Photo by the writer
Photo by the writer

While the coconut tartlet is very much a Scottish dessert, the star ingredient in this delicate pastry — the coconut — hails from Austronesia and can be traced back to the Neolithic period, around 10,000 to 12,000 years ago.

Domesticated by the indigenous Austronesia people in Southeast Asia, the coconut spread as far east as the Pacific Islands and west to Madagascar. It was later introduced to the South Asian region and North America by Arab and European colonial traders.

Despite its very tropical origins, the coconut tartlet is highly popular in Scotland as well as in other parts of the United Kingdom. Afterall, what’s not to like about jam and coconut, and that too in a crunchy tart? This version replaces the traditional strawberry jam with mango — if we are going tropical, why not all the way?

These light-to-eat coconut tartlets are an ideal addition to a summer tea time

Coconut and Mango Tartlets

These delicate tartlets add a certain finesse and je ne sais quoi to tea time; they are summer in a pastry. While traditionally strawberry or raspberry jam is used in these tartlets, go with whatever jam you prefer: mango, as used here, or with whichever fruit is in season — be it guava or cherry or raspberry.

The key to getting a crisp tartlet is to blind bake — essentially baking the pastry before the filling is added. This is all the more important when there’s a liquid filling (as there is in this case). The last thing you want — as they say in the TV show The Great British Bake Off — is a “soggy bottom.”

Ingredients (Makes 12-15 Tartlets)

For the pastry

200g plain flour
25g icing sugar
120g unsalted butter, chilled
1 egg yolk
1/8 teaspoon salt
Water, as needed

For the filling

2/3 cup jam, strawberry or mango
1/3 cup sugar
85g unsalted butter
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 fine desiccated coconut
4 tablespoons flour
Shredded coconut, as needed

Method

  1. First, make the pastry. Stir the dry ingredients together till they are mixed well. Cut the chilled butter into small cubes and then add a bit at a time, rubbing it with the mixture till you have a crumb-like texture.

  2. Add egg yolk and mix well, kneading till a dough forms. Add cold water if/as needed. Roll the dough into a large ball. Place the dough between two wax paper sheets and roll out into a three mm (millimetre)-thick rectangle.

  3. Place in the fridge for half an hour. After the dough has chilled, remove the wax paper and place on a flat surface. Cut into circles using a cookie cutter; the circles should be a little larger than the containers the pastries will be placed in. These tarts can be made in tartlet tins or a muffin or cupcake baking tray.

  4. Grease the baking tray with butter and lightly dust with flour. Then, gently line the circle doughs in the holes/cups of the baking tray or the tins. The thickness should ideally be three to four mm. Prick the bottom of the tart dough with a fork.

  5. Line each of the tartlets with a baking/parchment paper or a cupcake paper cup, weighing them down with raw beans or rice. Please note: do not use wax paper here as it will burn in the oven and isn’t heat-proof.

  6. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Take out of oven to cool.

  7. Make the filling. Mix the sugar, egg, butter and vanilla in a bowl until creamy. Then fold in the the desiccated coconut and flour. Set aside. Spoon two teaspoons of jam into each baked tartlet. