The Superior Tart
Our contributing blogger Zina (@kissmyelite) takes us through a coconut tart recipe in true Bahamian fashion. Fun fact: In The Bahamas if ya Grammy gives you a recipe it usually means everything is done the traditional way and there are improvised measurements. She also takes a stab at @imnickintl who is as Anti-Coconut Tart as you can get!
Check it out!
Hi there! It’s Zina, today’s guest blogger, food contributor, Bahamian recipe tryer and coconut tart enthusiast. Before we get to the recipe and instructions, let’s get some housekeeping out the way:
1. This is part recipe, part when ya Grammy give you a recipe there is no measurements, part the inner workings of my brain as I’m in my lab (the kitchen).
2. I love a recipe with a lot of pictures (so though there isn’t a measurement for everything the pictures will help).
3. Bahamian recipes are not things that you do quickly, you take time and do it with love, so you better grate the coconut on the finest side, you can’t rush this.
4. When I was approached to be a guest blogger for FCC, I immediately knew it would be coconut tart since Nick is a known coconut tart hater, I hope this recipe will convert all of you heathens that may be like him.
As a coconut tart enthusiast, there are a few reasons people don’t like coconut tart. They don’t like coconut at all or are allergic, the coconut is grated too thick (it needs to almost be like snow, friends). Sometimes the coconut/sugar isn’t caramelized enough (think coconut caramel when making your filling, not white coconut with white sugar), and/or the lattice version is dry (cake tart >>>>>>>> pie tart, there’s no debate here.).
I’d like to believe that my recipe combats all of those things, and if you’re still a coconut tart hater after this, then you just don’t like good things because this is the superior tart. And if I just mash’ ya Grammy corn, I sorry.
Zina's Coconut Tart
1-2 dry coconuts (grated on the smallest side of a box grater, NOT any other side and DEFINITELY NOT a food processor)
1 ½ cups to 2 ½ cups of sugar
Nutmeg to taste (I go for about 1 tsp)
Splash of vanilla
Water as needed
1 Kerrygold butter (room temperature)
3 sticks margarine (room temperature)
1 ½ cups sugar
2 eggs (room temperature)
4 cups flour
1 ½ tbsp baking powder
2 tbsp vanilla
Cream & water to soften (I started with the mini can of cream & 2 mini cans full of water mixed together)
1. Crack & grate all coconuts. Be sure to crack them separately, as coconuts that are spoiled can do your belly right in. If the flesh seems even the slightest bit moist and brown, do not use it. Once I’ve cracked them, I also rinse them thoroughly before grating. If miraculously all of your coconuts are good, I just save what I don’t need in the freezer for a coconut Johnny cake later (coconut Johnny cake is also elite) or even for another tart if it’s that much. You can do this in advance and freeze it until you’re ready to make your tart.
2. Brown your sugar. I start with about 1 ½ cups of white sugar in a light colored pot so you can see the level of color to ensure your sugar doesn’t burn. If you’re brave you can just leave it on a medium-low heat until it’s your desired color. If you’re less brave, stir it as it cooks to your desired color. I’ve done both methods, just depends on the day I’m baking and how I feel. You do have to stay in the kitchen to ensure your sugar doesn’t burn though! This is essential! I love it on the darker side, if you want to stop when it’s less brown that’s fine too, but there MUST be a level of brownness.
3. Add your coconut. Once you have achieved your desired caramel brown color with the sugar, add your coconut. This will stop the sugar from browning any further. Once you’ve stirred it all together, if it’s too thick, you can start adding water in small increments. I ended up adding about a cup of water in ½ cup increments. But you don’t want your filling too loose so it doesn’t sink in the batter when baking. Again, think caramel. If it’s too wet, cook it longer so some of the water can evaporate.
4. Flavor your coconut. At this point, I add freshly grated nutmeg. I noted earlier that this is to taste.I’m a nutmeg girl so I added about a teaspoon and then some. Freshly grated nutmeg (on the microplane if you’re fancy) is much better than pre-ground nutmeg. But add to your heart’s content. I add and taste until it’s where I want it. At this point, I also taste to see if it’s as sweet as I want, I ended up adding about another ¾ cups of sugar. Tasting as you go while cooking the coconut is essential. My last addition is a splash of vanilla once I turn off the heat. My Mmmy doesn’t do it like that, but that’s how I do it.
5. Bring to a complete cool. At this point, if you want a break, once you bring it to room temperature, you can refrigerate or freeze the filling until you’re ready to make your tart (just bring it back to room temp before you get started). If you’re doing it all in one day, it’s essential you let it cool it to room temp. Too cool the filling down quickly, I spread it out on a plate or pan to give more surface area.
1. You’re going to do this like a cake batter and start by beating the butter, margarine and sugar until it’s light and fluffy. You can use a stand mixer (like me), a hand mixer (like my mommy) or do it completely by hand (like my Grammy).
2. Add eggs one at a time. Make sure everything is well incorporated.
3. Add vanilla. If you’re a big time vanilla person like me you might add more than the recipe calls for. Let your Crooked Island Grammy guide you. If she’s from Nassau, yikes, I don’t know what to tell you.
4. Whisk flour & baking powder in a separate bowl.
5. Mix a mini can of cream(about 6oz) & the empty can filled twice with water (but the amount actually used is to be determined). This time I used about 1 ⅔ to 2 cups. If you have any left over you can use it in something else or you can mix 1 part cream to 2 parts water to make 2 cups of liquid. Your choice.
6. Add vanilla to the butter & sugar mixture and mix well.
7. Add flour mixture and cream mixture in batches, alternating. I try not to add too much liquid, as you want the batter to be a little stiff to avoid the coconut sinking.
8. Be sure to beat everything by hand at the end to ensure everything is well incorporated. However, like a cake batter, don’t over-mix it!
NOTE: I mixed the mini can (6oz) of cream along with 2 full mini cans of water so the cream taste wouldn’t be overpowering. I mixed in about ⅓ cup at a time and ended up using about 1 ⅔ cups to about 2 cups. I honestly don’t measure and when my Mommy
sent me the instructions neither did she. You just gotta go for it and go with the feeling. Each time, how much liquid you use will vary, just be sure to feel for your batter texture.
This video will give you an idea of where your batter should be at.
1. Preheat the oven to 350°.
2. Butter a 9x13 baking pan (you can also add parchment paper [what I use] or wax paper [my Grammy’s choice] and butter that as well). Metal pans work best as glass carries over heat which can dry out your tart.
3. Spread half of your batter on the bottom of the baking pan.
4. Spread half of your cooled coconut filling over the batter. Make sure to go all the way to the edge as the best part is the candied coconut on an edge slice (clearly my favorite).
5. Spread the other half of your batter on top of the coconut filling.
6. Bake at 350° for about 1 hour, checking for brownness.
7. If you really want to get in your Island Grammy Bag, top it with the butter and margarine wrappers once it’s out of the oven to ensure a soft top.
8. Let cool for about 30 minutes so it slices nicely, but nothing beats a warm slice of tart!
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