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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
For the coconut filling:
- Coconut 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!
- 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.
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:
- Famous Lemon Cake – Bake this All-Time Tea Favourite
- Blueberry Pie
- Mixed Berry Galette – Bewitching, Berrylicious & A Breeze to Make!
- Pineapple Tarts – Treats for Festive & Everyday Occasions!