Archive for the 'Pie + Tart' Category

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Coconut Cream Pie

Coconut Cream Pie

I’m as predictable as they come when it comes to desserts. Presented with a menu of sweets at the end of a meal, I always end up choosing the one featuring salted caramel or seasonal fruits. Recently though, I’ve branched out beyond the usual and opened my heart to coconut. I don’t know whether I’ve been influenced by my Vietnamese roots or the transformative Roasted Coconut Cream Torte I sampled at Extraordinary Desserts a few months ago, but these days, I can’t resist anything cool, creamy, and heavy on the coconut.

Haunted by a most heavenly coconut cream tart that I recently indulged in at San Francisco’s Tartine Bakery, I felt compelled and inspired to bake my own coconut cream pie. As good fortune would have it, this month’s Cooking Light magazine featured a lightened up recipe that promised to be nothing less than completely satisfying. Low-cal desserts aren’t usually my thing, but this recipe sounded perfectly well-rounded.

The finished product hit all the notes that I demand in a great coconut dessert—it was fragrant, smooth, distinctly coconut-y, and transported me somewhere tropical and warm. Next time around, I’m painting the bottom of the crust with a thin coating of chocolate to truly capture the Tartine experience at home.

For crust

  • 1/2 package refrigerated pie dough (such as Trader Joe’s)
  • Cooking spray

For coconut filling

  • 2 cups 1% low-fat milk
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 1 1/2 cups flaked sweetened coconut
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons butter

For meringue topping

  • 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup flaked sweetened coconut, toasted

Prepare crust

Coconut Cream Pie

Preheat oven to 425°. Fit dough into a 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray. Fold edges under; flute by using your index finger to push the dough between the thumb and index finger of your other hand to form a “U” shape. Continue the same motion all around the pie plate.

Line dough with foil; arrange pie weights or dried beans on foil. Bake at 425° for 10 minutes; remove weights and foil, and bake an additional 10 minutes or until golden. Cool completely on a wire rack. While the oven is on, toast 1/4 cup flaked sweetened coconut. Set aside to cool.

Make coconut filling

Coconut Cream Pie

Combine milk and half-and-half in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 1/2 cups coconut. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean; stir seeds and pod into milk mixture. Bring milk mixture to a simmer; immediately remove from heat. Cover and let stand 15 minutes.

Continue reading ‘Coconut Cream Pie’

Peach Crostata

As someone who has never baked a classic, flaky crusted pie, the idea of preparing a crostata was appealing because its perfection lays in its imperfection. Whereas dimply or cracked crusts are seen as major cosmetic flaws on a pie, when it comes to crostatas, they’re essential for achieving a perfectly rustic product. To further add to their accessibility, Crostatas are “free-form,” and thus don’t require any special baking dishes or fancy crimping methods. All one needs is a simple baking sheet and and a trusty rolling pin.

This recipe comes from Frank Stitt’s Southern Table, a gorgeous cookbook filled with stories and recipes from Highlands Bar & Grill—my all-time favorite restaurant in Birmingham, Alabama. The recipe yields enough dough for two crusts, even though the directions only calls for one. According to Mr. Stitt, “You can prepare the dough well in advance and even freeze it with no loss of quality.” I’m looking forward to calling upon my extra dough later this summer when the abundance of ripened fruit just begs to be made into another crostata.

For the dough

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1⁄4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 1⁄4 sticks unsalted butter, cut into 1⁄2-inch cubes and chilled
  • 1⁄4 cup ice water

For the filling

  • 1⁄4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1⁄4 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
  • 2 pounds ripe peaches, pitted, peeled, and sliced into 3⁄4-inch-thick wedges
  • 1 large egg yolk, beaten with 1 teaspoon heavy cream for egg wash
  • 1 tablespoon coarse or granulated sugar for topping

Prepare the dough

Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times to blend. Add the butter and pulse until it is the size of small peas, about 15 times. With the processor running, add the ice water and process for about 10 seconds; stop the processor before the dough comes together. Turn the dough out onto a sheet of waxed paper, divide the dough in half, and shape it into two disks. Wrap them in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (The dough can be refrigerated for 2 days or frozen for up to 2 weeks; if it has been frozen, defrost the dough for 30 minutes at room temperature.)

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Roll one disk of dough into an 11-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Transfer to a baking sheet. (Reserve the second disk of dough for another use.)

Prepare filling

Combine the flour and sugar in a small bowl. Blend in the butter with two knives until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

Place the peaches in the center of the dough circle on the baking sheet and top with the butter-sugar mixture. Begin draping the edges up and over, forming about 3 pleats. Crimp the pleats and press down to seal. Brush the pastry with the egg wash and sprinkle with the sugar.

Bake the tart for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool on a rack and serve slices with vanilla ice cream or crème anglaise.

Makes 6 servings.

Mini Apple Pies


  • 1 package of Trader Joe’s Whole Wheat pizza dough
  • 4 small/medium apples (any variety works)
  • Cinnamon
  • Sugar
  • Maple Syrup
  • Butter

Preheat oven to 425 F. Lightly grease baking sheet with butter. Make sure the dough has been sitting at room temperature for at least 20 minutes. Begin by chopping up the apples into cubes. The skins can be removed if desired.

Melt half a tablespoon of butter into a medium sized saucepan and add the apples. Make sure all of the apples are coated with a bit of butter and close the lid and simmer on medium to high heat for 15 minutes. Do stir the apples occasionally. When the apples begin to break down, add in a tablespoon of maple syrup and a sprinkling of cinnamon (about 1/4 tablespoon). Cook for an additional 10 minutes or until the apples are well done. The consistency should resemble that of apple pie filling. Drain the excess juice from the apples into a separate container and set the apples aside. Prepare a cinnamon and sugar mixture by mixing together 1/8 C of sugar with 1/2 tablespoon of cinnamon. Set aside.

Divide the pizza dough into 6 even chunks. Roll out the dough into roughly a 3 inch by 5 inch surface. Dust the surface with some of the cinnamon and sugar mixture. Add 1/6 of the apple filling. Make sure not to include any liquid. Fold the dough over to form a pocket. Seal the dough with fingertips first and then use a fork for extra sealant. Cut slits on top of the pockets for steam to escape. Brush pie with liquid from apple mixture. Sprinkle the top of the pocket with some more of the cinnamon and sugar mixture and place on baking sheet. Repeat the steps above for the remaining dough. Bake for 9-11 minutes at 425 F. Serve warm.

Makes 6 servings.

Recipe by The Gastronomer with inspiration from Epicurious and Cooking Light

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