Friday, November 30, 2012
Creamy - Coconutty - Bliss!
I've rarely thought of myself as competitive but sometimes it creeps up on me. Sweetie tried a small single-person size coconut cream pie at a cafe' near here and went on and on about it. I tried a bite and was not convinced. I told him I could make a much better one (which is about as competitive as you can get!) and yesterday and today I did. This pie...actually a tart in the final version...was going to be part of a late Thanksgiving dinner at dear Natasha's near Sacramento. That never happened since Sweetie wasn't thrilled with the idea of driving for about three hours each way in heavy rain. Rain is wonderful if you don't have to drive a lot in it, right? So I had all the ingredients for the pie/tart and some of them don't keep well. I also have a dear friend with a birthday coming up, so we invited her, and her hubby, to join us for coffee and pie/tart today to celebrate her birthday a little early. Good thing, too, because otherwise Sweetie and I may have eaten a half tart each. It really was that good.
There are various ways to make the cream filling for coconut cream, banana cream, ginger cream or similar flavors. Basically you are making pastry cream. I decided to make a variation on the pastry cream that we put into cream puffs when the Daring Bakers made Gateau St. Honore' in 2007.
It uses both egg yolks and flour, both whole milk and whipping cream. Some gelatin is added, too, which helps stabilize the filling. The recipe calls for whipping egg whites and folding them in but I skipped that step since I wanted the filling to be denser than that. I also added some vanilla. To make it coconut cream I also folded in fresh coconut that had been hand grated a few days before, then stored in the 'fridge.
For the tart shell I used a recipe in Dorie Greenspan's book Baking, from my home to yours. It makes a nice shortbread type crust. This would have been perfect for surviving a trip past Sacramento since it is pretty sturdy, but it is also perfect because the buttery crispness makes a wonderful contrast to the creamy, coconutty bliss of the filling. Once the filling had chilled after being spooned into the tart shell, I topped it with dollops of whipped cream and a sprinkle of toasted coconut for garnish...and flavor. This really is a special occasion dessert, but worth the effort. Sweetie agreed that it was far better than the one at the cafe'. The good news is that I'll be making another for the trip to Sacramento area in early December. The bad news (for my waistline if nothing else) is that now I know I can make a killer coconut cream tart and will want to prove that again and again. Ah, competition.
Coconut Cream Tart
1 envelope unflavored gelatin (7 gr.)
¼ cup cold water (60 ml)
½ cup + 2 Tablespoons sugar (130 gr)
½ cup all-purpose flour (70 gr)
¼ teaspoon salt
5 egg yolks
2 cups whole milk (500ml)
1 tablespoon rum
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ cup whipping cream (57 gr)
1 3/4 cups lightly toasted fresh coconut, divided
1 9-inch blind baked tart crust, cooled to room temperature
Soak the gelatin in the 1/4 cup of cold water.
Put the sugar, flour, and salt into a saucepan and stir together with a whisk. Add the yolks and enough milk to make a paste. Whisk in the remainder of the milk.
Place over low heat and stirring constantly, cook until thick. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and the gelatin. Stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
Stir in the whipping cream (and rum if using). Set the mixing bowl in cold water and stir until the cream is cool. Fold in 1 1/2 cups of the coconut. Pour into tart or pie crust and spread evenly. Chill until set. Garnish with whipped cream rosettes and rest of coconut. Serve at or close to room temperature for the best flavor.