Coconut Chocolate Tart


This different coconut tart recipe has an interesting texture from a dense layer of chocolate truffle on the bottom, light coconut cream in the middle and crunchy toasted coconut on top. It’s a creation that I had originally come up with for a luncheon I was attending. I fine tuned it for the week’s holiday meal with my family, and it’s a perfect addition to your Easter Dinner table.

Thanks to my Aunt Josephine, who was the inspiration for my starting this blog, I have a wonderfully diverse family. Her second husband Ed, had three children of his own, and along with them came their Jewish heritage and traditions. None of us are particularly religious, but we certainly have made the most of the holidays. Really it’s any excuse to gather around long tables, and indulge in delicious foods.

We celebrated this year at the home of my Cousin Patty and her intended Jay. Last year we celebrated “East-over” since the two holidays were right on top of each other. This year it was “Pre-Passover” since we gathered on Sunday, the day before the official start of passover. So you can see that we don’t hold too closely to the the rules. However, it should be shared that we did all read through the Seder stories, dipped parsley into salted water, ate our share of charoset and hid the afikomen. All the “kids” are well into legal adulthood, but the chase to find the hidden matzoh caused quite the ruckus.  The whole day was filled with love and laugher and ease and family, for which I feel blessed.

Both sides of my family are chock full of foodies, both professionally and non, which makes these get togethers tremendous fun and ridiculously delicious. For instance, my “soon to be official” Cousin Scott, is presently working on a new restaurant in Hudson, NY called Fish & Game, which is opening in a few weeks. The restaurant is focused on locally sourced ingredients, and the menu incorporates a nose-to-tail approach to the animals procured. Listening to him talk about the build out of the kitchen and the research involved in finding local, organic and biodynamic wines, is what keeps us perched at the dinner table. I can tell you it all sounds (and looks) incredible. {I promise you that once they are open I’ll be taken a drive up there to dine- then I’ll be back to tell you about it.}

As an ex-baker it’s not surprising that I choose to make dessert for my contribution, but I rarely opt for a layer cake. I mean, after cracking about a gazillion eggs in my life it’s far more appealing to turn flour, butter and sugar into other sweet treats- hence this tart.

When I started to think about this dessert my criteria was to have something somewhat decadent, but not too over the top- because believe it or not, summer IS coming and the time has come to shed one’s, shall we say… winter coat(ing). Nonetheless, I wanted something tasty, not leavened, pretty and different.

The tart gets most of it’s sweetness from the crust and the chocolate. The filling and coconut topping are much lower in sugar which is a very interesting taste sensation when you eat it. So many things happen in your mouth. Gritty graham cracker crust, dense sweet chocolate, delicate soft coconut cream with a slight crunch of aromatic coconut at the end.

To be honest it’s a little time consuming to make since it’s made in stages- but there is no great pastry skill involved here- so plan ahead and give it a whirl.

coconut tart, chocolate coconut tart, light coconut tart, easter dessert

Chocolate Coconut Tart

Each layer of this tart is prepared in stages. The total time is about 2 hours. If you prefer you can make the crust and chocolate layer ahead of time and finish the cream filling later.

makes one 9″ tart that serves 8-10, or 4 4″ tartlets

12 sheets graham crackers

.75cup of sugar

6 T melted butter

pinch of salt

8oz semisweet chocolate, chopped

.75c heavy cream

2c lite coconut milk, unsweetened (not cream)about a can and a half

3T sugar

1.5 T unflavored gelatin

6 T cool water

1c shredded, unsweetened coconut

Preheat oven to 350˚ 

In a food processor, pulse the crackers to a rough crumb, add the sugar, butter and salt and process to a damp sandy mixture.

Spoon the mixture into your preferred tart pans and press firmly and evenly. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until browned. Remove and set aside.

While the shell is baking prepare the chocolate ganache. Place the chopped chocolate into a medium sized bowl. Warm the cream until it’s hot but not boiling- microwave is fine- about 45 seconds.

Combine the cream with the chocolate and stir smooth. This is thinner than a traditional ganache so that it won’t be too stiff in the chilled tart.

When the shell is cooled, pour the chocolate into the bottom and spread evenly. Important* place the chocolate laced shell into the freezer and chill well. About 15 minutes, the colder the better.

To prepare the coconut filling, reserve .5 cup of coconut milk in a heatproof bowl. In a separate small bowl combine the water and the gelatin and combine well. Let the gel sit for 3 minutes to bloom. Meanwhile warm the remaining coconut milk and stir in the sugar until dissolved. 

Scoop the gelatin into the reserved coconut milk and warm until the gelatin is melted but not boiling. Then stir into the warm milk/sugar mixture.

Carefully pour the milky mixture into the tart shell. It will be very soupy and may soak the crust. Don’t worry about that, it will be fine, I promise.

Carefully place into the fridge until the filling is set, about an hour, maybe more, depending on how cool your fridge is.

To finish, toast the coconut in a dry skillet, then spoon over the tart.

Keep the tart cold until ready to serve.

Chocolate Mousse {No Cream}

Growing up my Mother owned a restaurant out on the North Fork called, The Cinnamon Tree. It was a cozy restaurant in the middle of the victorian fishing town. Before the restaurant business my parents had been in the antique business and had a great collection of remarkable things. The restaurant was decorated with antique lights, artwork, giant peer mirrors and stained glass. It provided more of a homey atmosphere, and two Chesterfield leather sofas flanked a large fireplace that, in the colder months, folks would gather around and drink away the darkness.

