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My Favorite Coconut Tart

Okay, the second thing I made in my new kitchen was my absolute favorite coconut tart. Don't worry, I'm not going to count down everything I make in the new kitchen...just sort of came out. But, back to the best coconut tart EVER. I found this in one of Rick Bayless's cookbooks years ago and never looked back. That actually doesn't make any sense...I suppose I should say I kept looking back...and back...and back! If you haven't heard me say it before, I'll say it again- Rick Bayless is a genius. He is one of my absolute favorite chefs. I want to hang out with him. Has anyone seen the movie Saving Silverman? First of all, it's hilarious...but the part I'm talking about is when Jack Black says "I wanna party with you!" I have several people I feel this way about...Rick is one of them.

This is actually called a pie, but since it's made in a tart pan, I always call it a tart. I only make this once a year. That's probably because it's so labor-intensive. It's not hard...just takes time is all. It has freshly shredded coconut and homemade, yup HOMEMADE sweetened, condensed COCONUT milk! It's to die for. This will not work with the pre-shredded coconut you buy in the little bags in the store. It won't. Really. I think the love put into making it may be a big part of what makes it so delicious...

Yucatan-Style Fresh Coconut Pie
Pay de Coco, Estile Yucateco
recipe by Rick Bayless from Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen

FOR THE CRUST:
1 c. (4 oz) slivered almonds
3 Tbs. sugar
4 oz firm white bread, torn into pieces
3 1/2 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted

FOR THE PIE:
1 medium-size coconut w/ lots of liquid inside
1 c. heavy cream
2/3 c. sugar
3 large egg yolks
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
thick cream, creme fraiche or thinned sour cream for serving

Turn oven to 325 degrees F. Toast the almonds on a baking sheet in the in the oven, stirring occasionally, until golden, 7-10 minutes. Cool; set 1/2 cup of the almonds aside.
In a food processor, pulverize the remaining almonds with the sugar. Add the bread and pulse until reduced to fine crumbs. Drizzle in the melted butter and pulse to mix thoroughly. Evenly pat the mixture over the bottom and sides of a 3/4" deep, 9" tart pan w/ removable bottom. Refrigerate several minutes to set.
Twist a corkscrew (or use an ice pick or screwdriver) into 2 of the coconut's "eyes", then drain the liquid into a cup. Strain if it contains any shell bits.


Place the coconut on a baking sheet and put into the oven for about 15 minutes to help loosen the flesh from the shell. Sometimes I leave it up to 10 minutes longer...helps to release meat from shell and doesn't hurt it. With a hammer, crack coconut into several pieces, then use a small knife or screwdriver to peel away the dark brown skin from the shell. Use a paring knife or vegetable peeler to peel away the dark brown skin.
In a food processor (or hand-grater) grate the coconut into medium-fine shreds. Measure out 2 1/2 c. for the pie. You can toast the remainder and use it for garnish I usually don't...lazy? sometimes I do..

Raise the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. In a small saucepan, combine the coconut water, cream and sugar. Simmer over medium heat, stirring frequently, until reduced to 1 cup, 10 - 15 minutes.

Pour into a large bowl, then sir in the 2 1/2 cups of coconut, the reserved 1/2 cup of almonds, the egg yolks and the vanilla.

Set the prepared crust onto a baking sheet, scoop in the coconut filling and bake in the middle of the oven until set and lightly browned on top, 30-35 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack. Transfer to serving plate.
It is easiest to cut the pie when cool. Like Rick, I prefer it served warm, though. If you want it warmed up, place a slice in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes to warm up.
This pie/tart is awesome served just like this...but even more awesome with a dollop of creme fraiche or table cream (unsweetened).
This pie can be made several days ahead. Rick says to wrap it in plastic & refrigerate until use.