Delicious Coconut Tarts, Chinese Bakery-Style

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These Chinese bakery-style coconut tarts have a moist, custard-coated grated coconut filling and a crisp, tender and buttery shortcrust pastry. It’ll be hard to stop at just one!
Delicious Coconut Tarts, Chinese Bakery-Style

I am such a fan of Chinese bakery-style coconut tarts! There’s just something special about moist coconut and custard in a light and flaky pastry that makes these coconut tarts irresistible.

I’ve been meaning to update this recipe for the longest time, so I’m excited to share this tested shortcrust pastry and delicious coconut filling used to make these scrumptious coconut tarts.

Coconut Tarts

And in case you’ve noticed, these coconuts tarts are deliberately filled to go above the tart shells. Browned and caramelised crusted tops are how I love eating these.

What makes these coconut tarts irresistible!

Moist custard-soaked coconut filling with just the perfect sweetness

The tip to getting really moist coconut filling is to use freshly grated coconut, and not desiccated coconut. The moistness, texture and flavour of freshly grated coconut is unmatched.

Delicious Coconut Tarts, Chinese Bakery-Style

Here in Singapore, and generally in South-East Asia, we can easily buy fresh-as-you-can-get grated coconut in supermarkets. These come packaged with a short shelf-life, and are usually found in the chilled or refrigerated sections.

But if you can’t get your hands on grated coconut, unsweetened shredded coconut would be the next best option. I’ve used dried desiccated coconut filling, and the coconut tarts turn out pretty good too.

I, for one, don’t believe that not having the ideal ingredients for a recipe should discourage you from baking or cooking foods that interest you. We’ll always find a way to make do!

So just in case dried desiccated coconut is what’s only available where you are, I’ve included the alternative recipe amount in the recipe card below so you can bake these delicious tarts.

This shortcrust pastry makes light, flaky and buttery tarts

This truly is a wonderful sweet shortcrust pastry! It is similar to the pastry dough used to bake my favourite apple pie, so I knew it would work beautifully for coconut tarts as well. The dough comes together quickly by hand, and is easy to handle.

Coconut Tarts

Blind baking or pre-baking tart shells ensures tarts stay crisp

I used to skip blind baking tart shells, seeing it as another step in the baking process that I’d rather avoid to save time.

But having since trained as a baker, it’s become second nature to me especially when dealing with moist fillings like this custard-soaked coconut.

Now, you might be thinking, “Hey Celia, lots of Chinese coconut tart recipes out there don’t require this extra step.”. Yes, I’ve seen these recipes too.

This is simply me sharing what is considered best practice to prevent tarts from getting soggy when they hold moist or wet fillings.

Blind baking could sound intimidating, but it really isn’t. In fact, it couldn’t be easier than letting your tarts bake empty before you add your fillings.

Basically, you’re pre-baking empty tart shells. It won’t add too much time. But the reward you get when you eat these coconut tarts will be completely worth the effort!

Chinese Bakery-Style Coconut Tarts

Can I do blind baking without weights?

The simple answer is yes, you can. Because these are small tarts, the likelihood of the tart shells puffing up due to steam being released during the baking process is improbable. The practice and purpose of using weights in blind baking is to prevent the bottom of the tarts puffing and the sides from sagging.

Instead of using weights, prick a few holes in the base of the tart and blind bake. I actually did both, pricking holes as well as using weights in my step-by-step photos. This is simply for illustrative purposes, and you can do one or the other.

Ingredients for coconut tarts

So let’s get to the essence of this recipe. Here are the ingredients you’ll need for the shortcrust pastry and the coconut filling.

I always start with the pastry dough first and while it’s resting, make the coconut filling.

The pastry dough can be done totally by hand, unless you’re making a double or triple batch. In which case, a stand mixer fitted with a dough attachment will make it easy work.

The filling is super easy to put together. You basically mix all the filling ingredients and give it a good stir.

For the pastry dough:

  • Butter, chilled
  • Icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
  • All-purpose or plain flour
  • Egg yolks
  • Salt
The photo above shows the pastry dough recipe ingredients for a double batch. Please use actual amounts as listed in the recipe card below.

For the coconut filling:

  • Eggs
  • Sugar
  • Coconut milk
  • Milk
  • Butter, melted
  • Grated coconut (may be substituted with desiccated coconut in smaller quantity; see recipe card below)
  • Yellow food colouring (optional)

Step-by-step: How to make coconut tarts

Make the shortcrust pastry

  • In a mixing bowl, stir flour, icing sugar and salt to mix well. Add chilled butter cubes and rub into the flour until the mixture resembles a sandy mixture or breadcrumbs.
  • Add egg yolks, and cut into the flour-butter mixture with a dough scraper until the dough starts to come together. Finish up kneading by hand until the dough becomes smooth and evenly coloured after incorporating the yolks.