Most of the other restaurants in the area around served baked clams and shrimp cocktail. On her menu were more elegant things like, Chicken Cordon Bleu, Stuffed Flounder, and a dessert similar to this called: Chocolate Yummy Rummy.

It was a gorgeously decadent dessert that remained on the menu for the entire 24 years that the restaurant was open. It was light and delicate in consistency, and a little went a long way. I used to watch the cooks in the kitchen make enormous bowls of it and then ladle small dollops into individual parfait glasses. It is mesmerizing to watch chocolate fold into creaminess. Somewhere along the line my Mom gave me a copy of the recipe, but I have no idea where it might be, and then, I might not give away the family secret.

What I really liked best about the Chocolate Yummy Rummy is that it did not rely on whipped cream for its loft and moussiness. As a result it’s more chocolately and velvety.

For my holiday meal last night I looked for a comparable recipe and found one that I modified a bit. In retrospect I would add more rum for a slightly more boozy edge, but no complaints here- and if you’re serving a younger crowd you could leave it out entirely.

I served mine with a soft billowy sweetened whipped cream to offset the chocolate- but straight without embellishment is more than fine. This is the time to invest in the best quality chocolate you can get your hands on. If you want someone to fall in love with you, I would put this on the menu.

Chocolate Mousse
This is extremely decadent so a small bit goes a long way. This batch makes enough for 8-10 servings
The mousse needs time to set, so it’s best prepared the day before or morning you plan to serve it.
If you prefer not to add alcohol simply add 2T of water to replace it.
6oz best quality dark chocolate
8T unsalted butter, in pieces
2T espresso or strong coffee
4 large eggs, room temp, separated
.66c sugar
3T rum, or other brandy/alcohol of your choosing
.5 t vanilla
pinch of salt
Ready multiple glasses or bowls for filling, or a 3qt bowl.
Over simmering water in a heatproof bowl, melt the chocolate, coffee and butter, then set aside. Don’t overheat.
In a second large bowl, combine the yolks, sugar and rum and place over the water. With a whisk beat the yolks while warming them until the consistency is thick, and they are lemony in color. Take care not to overheat and scramble the yolks. 
Remove from the heat until the yolks cool slightly. Then combine the chocolate and yolk mixture and stir to combine. Set aside. The yolks should be quite warm, but not hot.
In a very clean stand mixer, combine the egg whites and pinch of salt and beat on high until they get fluffy. Then sprinkle in 1T of sugar over egg whites and continue to beat until they are stiff but not grainy. They should have a slight gloss. When you remove the whip the peak will fold, but not melt back in.
With a spatula take a hefty spoonful of the whites and gently stir into the chocolate mixture to lighten. Then add the rest of the whites and gently fold in to the chocolate mixture. Take care not to beat down the airiness. 
Ladle or pour the mixture into your glasses or bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hrs at least.
The mousse can be made up to 2 days ahead and kept in the fridge.
Remove from the fridge right before serving.

Ganache Filled Espresso Cookies

It turns out this year that my immediate family will be split apart for Christmas. It’s a familiar scenario in the modern world of blended families and adult children. This is not a bad thing for us- we were all together for Thanksgiving, so no one feels deprived- and we have love all around the world to share. It really is a blessing in a lot of ways. But we will still celebrate together before we board planes and put miles and continents between us.

Tomorrow we will have little Christmas here at my place. My children will draw together from the corners of the city, and my Mother will drive in from the country. I can’t wait. There is a relaxed energy when doing it this way, sort of like “Hooky Christmas”. Extra celebrations are also always welcome.

I’ll start working on our dinner menu today. Not a Turkey or Roast in sight, but a request for salmon and more relaxed eating. I love it. I’m still working on the desserts. Yes there will be a couple (few), that is how we roll in my house. The first of which will be these cookies.

They are beautiful cookie that consists of a delicate layer of rich chocolate ganache that nestles between the two layers of crispy butter thins. A tablespoon of ground espresso beans added to the dough provides a depth of flavor that compliments the chocolate, you don’t get much coffee flavor, rather a bass note of richness.

Ganache Filled Espresso Cookies
makes approx 30 cookies
The cookie rounds can be baked in advance and stored in the freezer until ready to fill and sugar dust.
.75c sweet butter, softened
1c sugar
2 eggs
.5t vanilla
2.5c ap flour
1t baking powder
.5t salt
1T ground espresso beans
.5c heavy cream
3.5oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1T sweet butter
pinch of salt
1c powdered confectioners sugar for decoration
In a stand mixer cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. About 4 mins on medium speed.
Carefully add the eggs and vanilla and beat smooth.
In a large bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, espresso beans and salt.
Transfer the wet ingredients into the dry. Gently and thoroughly mix the dough until fully incorporated.
Divide the dough into two pieces. Flatten them into .5″ thick disks, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 30 mins.
Preheat oven to 350˚ and prepare baking sheets with parchment or grease.
On a flour dusted work surface, roll out the dough to an even .25″ thickness. Cut rounds using a 2″ biscuit cutter. Place the cookies on the sheet with even spaces between.
Bake until the edges just turn golden, approx 12-15 mins. Allow to fully cool before filling.
To make the ganache: place the chocolate into a small bowl. Warm the cream over medium heat just to the boiling. Immediately pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir smooth. Add a pinch of salt and the butter.
Allow the ganache to cool until a thick icing consistency.
Place the ganache into a pastry bag, or plastic bag with hole cut in the corner. Squeeze a dollop of ganache into the center of each cookie, topping with another and pressing down to distribute the ganache.
Place powdered sugar into a fine sieve and evenly dust the tops of the cookies.
If not to be eaten right away, store in the fridge.