by / Friday, May 6, 2011

Fresh Coconut Almond Tart

Do you have any of those dishes?  You know the ones.  You make them once a year, every year, like clockwork?  And you're not quite sure why you only make them just once...but you accept it.  And you enjoy it.  Well, I do happen to have a few dishes like that...and this Fresh Coconut Tart just so happens to be one of them.  It is always Springtime when I make, perhaps that is because coconuts happen to be in season during this time in Northwestern Indiana.  Aaaahhhh, no.  It's probably just that the first time I made it was in Spring, and since it became a yearly thing, I wound up making it at about the same time from there on out.  I (and other members of the fam) have just come to associate it with Spring.  You know what the funny thing is?  This is actually a recipe rewind.  This will be the first time I have ever shared a recipe two times here at girlichef.  But I thought that would be okay because I'm way more experienced at blogging now than I was when I shared it a little over two years ago.  We had just moved into our new home, I had my old camera, I knew less about how to take a good photo...shall I continue?  The one thing I will say, is that back then, I did all sorts of step-by-step posts...and that was one of them.   So, if you'd like to see how to open the coconut and get the meat out, you could go back and check out the first post.  Although, I also demonstrate the method when I made fresh coconut milk...and those shots are a little more current (I recommend this post for method of getting the coconut water out of the coconut and the meat from the shell)

The best thing about making something for so many years like clockwork is that you develop methods for making your life a little easier.  Shortcuts, favorite ingredients and methods that differ from where you first started but still give you the same results.  When picking a coconut to make this tart, I look for the one with the most coconut water inside.  People may think I'm nuts, picking up each individual coconut and giving it a shake, but if they tried this tart, they'd nod their heads in understanding.  The more the better so that you can make a really flavorful, concentrated homemade sweetened condensed coconut milk.  Which, I might add, is totally worth making for other purposes, as well.  So good.  Another thing I've decided over the years is that my favorite bread to use for the crust is Pan de Acambaro, which is a Mexican Sweet Bread from Guanajuato that tastes a lot lot Pan de Muerto...which you could also use (but if you sure to use an unglazed loaf without sesame seeds or any fillings).  Challah would be a good option, as well.  Although, that said, I have also made this with a simple French or Italian loaf...basically you want a plain, sturdy loaf that holds up well.  And perhaps last, but not least, I toast my almonds and coconut on the stove top, in a skillet instead of doing it in the oven.  I don't know if I'm actually saving myself time here, but it seems like it to me.  Whichever method you decide to use will give you great results. 
Fresh Coconut Almond Tart
makes one 9" tart, serving 8-10

for the crust:
2 oz. slivered almonds, toasted
3 Tbs. sugar
4 oz. Pan de Acambaro (or another firm, white bread)
1¾ oz. butter, melted

for the tart:
1 coconut with a LOT of liquid inside
2 oz. slivered almonds, toasted
1 c. heavy cream
⅔ c. sugar
3 large egg yolks
1 tsp. Mexican vanilla

for the crust:
Combine toasted almonds and sugar in a food processor and process until fairly fine.  Add bread, ripped into hunks and pulse until you have fine crumbs.  Slowly drizzle in the butter and pulse until everything comes together.  Place a 9" tart pan with a removable bottom onto a foil-lined baking sheet and dump the mixture into it.  Press the mixture evenly and firmly over the bottom and up the sides of the pan.  Transfer to the refrigerator.  I like to leave this in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
for the tart:
Let's begin with the trickiest part, which is getting all of the good stuff out of that hard coconut shell.  Preheat the oven to 325° F.  Set a strainer over a bowl.  Pierce the eyes of the coconut...I like twisting a corkscrew through each...and let all of the liquid drain into the bowl, through the strainer.  Once you've gotten all the liquid out of the coconut, place it on a baking sheet and put it into the preheated oven for ~15 minutes.  This helps to loosen the meat from the shell.  Remove from oven and once cool enough to handle (a few minutes), break the coconut in half.  I either hand it off to Mexi to whack once with a machete, or else I hammer a flat-head screw driver into the middle in a few spot until it splits.  Pry the flesh from the shell, then use a vegetable peeler of a paring knife to remove the brown layer from the meat.  Feed through coconut meat through the shredding attachment of the food processor.  Measure out 2½ cups for the tart, and save the rest to use as garnish.

Turn the oven up to 350° F.  Combine coconut water, cream, and sugar in a medium saucepan (seriously, go larger rather than smaller to prevent boil-overs).  Simmer over medium heat, stirring from time to time, until reduced to 1 cup, ~10-15 minutes.  You know you're gonna want to dip a finger in...I can't resist...sweetened condensed coconut milk* is the best thing since...well...sweetened condensed regular milk. Anyhoo...pour that into a large bowl and stir in the reserved coconut, toasted almonds, vanilla and egg yolks.  Remove the crust from the fridge and pour the filling in.  Bake until set and golden on top, ~35-40 minutes.  Set on a wire rack to cool, then pop out of the tart pan.

Toast the remaining coconut, if you like and use it as garnish along with some Mexican Crema (which helps to cut the sweet with a bit of creamy-sour) or créme fraîche.

This tart refrigerates well...simply wrap some plastic wrap around it.  I prefer it warm, a microwave for just a few seconds (so it doesn't get soggy) or a preheated oven for ~5 minutes does wonders to take off the chill.
*yup, Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk is what you have at this can make it and use it in place of Sweetened Condensed Milk in other recipes!

I am sharing this post with:
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Heather is a Michiana-based food, drink, and travel writer with a fondness for garlic, freshly baked bread, stinky cheese, dark beer, and Mexican food—who believes that immersing herself in different cultures one bite at a time is the best path to enlightenment.


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