This past Easter is the last one we'll spend in this house, the house we built 10 years ago. What memories were made in this house - basically our kids grew up here. Annie, our youngest, is almost 8 -- pretty much all grown up-- as she sees it anyway.
Usually on Easter, the Easter bunny will leave a note for the kids - a rhyming limerick with clues indicating where the baskets are hidden. My husband always comes up with clever plays on words which I've saved through the years.
This year, the Easter bunny (you can see his shirt in the background - the traditional Easter rugby pulled out every year just for the occasion) thought of another idea. He commissioned his cartographer to draw a map of our yard with the house on it. The map was made into a puzzle and the pieces were hidden all over the house. The kids were to find the pieces, put the map together, and find out where their baskets were according to where their name was located on the map. I've never seen such teamwork! Not to mention the added bonus of sharpening their map-reading skills!
It was the warmest Easter in recent memory, so he hid the baskets outside - Annie's by the hammock, Ben's by the basketball hoop, and Ellen's by her favorite flowering dogwood tree in the front of the house.
And voila! more memories are made - oh happiness!
This coconut cream tart was unbelievably good. The filling was light and creamy, perfect for a Spring holiday dessert. The filling is made in two steps. First make a vanilla pastry cream and refrigerate overnight. Next add the chilled pastry cream to some heavy cream and sugar, essentially making a whipped cream filling with a bit more substance to it. Add the toasted coconut and fill the pre-baked tart shell.
The original recipe is adapted from the recipe for Coconut Cream Pie with Pecan Crust in the cookbook Luscious Creamy Desserts by Lori Longbotham. I chose to use a plain tart dough only because I had the dough already made in the freezer, but I imagine the pecan crust would be fantastic.
A tart holds less filling than a pie therefore you get a higher crust to filling ratio - the perfect balance in my opinion. Only I had lots of extra filling leftover. I managed to get two tartlet shells out of the leftover dough and filled them, but still had extra filling which I ate, a spoonful here and there, until I'd had my fill and decided I needed to stop eating calorie-dense foods right from the container! To make a 9-inch tart, you might want to cut the filling recipe in half.
Coconut Cream Tart with Pecan Crust
Serves 8 with extra filling left over
Adapted from Luscious Creamy Desserts by Lori Longbotham
For the filling:
1 1/4 cups finely shredded unsweetened coconut
3/4 cup sugar, divided
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 3/4 cups whipping cream, divided
2 large egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Toast the coconut for 5-7 minutes on a baking sheet, stirring once or twice during that time.
Stir together 1/2 cup sugar and the cornstarch in a small bowl. Whisk 1/2 cup of the cream and and egg yolk in a medium bowl. Whisk in the sugar/cornstarch mixture.
Heat 1 1/4 cups cream in a medium heavy saucepan over medium heat until hot. Slowly pour the cream into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the saucepan, reduce the heat to medium low and cook, whisking constantly for 5-7 minutes, or until thickened. Pour the pastry cream through a coarse strainer set over a bowl. Whisk in the vanilla, and place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pastry cream to keep a skin from forming. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate the pastry cream for at least 2 hours, or up to one day.
Once the pastry cream is thoroughly chilled, place the pastry cream in a large bowl with remaining 1 cup of heavy cream and 1/4 sugar. Beat with an electric mixer until the mixture forms soft peaks when the beaters are lifted. Fold in the toasted coconut and spoon the mixture into the pie crust. Sprinkle with a small handful of sweetened shredded coconut. Chill the tart for at least 2 hours or up to 6 hours before serving.
For the crust:
Note: I used a basic pate brisee tart crust for this recipe 'cause I had it in the freezer. Use your favorite tart dough recipe or use the one below. Just be warned that this part of the recipe was not "Marzipan-tested".
1 cup pecans
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg yolk
Pulse the pecans and flour in a food processor just until the pecans are finely ground. With an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar, and the salt until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolk and beat until well combined. Add the pecan mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until combined. Shape the dough into a disk, wrap in wax paper, and refrigerate for at least one hour or up to one day.
Roll out the dough between two sheets of wax paper to a 12-inch circle. remove the top shhet of paper and invert the crust into a 9-inch tart pan. Gently ease the dough into the pan, and remove the remaining wax paper. Trim the excess dough.
Press a piece of aluminum foil snugly into the bottom and up the sides of the pastry shell and fill with uncooked rice or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes, remove the foil and beans, and bake for another 15 minutes until golden brown. Prick the dough with a fork if you see the dough starting to bubble. Let cool on a wire rack.