Triple Coconut Tart with Berries

  • Servings: One 9” Tart
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Coconut in the crust, and coconut milk and shredded coconut in the pastry cream ensures coconut lovers won’t be disappointed.


Ingredients

    Coconut Pastry Crème
  • 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 Tablespoons corn starch
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup plus 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Graham Cracker Crust
  • 7.5 oz. Graham crackers (2 cups crumbs)
  • 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

Directions

  1. Make coconut pastry crème: In a medium sauce pan, whisk together flour, corn starch, salt, and sugar. Whisk in eggs, then milk, coconut milk, and shredded coconut. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly until custard is very thick, about 7 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.
  2. Make graham cracker crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a food processor, pulse graham crackers, coconut and salt until ground into crumbs. Add butter and pulse until combined and beginning to clump together. Press in the bottom and up sides of a 9” tart pan. Bake for 10-15 minutes until lightly browned. Cool.
  3. To assemble: Pour pastry crème 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.

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Mini Fruit Tartlets

Fruit Tarts

I’m thrilled to talk about love today. Not my love, but other’s love – young love. To the surprise of both families and their friends, my best friend’s daughter eloped last month. I couldn’t be prouder for the happy couple; they did things in their own style, traditions that mean nothing to them be damned. Auntie Julie approves of any system-bucking in the name of Love! The parents of the newlyweds are hosting a “ring ceremony” in two weeks. I’m not exactly sure what a “ring ceremony” is, but I have an inkling it’s a sort of olive branch from the couple to their families for eschewing the expected. As a guest, I imagine it’s a kind of wedding-lite.

My friend asked me to make six dozen fruit tartlets for the occasion – the new bride’s favorite dessert. It’s an honor – I’m happy to be able to use my talents in such a special way. I’ve been around since the beginning – watching a little girl blossom into an independent woman who knows her own mind – and especially her own heart. I worked on the recipe this weekend (and last) and finally (after three crust versions, two pastry crème versions, and both white and dark chocolate) decided on this recipe.

Congratulations to the happy couple!


Mini Fruit Tartlets

This recipe makes a lot of tartlets – feel free to cut it in half if you don’t need quite so many. A layer of white chocolate between crust and pastry crème helps keep the crust crisp.

Ingredients

    Shortbread Pastry Shells
  • 5 ⅓ cups All-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ cups sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon zest
  • 5 sticks unsalted butter, melted (Yikes!)
  • Vanilla Pastry Crème
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • ¾ cup sugar, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 4 egg yolk
  • 6 Tablespoons corn starch
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla
  • Fruit Tartlets
  • Assorted fruit, sliced and berries
  • 8 oz. white chocolate
  • Apricot jam

Directions

  1. Make pastry shells: Whisk together flour, sugar, salt and lemon zest. Add melted butter and stir together until a soft dough forms. Separate dough into 4 disks, wrap in plastic wrap and rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. Roll dough between two pieces of waxed paper, sprinkling with flour as needed to avoid sticking, to a thickness of 1/8th inch, cut with 3” round cutter and gently place in the bottom of muffin tins (the dough is soft). Chill for 10 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-14 minutes. Cool and remove from tins.
  2. Make Pastry Crème: Heat milk, half the sugar and salt on stovetop. Blend cornstarch and remaining sugar in a bowl. Add eggs and yolks to sugar mixture. Pour hot milk over eggs slowly to temper. Pour mixture back into saucepan. Add butter and vanilla and bring to a simmer while continuously whisking. Cook over low to medium low heat until thickened. Scrape pastry crème into a shallow pan, cover with plastic wrap touching surface of pastry crème, and chill.
  3. Make Tartlets: Melt white chocolate by zapping it in the microwave for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Spread a small bit of chocolate on the bottom of each tartlet shell. Scoop pastry crème into a pastry bag and pipe into tartlet shells. Decorate with fruit. Warm Apricot jam in microwave 30 seconds to 1 minute. Sieve jam and brush over fruit. Chill until ready to serve.

Fruit Tarts

Coffee Caramel Macadamia Pie

Macadiamia Nut Pie
My final pie in the Pie trilogy is a coffee caramel macadamia pie.

Based on last week’s hotel bed eating confession, it’s no surprise to hear that, on a recent business trip to Hawaii, I polished off an entire canister of coffee glazed macadamia nuts while lying in bed. I’m not proud of it, but constant traveling, even to tropical locations, messes with my eating, sleeping, and exercise regimen – but especially my eating. Six hours in coach, 24 hours on Oahu, another plane, 24 hours on Maui and then six hours back home – that is not a vacation. So, when I stumbled into my hotel room, tired and stiff from waking up at 3:30 a.m. and flying across the Pacific in a tin can, is it any wonder that my first act, even before unpacking, was to crack open the comfort food canister of nuts waiting for me in my hotel room?

This pie is inspired by those coffee glaze nuts – a little salty, a bit sweet, with a dash of coffee to compliment the buttery richness of the macadamia nuts…all encased in a flaky pastry crust.

Aloha!


Coffee Caramel Macadamia Pie

  • Servings: One 9” Pie
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This pie is inspired by coffee glaze macadamia nuts – a little salty, a bit sweet, with a dash of coffee to compliment the buttery richness of the nuts.

