Coconut Dream Tart

By Jennifer Segal

Metrocurean contributor, Once Upon a Chef

This recipe came about when I decided to recreate one of my husband’s favorite desserts: the signature Coconut Cream Pie from The Capital Grille (which if you haven’t tried, you are missing out on one of life’s greatest gastronomic pleasures).

The folks over at Capital Grille were nice enough to share a few secrets with me so I was able to come up with something very close to theirs: a coconut-scented cookie crust filled with a creamy coconut custard, all covered in a pillow of whipped cream and heaps of toasted coconut. It’s heaven!

Coconut Dream Tart
Inspired by the Coconut Cream Pie at The Capital Grille (crust adapted from Gourmet)

makes one 10-inch pie, serves 8-10

for crust

7½  oz shortbread cookies such as Walker's Pure Butter Shortbread, finely ground (if you don't have a baking scale, it's 11 Walker's rectangular'll need 2 boxes)

1¼ cups loosely packed sweetened flaked coconut

½ stick (¼ cup) unsalted butter, melted

for custard

2 large eggs

2 large egg yolks

¾ cup granulated sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, packed

2 tablespoons corn starch, packed

pinch salt

1½ tablespoons Malibu Rum*

5 tablespoons cream of coconut (stir well before using)

1 cup coconut milk (stir well before using)

1 cup whole milk

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

for whipped cream and topping

1 cup heavy whipping cream

3 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon Malibu Rum*

¾ cup unsweetened coconut flakes**, toasted in a skillet until golden and cooled

*Malibu Rum is a rum made with coconut extract.

**Look for unsweetened coconut flakes at Whole Foods or MOMs Organic Market.

to make the crust:

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat to 350 degrees.

Pulse cookie crumbs, coconut, and melted butter in a food processor until coconut is finely ground. Using a ½ cup dry measuring cup, press crumbs firmly and evenly into bottom and up sides of 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Bake until golden, about 15-18 minutes, then cool completely in pan on a rack (you can speed this up in the fridge or freezer). If it shrinks or cracks a bit, simply press it back together and up the sides while it's still hot.

to make the filling:

Whisk the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.

Combine Malibu rum, cream of coconut, coconut milk and whole milk in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn off heat. Whisking constantly, slowly ladle about a cup of hot milk mixture into egg mixture; whisk well to combine. Whisking constantly, gradually add remaining milk mixture to egg mixture in 3 or 4 additions; whisk well to combine. Return mixture to sauce pan. Over medium-high heat, cook, whisking constantly, until mixture reaches a boil and thickens, about 2 minutes. Filling must boil for at least 30 seconds in order to fully thicken. Off heat, whisk in butter until fully incorporated.

Pour hot filling into cooled pie shell and smooth surface with spatula; press plastic wrap directly against surface of filling and refrigerate until firm, at least 3 hours and up to 10 hours.

for the whipped cream:

Up to 3 hours before serving, beat cream, sugar and Malibu Rum with electric mixer until soft peaks form, about 1½ - 2 minutes. Top tart with whipped cream and sprinkle with cooled toasted coconut.

to serve:

Carefully remove the rim from the pan by gently pressing upwards on the bottom while holding the rim in place. Cut into wedges, wiping your knife clean between slices, and serve cold.

Tart (without whipped cream topping) can be chilled up to 10 hours (the crust will begin to soften if chilled too much longer). Tart can be topped with whipped cream 3 hours ahead and chilled.

Jennifer Segal is the founder and publisher of Once Upon a Chef,
a cooking blog featuring easy and elegant recipes. Before launching
her blog, Jennifer earned her culinary stripes working front and back
of the house at some of DC's top fine dining restaurants, including L'Auberge Chez Francois, Sam & Harry's and The Caucus Room.

She has also done private catering and restaurant public relations.
Jennifer is a graduate of the professional Culinary Arts Program at
L'Academie de Cuisine.