If you ask me to choose between an egg tart or a coconut tart, I would most probably choose the later. Maybe it is the texture but I do find coconut tartlets to have more bite and chew to it. And when it is cooked correctly, the smell of the baked coconut plus the sweetened taste of the filling will keep me satiate for a very long time. Simply put, eating a coconut tart would make me a very happy woman.
It is funny how I used to hate coconut tarts when I was young. It was always grainy and dry. I blame it on the sub-standard tarts that I had tasted. It wasn't until many moons after when RT bakery (a very popular bakery in my area) opened nearby that I tasted what I call the real deal. The tart was filled to the brim with aromatic coconut filling baked to perfection. It is moist inside and crispy on the crust. That was also the day that I say adios to hardened, stingily filled tasteless tarts. The only downside is that it doesn't come cheap. If you have a family with a healthy appetite that can eat a cow, you would definitely feel the pinch, no matter how little it is. The good news is, you can make this yourself. It is an easy recipe. Well, you might get uneven looking shells or even burnt coconut on some parts but trust me, you can do it. If you still hesitate, just buy ready-made shells.
For the pastry, I used the "cutting-in" method whereby the butter is cut into tiny pieces (crumbs) to be coated in flour. This gives a nice crunchy flaky tart shell. Just remember to keep everything cold. The most crucial point is the coconut used. Use fresh grated coconut. Desiccated coconut will give you a dry grainy texture when you bite into it. If you are staying overseas and you really have to use it, make sure you soak your desiccated coconut in coconut milk before you proceed.
I have been trying to emulate the taste that I experienced. I wouldn't say I managed to nail it but it is close enough (I could never emulate the tart because theirs is a pre-made mass produced tart shell). And I have to credit a few sites that gives me this inspiration - Aunty Yochanna, Wantamein, and Happy Home Baking.
I made a few mistakes on my first try. My crust was a bit thin making the ratio of filling to crust unbalanced. I also added more shredded coconut than the recipe called (I just add in all the remaining coconut) for which I shouldn't have. The result was good, but not fantastic. Not satisfied, I tried another batch. This time, I followed exactly the recipe. There were still a bit of liquid left in the mixture which I poured into the tarts as well. Well, what do you know? Just the right consistency that I want. And I have to add that these second-round tarts are to die for! No exaggeration here.
Coconut Tartlets 椰挞Adapted from Happy Home Baking
Makes 6-7 tarts (6.5 cm diameter)
6-7 unbaked coconut tartlet shells (recipe here)
125 g fresh grated coconut
40 g castor sugar
40 g butter, melted
2 tbsp condensed milk
2 tbsp water
1 large egg
1. Mix all ingredients in filling together.
2. Fill tart shells fully until it forms a little hump. Pour remaining liquid even into each tart.
3. Preheat oven to 170C. Bake tarts for 30-35 minutes until tart turns golden.
4. Remove, un-mould and let cool on wire rack.