Ingredients

  • 1 9” pie crust (pre-made if you must, but I recommend homemade)
  • 2 cups roasted unsalted macadamia nuts, roughly chopped
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large yolks
  • ¾ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup light corn syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon instant coffee
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (4 oz.) unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 Tablespoon heavy cream
  • 1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Flaky sea salt

Directions

  1. Preheat to 350 degrees F. Blind bake the crust for about 15 minutes until just beginning to brown. Cool, cover pie crust with macadamia nuts and chill crust until ready to use.
  2. Beat together the eggs, yolks, sugar, corn syrup, instant coffee, and salt. Whisk in the melted butter, heavy cream, flour and vanilla. Pour over macadamia nuts and sprinkle flaky sea salt on top. Bake for 40-50 minutes until the filling is set at the edge but slightly wobbly in the center. Cool pie completely before slicing.

Better than Derby Pie

Chocolate Walnut Pie

The first (and only) time I tried it, I was sprawled across a bed at the Brown Hotel in Louisville.  It was late at night and I was clothed in nothing but a fluffy hotel robe.  I felt guilt – even a bit of shame – over what I was doing.  I intended to save it, save it until I arrived home, save it to share with my loved ones.  Yet, there it was between my knees, uncovered, my sticky fingers bringing bits of it to my lips, morsel by morsel, nibble by nibble, the sheets smeared with the evidence – Derby Pie.

I tried to defend my actions – I was starving, room service hours had ended, it has been a taxing day, I couldn’t bring it home on the plane – but nothing, absolutely nothing, could justify eating an entire pie straight from the tin.

I’ve visited Louisville three times in my life and two things about the destination stick in my mind – watching the Kentucky Derby from a private suite (a high point) – and eating nearly an entire  Derby Pie while lying in bed (most certainly a shameful low).

This weekend, 20 thoroughbreds will get the once in a lifetime opportunity to run in the 144th Kentucky Derby and, in tribute, I decided to try my hand at my own version of Derby Pie.  But this one, I promise, I’ll share.

I’m calling my version “Better than Derby Pie” because the Kern’s Kitchen people, who make the trademarked version of Derby Pie, are a litigious bunch (those bastards).


Better than Derby Pie

  • Servings: One 9” Pie
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This pie reminds me of a chewy chocolate chip cookie with walnuts inside a pastry crust.

Ingredients

  • 1 9″ unbaked pie shell (refrigerator or from scratch)
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup Karo syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons Kentucky bourbon
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups toasted walnut pieces
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350⁰. In a medium bowl, beat together the melted butter, brown sugar, Karo syrup, eggs, bourbon, vanilla and salt until frothy. Stir in the flour. Stir in walnut pieces and chocolate chips.
  2. Fill pie crust with filling, ensuring that nuts and chips and spread evenly throughout pie. Bake 45-50 minutes until the topping is firm and golden brown. Transfer pie to wire rack to cool.

Kentucky Derby Pie

Chocolate Pecan Pie

Chocolate Pecan Pie
I have no idea who Mencius was, but he’s attributed with the quote, “The best things in life come in threes.” I decided to make a pie this weekend and it just so happens that my favorite pie crust recipe makes three crusts. Rather than scale the recipe down and attempt to divide a large egg by 3 (50 grams / 3 = 17ish grams), I decided to make a whole batch and go on a pie spree for the week.

A coworker described this first recipe, Chocolate Pecan, as tasting like a candy bar – loaded with toasty nuts but not too sweet. It’s definitely rich; a little goes a long way. Even moi, the consumer of all things dessert, only needed a small slice to satisfy my ever-aching sweet tooth.


Chocolate Pecan Pie

  • Servings: One 9” Pie
  • Print
This crust is adapted from The Pioneer Woman and makes three thin crusts or two crusts with plenty of leftover dough for decorations.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, cut into very small pieces
  • 1 cup Crisco
  • 1 Egg, beaten
  • 5 Tablespoons cold water
  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar
  • 3 cups All-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup Karo syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons Kentucky bourbon
  • ¾ teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups toasted pecan halves
  • ½ cup chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Chill butter and Crisco until very cold by placing both in the freezer for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine egg, water, and vinegar in a small bowl and set aside. Place flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Add butter and Crisco to flour and pulse on/off until mixture resembles coarse meal (you can also combine the flour and fats using a pastry blender if you don’t want to drag out your processor – more effort, less clean-up). Scrape mixture into a large bowl, add egg mixture, and stir until combined. Don’t overwork dough.
  2. Separate the dough into thirds (If you prefer a more substantial crust, separate in half) and roll into balls. Wrap each ball in plastic wrap and freeze for about 15 to 20 minutes to chill. (If you will be storing the dough in the freezer for a longer period, form dough into a disk and seal in a Ziplock bag. Thaw 15 minutes before using).
  3. Meanwhile, make the filling. In a medium bowl, beat together the melted butter, brown sugar, Karo syrup, eggs, bourbon, vanilla and salt until frothy. Stir in pecan halves and set aside.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350⁰. In between two sheets of waxed paper, roll out the crust, starting at the center and working your way out into a 11” – 12” circle. Once the dough is the correct size, peel off the top layer of waxed paper and, using the bottom sheet, transfer the dough to a 9” pie pan. Flip the dough over, peel off the bottom sheet, and gently press the dough into the pan. Go around the pie pan tucking the dough to make a clean edge and then crimp. Freeze for 15 minutes.
  5. Remove the crust from the freezer. Sprinkle with chocolate chips and cover with filling. Bake 40-50 minutes until the topping is firm and dark golden brown. Transfer pie to wire rack to cool. Cut yourself a slide – you done good.

a slice of chocolate pecan pie