Prepare the coconut filling

  • In a mixing bowl, combine eggs, sugar, milk, coconut milk and yellow food colouring (optional). Whisk by hand until sugar dissolves.
  • Add in melted butter and whisk to combine well. Tip in grated coconut and stir to combine well. (If using desiccated coconut, please read the notes in the recipe card below.)

Make the coconut tart shells and blind bake

  • Step 1. Press pastry dough into the tart moulds. If your tart moulds are not non-stick, remember to grease the base and sides generously with butter. The first batch I baked a few days ago, I used a tart pan (pictured in the step-by-step) and forgot to do so. My poor tarts stuck to the moulds after baking! I had to work a bit to release them, and didn’t get nice looking sides. The second time around, I used non-stick individual tart moulds. See how pretty these coconut tarts turned out!
Coconut Tarts
  • Step 2. Cut away the extra dough with a small knife to get clean edges on the tart shells. All those loose, cut pieces of dough can be mixed in with the remaining dough, so there’s as little waste as possible.
  • Step 3. Cut squares of baking paper, large enough to line the inside and up the sides of the tart shells. Fill with ceramic or metallic baking beans, uncooked dried beans or rice grains. These can be kept and re-used for future blind-baking. OR, instead of using weights, lightly prick holes into the base of each shell with a fork.
  • Step 4. Blind bake tart shells in preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until they bake to a light golden brown. Carefully remove the baking beans, by lifting up the baking paper squares, as they will be hot to the touch.

Fill the tart shells with coconut filling and bake

You’ll find that the coconut filling has quite a bit of liquid content because of the custard mixture of eggs, sugar and combined milk.

If you prefer, you can strain the coconut filling. Do not press out any juices from the flesh when you do this, as it should be soaked as heavily as possible. Fill the tart shells with the custard-soaked coconut flesh.

Then, spoon just enough of the liquid custard to fill up to almost the edge of the tart. Don’t overdo it, otherwise the custard will bubble over the edges of the shells during baking.

Heck, that happens to my tarts all the time! So don’t stress if your tarts have a little too much liquid. If you are using individual moulds, make sure to place a tray below to catch any liquids or juices that overflow.

Once baked to beautiful, golden brown crusty tops, remove from the oven and allow the tarts to cool in their moulds for 15 minutes. The coconut tarts will firm up as they cool.

Then, gently release the tarts from the moulds and allow to cool completely on a baking rack. Once cooled, store tarts in an air-tight container for up to a day after baking.

Delicious Coconut Tarts, Chinese Bakery-Style

How to store and re-heat coconut tarts

After the first day, baked coconut tarts should be kept sealed and chilled in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

To reheat, warm up in a moderately hot oven set at 140°C (284 °F) for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the tarts feel just hot to the touch.

Place foil or baking paper over the tarts if you don’t want the tops to brown further. Remove from the oven and let the tarts cool for 5 minutes, to allow them to crisp up.

Here are more sweet bakes you might enjoy:

Tried this recipe? I’d love to see! Remember to share your pics on Instagram and tag @foodelicacy or #foodelicacy.

Pin this recipe!

Coconut Tarts
Delicious Coconut Tarts, Chinese Bakery-Style

Delicious Coconut Tarts, Chinese Bakery-Style

Yield: 12 to 15 tarts
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour

These Chinese bakery-style coconut tarts are just like those you get in Chinatown and the heartlands! Moist coconut custard filling and a flaky, buttery shortcrust pastry makes this a delicious treat any time of day!

Ingredients

FOR THE SHORTCRUST PASTRY

  • 120 g unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
  • 25 g confectioner's sugar (icing sugar)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 200 g plain flour
  • ⅛ tsp salt

FOR THE COCONUT FILLING

  • 2 eggs
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 60 g coconut milk
  • 20 g fresh milk
  • 50 g butter, melted
  • 3 - 5 drops yellow food colouring (optional)
  • 250 g grated coconut (or 90 g dried desiccated coconut)

Instructions

MAKE THE SHORTCRUST PASTRY:

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Position an oven rack in the lower third (just below centre) of the oven.
  2. In a mixing bowl, stir flour, icing sugar and salt together to mix well.
  3. Add chilled butter cubes and rub into the flour until the mixture resembles a sandy mixture or like breadcrumbs.
  4. Add egg yolks, and cut into the flour-butter mixture with a dough scraper until the dough starts to come together. Finish up kneading by hand until the dough is smooth and even coloured. DO NOT OVER-KNEAD or else the pastry will be tough.
  5. Set it in the chiller while you make the filling.

MAKE THE COCONUT FILLING:

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine eggs, sugar, milk, coconut milk and yellow food colouring (optional). Whisk by hand until sugar dissolves.
  2. Add in melted butter and whisk to combine well. Tip in grated coconut and stir to combine well. (If using desiccated coconut, please read notes below.)


