Coconut Tarts with Buttermilk Custard and Cookie Dough Crust

September 15, 2011

Everyone buys cookbooks with great intentions. Most people follow through with their good intentions, doing awesome things like cookbook clubs, cookbook-centric blogging, and even making sure to use them in their everyday meal-planning efforts. When I first started purchasing/finding/using cookbooks I had great intentions, too. I got, and still get, so excited when perusing pages of delicious treats, thinking about the wonderful things I’d be able make and all the people I could surprise with fresh baked goods. I’m still not sure when it happened, but life came and took over. I brought home cookbooks but left my intentions at the door, and didn’t even try to delude myself into thinking I would have the time to and/or be able to take advantage of the new recipes at my fingertips.

You know what I should have left at the door, instead of my good intentions? My overwhelmingly defeatist attitude. It’s super easy for me to get sucked into that way of thinking and it’s a pretty dangerous attitude to sling over your shoulder and haul around all day. On account of my most recent move, I’ve been doing a lot of organizing and prioritizing. My cookbooks were some of the first things to be relieved of cardboard box confinement and I spent a little bit of time looking over the ones I haven’t really gotten the chance to go through yet. On one hand, I’m kind of miffed for not having gone through them before but, on the other hand, it’s like discovering hidden treasure. No exaggeration. Take, for example, today’s recipe – Buttermilk custard with coconut in a cookie dough crust. Buttermilk and coconut? Pretty much genius. Buttermilk, coconut, and cookie crust? Sold.

I’m falling in love with this book, Great Pies and Tarts, all over again, and I couldn’t be happier! Carole Walter is really an inspiration; her work ethic and seriousness in the face of pie can’t be beat. She includes a hefty – forty pages at least – glossary of all the different fruits available in the US, just so you can go through and pick out for yourself the fruit or combination of fruit you’d most like to put in a pie. She also set up the book with crusts and shells first, then fillings, so you can mix and match if you so desire (while also giving suggestions as to what to put with what). I’m in love with the cookie dough tartlet shell, and plan to use it many, many more times. It’s just so easy, so basic, and SO good! I’m so glad to be able to share this recipe, and my love of this book, and hope that you’ll get to make and enjoy it as well!

PS- Has anyone tried the Cooking with Dorie App for the iPad? Maybe buying an iPad is worth it after all…

Chef’s Cookie Dough for Tartlets

(Recipe adapted from Great Pies and Tarts)

Yields eight 4 ½ inch tartlet shells

Notes: The recipe as written suggests that you can sixteen 4 ½ inch tartlet shells, or two 11 inch shells, but, when I halved the recipe, it only yielded four 4 ½ inch tartlet shells. I might have made the crust a little thick, but I generally like a solid crust to filling ratio. I ran out of cake flour while making the cookie dough crust and substituted the equivalent to ¼ cup in graham cracker crumbs. I enjoyed this textural addition to the dough.


1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

½ cup granulated sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 cups cake flour, sifted


1. Cream butter and sugar just until sugar is fully incorporated.

2. Add egg and vanilla, and stir until ingredients are fully incorporated.

3. Add flour and mix just until dough forms one mass. If making dough by hand, add flour 1/3 cup at a time, mixing with a wooden spoon until dough becomes too difficult to handle. At this point, turn dough onto a clean surface and, with lightly floured hands, knead dough just until dough forms one mass.

4. Shape dough into two 6 inch discs, wrap in plastic, and then chill for at least 15 minutes before use.


Coconut Tarts with Buttermilk Custard

(Recipe adapted from Great Pies and Tarts)

Yields enough filling for eight 4 ½ inch tartlets, or one 11 inch tart (or four 4 ½ inch tartlets and three ½ cup ramekins, for those of us who have trouble remembering to cut recipes in half!)

Notes: I did not cut the recipe for coconut custard in half, like I did with the cookie dough crust, and it left me with more than enough to fill the four tartlet shells. I layered the extra coconut and custard in three small ramekins and baked them in a 350 degree F oven for 20 minutes.


½ recipe Chef’s Cookie Dough for Tartlets, chilled for at least 15 minutes

1 ½ cups granulated sugar (if using sweetened coconut, reduce sugar to 1 ¼ cup)

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

¼ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

3 eggs

1 cup buttermilk

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 ½ cups shredded coconut (freshly grated, sweetened and flaked, or unsweetened)


1. To make tartlet crusts: Split dough into eight equally sized lumps (the number of lumps corresponds to how many tartlets you plan to make). For each tartlet shell, break a lump of dough into smaller, equally sized lumps, and line lumps next to one another in pan. Press lumps down and flatten dough into pan, making sure to keep layer of dough even on the bottom and sides. Run a butter knife over edges of each tartlet pan to cut excess dough and ensure a level edge. Place shaped tartlet shells on a baking sheet and cover loosely. Place baking sheet in freezer until ready to use.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

3. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

4. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the eggs just until smooth. Add dry ingredients, buttermilk, melted butter, and vanilla. Whisk just until well blended (avoid over whisking – you don’t want the filling to be foamy).

5. Remove tartlet shells from freezer. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons coconut evenly over bottom of each tartlet, then pour about 1/3 cup filling, per tartlet, over coconut. Sprinkle remaining coconut over tops of filled tartlets.

6. Bake tartlets in preheated oven 35 to 40 minutes, until pastry is golden brown and custard is puffed and lightly browned.

7. Remove tartlets from baking sheet and place on cooling rack for at least 25 minutes before removing tartlets from tartlet pans.

Storage: Cover tartlets loosely with aluminum foil and refrigerate up to 4 days or freeze, double wrapped in plastic, up to a month. These tartlets are best served warm, so before serving warm tartlets in a 325 degree oven for 10 to 14 minutes, or just until heated through.

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