Amazing Microwave Custard for a Pie or Tart and My Favorite Cookie Crust

top down microwave tart 
I’m skipping the “Tuesdays with Dorie” selection this week — Toasted-Coconut  Custard Tart.  Instead of adulterating Dorie’s recipe which is too rich for my taste (and a few other problems I’m not admitting to), I was inspired to pull out my favorite recipe for custard filling and show you how easy it is to make in the microwave.

The results are absolutely amazing and not difficult or time-consuming.  Say good-bye to pudding mix forever. You control the flavor, the sweetness, and the richness when you make it yourself.

You might have noticed my love affair with the microwave. (Microwave Lemon Curd, Caramelized Nuts, Emergency Microwave Brownies) It began in 1970 when my mom purchased an Amana microwave oven.

They were new on the market at the time, costing around 500$ as I remember. Nobody we knew had ever heard of them. I loved showing it off to my friends.  Baked potatoes in minutes, leftovers reheated almost instantly, popcorn in a paper bag–oh, the miracles that happened in the tiny cavity of those first ovens.  Never mind the burned spots, exploding eggs, or sparking stray twisties.

In the eighties, I taught microwave cooking schools as appliance companies and stores sought to sell and then help consumers learn to use them.

Nowadays, the novelty seems to have worn off for a lot of people. It’s no longer cool or sophisticated.

bl and wh coconut tart

Just like you, I have a life to live and every minute counts.  When I can save time and get the same or better results, I’m in!

Because microwave ovens vary widely, each cook must adapt the recipe times to their own microwave.  It’s not hard. You just have to pay attention the first time or two you prepare something to see how it goes in YOUR microwave.

slice with fork

This method of cooking a cream/custard filling applies to most any custard recipe.  I have yet to find one that won’t work.  Try this with your grandmother’s chocolate pie, a favorite banana pudding or a soft custard sauce. 

Microwave Custard Filling

2 1/4 cups milk (I used 2%  but any milk will work, even skim)
4 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons butter

  Dump milk, egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch and salt into blender or food processor.  You could also whisk it well but results may not be as smooth.  Blend for about 10 seconds.  There may be a lot of foam.  That’s OK–it will disappear when cooked.

microwave cream story board_edited-1 

Second: Pour into 2-quart glass batter bowl.  (DO NOT USE A SMALLER CONTAINER–it could boil over and make a  mess.)  Cook in microwave on HIGH for 5-7 minutes.  Whisk well after each minute.  After 4 minutes, whisk every 30 seconds.  Watch filling carefully.  Do not answer the phone.  Do not pass GO.  Do not collect 200$! It will become thick in a split second and you want to be there to whisk and make sure filling cooks evenly.  When this happens it may look like a big lump rising up in the middle or one side. Whisk furiously and it will all smooth out. Trust me. Keep cooking till thick as pudding but do not allow to boil.  Practice makes perfect with this step. If it should turn out lumpy (beginner’s luck), put it through a sieve immediately.

Third: Stir vanilla and butter into thick custard.  Press plastic wrap over the surface to prevent a skin from forming.  Let cool on the counter (or in ice bath if you are short on time) until lukewarm, then pour filling into prepared crust.   Again press plastic wrap against surface and refrigerate until filling is cold and firm.

cooling cream 

To Make  Coconut Cream Tart as pictured:  Add 1/2 to 1 cup toasted coconut (which can also be done in the microwave) and a dash of coriander (thanks for the idea, Dorie) to filling. Pour filling into cookie pie crust.  There might be a little too much filling for the tart but if you make a 9-inch pie, you will need it all. Cover tart with sweetened whipped cream and garnish with toasted coconut shavings.

Speaking of coconut shavings, they are sold in a bag at my local Krogers next to the usual grated coconut. When toasted, they make the most wonderful topping for yogurt or as a snack all by themselves.

Skinny Secret:

Need to watch your calories?  Use skim milk and substitute two whole eggs for 4 egg yolks. Won’t hurt to experiment with the amount of sugar to suit your sweet tooth.

My Favorite Cookie Crust

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled butter, cut into 8 pieces
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

First:  Combine flour, sugar and salt in food processor.  Add butter and process until it looks like a cross between oatmeal and coarse cornmeal.

tart dough storyboard_edited-1 

Second:  Combine egg yolk, heavy cream and vanilla extract.  Process until most of dough rolls into a ball.  If necessary, sparingly add drops of cream to make it come together.

Third:  Press dough into a disk and wrap in plastic.  Refrigerate at least 1 hour.

tart crust story board 

Fourth: Roll dough into large circle. In the pictures you see a circular plastic bag that magically facilitates the rolling out process.

Dust inside of bag with flour.  Place dough inside and zip bag.  Roll out dough large enough to hang over edges of tart pan approximately 1/2 inch.  Open up bag.  Place tart pan upside down on top of dough.  Flip dough over into pan.  Carefully and without stretching, press dough into creases.  Instead of cutting dough at top edge, I prefer to fold excess (not more than 1/2 inch) dough back inside the edge of the pan so sides will thicker. Seems to help prevent crust from shrinking so much.

Note:  If you don’t have the cool plastic contraption pictured, roll out on lightly floured board or pastry towel similar to instructions seen here.

