A tart is a baked dish consisting of a pastry base and a sweet or savory filling. Tarts are usually not covered with another layer of pastry. The crust is most often made with "short dough" or a pastry made with fat like shortening. Custard is the most common filling, and it is often topped with fruit. Tartlet refers to a miniature tart and just about any full-sized tart can be prepared in small individual portions.
Tart pans are fluted around the edge for both beauty and stability but there is no rule and you may see straight-sided tarts as well.
The bottom of a tart pan is removable to help you get it out of the pan without breaking that beautiful crust. "Tart" is sometimes used for quiche or pie and all of these words can refer to a pastry with only a crust on the bottom. Tart crusts are either baked "blind" or empty and filled afterwards or they are baked with a filling.
While tart pans are mostly round, we love the newer square and rectangular pans. Our new recipe uses a long rectangular pan for beautiful presentation.
Coconut Cream Tart
For the Crust:
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons margarine, cut up
2 tablespoons shortening*
3-4 tablespoons ice water
*note: if you prefer to use all margarine, combine quantities
For the Pastry Cream
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 extra large egg yolk
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 tablespoon margarine
1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes
1/3 cup topping, thawed
1 cup topping, thawed
3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
½ cup sweetened coconut flakes, toasted
1 egg white, beaten
Combine flour and salt in a large bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut in margarine and/or shortening until mixture looks like coarse crumbs. You can also prepare this in a food processor. Pulse the ingredients in short bursts. Do not knead by hand as this will warm the fat and develop the gluten. Too much gluten will cause the pastry to puff or shrink.
Sprinkle in water, 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing lightly or pulsing after each addition. Only add enough water to hold dough together.
Gather pastry together. It will be somewhat crumbly, but will hold together. Flatten slightly and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate 30 minutes or overnight. If chilled for long, allow the dough to return to room temperature before rolling.
On a silpat, roll dough out to 15" x 6" rectangle, rolling from the center outward. The surface of the pastry should appear marbled with fat.
Transfer dough to your pie plate or tart pan. Gently ease pastry into pan without stretching. Trim edge with a sharp knife and prick dough with a fork.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the tart pan on a cookie sheet so it will be easy to move in and out of the oven. Line the tart with aluminum foil and add pie weights or dried beans to keep the sides of the tart from buckling. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and weights. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the crust with a beaten egg white. Return to the oven and continue to bake for another 8 minutes until the tart is golden brown. Let cool completely before filling.
To make filling:
Heat the coconut milk, sugar, and vanilla in a medium saucepan over medium heat. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and corn starch. Add 1/2 cup of the hot cream slowly to the yolks, whisking as you add. Then pour the yolk mixture into the pot of hot cream and whisk. Continue to whisk with heat on medium-high for 3 more minutes. The mixture will turn thick and bubble. You need to continue to whisk for the full 3 minutes or the pastry cream will separate once it is cool. After the 3 minutes, whisk in the margarine. Add the coconut flakes. Pour into a shallow dish to cool.
Cover with plastic wrap pressed right on the pastry cream. This will prevent a skin from forming on the surface. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
Whip the 1/2 cup topping to medium peaks. Stir in 1/3 to the pastry cream to lighten. Fold in the remaining coconut cream until the mixture is nice and light. When tart shell is cool, fill it with pastry cream.
Beat topping and confectioners’ sugar until it reaches medium peaks. Pipe or spoon topping onto coconut cream filling and sprinkle with toasted coconut.