BLIND-BAKE THE TART SHELLS

  1. Line the tart moulds with pastry dough, pressing gently into the moulds. The thickness should ideally be between 3 - 4 mm.
  2. Line the tart shells with a cut square of baking paper. Fill with baking beans or rice. OR instead of using weights, lightly prick the base with a fork. Bake in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the tart shells are a light golden brown.
  3. Remove the baking beans and baking paper.

FILL TART SHELLS WITH COCONUT FILLING AND FINAL BAKE:

  1. Spoon the coconut filling into each tart shell. Do not spoon too much liquid, leaving about a 2-mm border around the tart edge clear of filling. Note: If desired, strain the coconut filling before filling. Do not press any juices out from the flesh when you do this, as it should be soaked as heavily as possible. Then, fill tart shells with the flesh. Finally, spoon just enough of the liquid custard to fill up to almost the edge of the tart. Don't overdo it, otherwise the custard will bubble over the edges of the shells during baking.
  2. To create a slightly dome-shaped filling, pile some strained coconut flesh in the centre (please read Notes below).
  3. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until coconut tops brown evenly. Bake for a few minutes longer if you like the crusted tops.
  4. Remove from oven and let the tarts cool in their moulds for 15 minutes. Gently remove from tart moulds and cool on a baking rack.

Notes

Amount of shortcrust pastry dough and coconut filling

  • This recipe makes 12 to 15 tarts, based on a 2½-inch tart mould. The number will vary depending on the size of your tart pan or individual tart moulds.
  • The amount of filling is sufficient for up to 15 (2½-inch tarts), including topping up the filling.
  • The coconut filling has a high liquid content because of the custard mixture of eggs, sugar and milks. If you prefer, you can strain the coconut filling after mixing. Do not press any juices out from the flesh when you do this, as it should be soaked as heavily as possible. Fill the tart shells with the custard-soaked coconut flesh. Then, spoon just enough of the liquid custard to fill up to almost the edge of the tart. Don't overdo it, otherwise the custard will bubble over the edges of the shells during baking.
  • If you find that you need more grated or desiccated coconut to 'top up' the tart, be sure to mix the additional coconut into the same liquid custard. Mix well to allow the liquid custard to evenly coat and 'colour' the coconut flesh all over. This liquid custard will also hold the coconut flesh together. Fill upwards towards the centre of the tart, shaping the filling into a slight dome.

How to store unused shortcrust pastry dough

  • The shortcrust pastry dough can easily be doubled if you think you may need more. Unused pastry dough can be stored for future use. Wrap in several layers of cling wrap, seal in a freezer bag and freeze. It will keep well for up to 1 month.

How to replace grated coconut with dried desiccated coconut

  • If using dried desiccated coconut, you will need to increase the amount of fresh milk from 20 gm to 60 gm instead, so that the desiccated coconut can absorb more fluids and become moist and crunchy.

    Nutrition Information:
    Yield: 15 Serving Size: 1
    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 265Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 62mgSodium: 86mgCarbohydrates: 29gFiber: 2gSugar: 16gProtein: 3g

    All nutritional values are approximate only.

    7 Comments

    1. Hi Doris, thank you so much for sharing! Egg tarts are on my to-do list, and I’m test baking a couple of recipes myself. I’m picky about getting it perfect, ha ha! Hopefully, I can share a really good recipe here soon. You’ll be the first to know!

    2. Hi Celia. Greetings. Just to share with you that today I attempted the egg tart using recipes from other websites and the output is not nice. Their ratio of so much milk to few eggs was off (luckily I applied my own initiative to add whipping cream to thicken the mixture) Overall, the egg tart mixture was not acceptable plus the egg custard puffed up nicely during baking and then when cooled, it deflated and wrinkled. I am sticking to your delicious coconut filling for now.

    3. Thank you, Celia. I look forward to your custard egg tart recipe. It will be a heavenly delight to serve both coconut tart and egg tart to your loved ones. Cheers, Doris

    4. Hi Doris, I really think you read my mind sometimes! I’ve been wanting to try out using this recipe to make egg (custard) tarts for my next bake. I’m testing a few egg fillings. If you don’t mind sitting on this a while, you’ll be the first to know as soon I find one that I KNOW is worthwhile to try!

    5. Hi Celia. I would like to make a custard egg filling. Can you kindly advise how to improvise the filling please? Many thanks and kind regards, Doris

    6. Hi Doris, thank you so much for the vote of confidence. I always treasure your input, feedback and suggestions. I hope you enjoy these coconut tarts!🥰

    7. Hi Celia, thank you so much for the coconut tart recipe. I am sure it will be another winner and I cant wait to bake these this week. The ingredients are so simple and easy to get. Woo hoo.. heavenly delights.

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