Fifth:  Freeze tart at least 30 minutes. Lay nonstick foil or butter the shiny side of aluminum foil and  fit flat but snugly inside of crust.  No need to use weights if you have frozen the tart.   Bake in 375 degree oven for 30-35 minutes.  Remove foil for last 8 minutes of bake time.  Gently push crust down if  you see it has begun to puff when you remove the foil.  Cool.


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{ 23 comments… read them below or add one }

Janet jones February 15, 2015 at 2:24 pm

Thank you so much for your great micro custard.My microwave is 1100 watt and I am having trouble keeping it from cooking too fast.I did stir every1minute and this seemed to help.Do you think maybe I should turn the power level down.I am having trouble with it getting so thick.Your recipe did the best but it is still a little too thick .Thanks for your help.


Paula February 15, 2015 at 7:15 pm

Wow! I wish I had your microwave. Yes, you could try several things. Reduce the power level, reduce the time in the oven, or add a little more liquid. I would start with reducing the time, then the power level.


Janet jones February 15, 2015 at 8:53 pm

Thank you for responding,I used your recipe and stirred it every minute for 4 minutes then added 30 seconds and it was already almost too thick.Will try again tomorrow .


Calene October 25, 2013 at 7:44 pm

Wow! I just ran across this recipe and so glad I decided to give it a try.
Yummm…..Thank you so much for sharing.


Paula October 27, 2013 at 8:14 pm

Great to hear it worked for you. I have been making cream pies in my microwave for many years. Definitely one of my favorite recipes.


Daphne June 4, 2013 at 4:45 am

Hi. Do you think I can convert this into Green Trea custard filling by adding matcha powder? If so, when is the best time to add it?


Denise April 17, 2013 at 6:36 pm

Exactly just what I needed–microwave custard! Thanks so much, the directions were perfect!


Vicki August 27, 2010 at 12:40 pm

This sounds great – I’m always on the lookout for “magical” microwave recipes – this qualifies! I spent quite a lot of time recently learning how to make tapioca in the mwave – it is a favorite comfort food of my husband, and he asks where it is when it has been a while, so I probably make it every other week or so. You’re so right about the 2 qt measure, it is so necessary to have the depth of that container to prevent boil-overs – and even then, you really need to watch it. My microwave tapioca will be one of my first featured recipes when I get my blog up and running. (I’m still searching for a good wordpress template.) Another great recipe! I’m quickly becoming a fan.


Diane August 23, 2010 at 11:16 pm

I used this recipe to make your coconut cream pie variation and it was so easy and delicious and everybody was impressed!! I need a little help though I want to make a lemon version got any hints on how much juice/zest I should use if I like mine tart. Sorry I’m still new at baking. Any help would be appreciated!!


Paula August 24, 2010 at 6:21 am

Have not tried lemon with this version. You might try the microwave lemon curd on my website. It’s also fabulous and just as easy.

I’m afraid adding very much lemon to a cream sauce would cause it to curdle. Just a hunch. Let me know if you try it.


Martha August 22, 2010 at 10:56 pm

OMG! This recipe is amazing! I have tried custard recipes for years and something always goes wrong… it’s too lumpy, it burns, it never sets. But this is idiot proof! Thank you so much for sharing!


Kayte March 6, 2010 at 12:11 pm

So beautiful and your topping swirled like that really adds to all that…who would not want a piece of this??? Loved reading your take on all of this, hints, helps, suggestions, etc. — always nice to learn new things! Thank you.


Mimi March 4, 2010 at 9:46 am

I love using the microwave to cook as opposed to just reheating or melting. My son is the pudding/custard maker in our house so I’ll pass this along to him.


NutriiVeda March 3, 2010 at 10:28 am

Time to pop this in the microwave and get started!!! Interesting recipe. Thanks!


Sis March 2, 2010 at 7:16 pm

Can I substitute flour for the cornstarch in the custard filling?


Romaine March 2, 2010 at 7:39 pm

Yes, a resounding YES to the flour. I used flour for many years but decided recently I liked the cornstarch better. Suit yourself.


Michelle March 2, 2010 at 2:54 pm

Well all be darn does this look good. Loving tarts today!


Susan March 2, 2010 at 8:29 am

Wow! That sounds so simple. I am going to give it a try. 🙂

I piped the whipped topping on my tart making “e’s” around the edge, then moving inside and repeating till the whole tart was covered. Then I piped stars in the holes. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!


mike March 2, 2010 at 3:14 am

I can vouch for the microwave custard – ingenious! I just need to practice more, but what a timesaver! The tart looks stunning – and I’ll have to try your crust recipe… mine was a bit crumbly!


Jill March 1, 2010 at 7:39 pm

I enjoy your microwave recipes! You don’t really see microwave cooking classes anymore, do you? They used to be a big deal!


Katrina March 1, 2010 at 11:18 am

Fabulous! Love the use of the microwave! I just finished 1/3 recipe of the TWD one.


Susie March 1, 2010 at 6:36 am

This cookie crust is really good! I know why you call it your favorite…yum, yum!


Sandy February 28, 2010 at 11:15 pm

Hey Romaine,
This looks so awesome. I think I will be making this soon. I checked out your site earlier looking for a new recipe and didn’t see one so you can imagine how thrilled I was when I checked it out before bed to discover this one. I know I will be having SWEET dreams. It is a blessing to check out your site at home now on my new laptop. A special friend gave it to me. I loved the microwave story as well.
What a great invention.


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