Strawberry season is in full swing here in southern California and just about every vendor at my local farmers market was displaying these beauties when I visited on Saturday. We were having friends for dinner on Sunday and I had planned on making strawberry shortcake but something came over me and I knew I had to make a dessert with coconut! I had planned an Indian menu and I felt that the coolness of coconut would be perfect after the subtle spice of the Indian dishes. Perusing my recipe file I came across a recipe for a coconut tart that my mother had given me and so I called her just to see whether she had any advice. Well-she did! She hated the crust she used and after talking with her I decided to check Epicurious for inspiration. I came across a recipe for a coconut cream tart and set off for the grocery store to get the ingredients. After I returned home I started reading the comments posted with this recipe and it seems that I lot of people had trouble with the custard so I decided to use the epicurious crust and my mom’s custard. Great choice! The tart was delicious and the perfect foil for our spicy meal.
7 ounces shortbread cookies, like Lorna Doone
1/2 stick butter (4 ounces), melted
1-1/4 cups sweetened, flaked coconut
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Pulse cookies in food processor to a fine crumb. Add coconut and melted butter and process. Press crumbs into bottom and up sides a 9″ fluted tart pan with a removable bottom. Bake in center of oven for about 15 minutes, until golden.
2 cups whole milk
1 cup sweetened, flaked coconut
1/2 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla
Heat milk over medium heat with coconut for about 10 minutes (do not boil). Strain to remove coconut (discard coconut) and return milk to saucepan over heat. Beat eggs with sugar and cornstarch. Add a little of the warm milk to eggs and mix. Slowly pour egg mixture into milk while constantly whisking. Cook until thickened and starts to boil. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla and cover surface with wax paper (or plastic wrap) to prevent skin from forming. Chill custard for hour. Spread in cooled crust and refrigerate, covered. This can be done up to 6 hours ahead.
1/2 cup coconut (toasted in oven at 350 degrees about 6 minutes, until brown)
1 cup whipping cream (whip with 1 tablespoon confectioners sugar)
Spread whipped cream over custard and sprinkle with toasted coconut. Serves 8.