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.
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.
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.
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
First: 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.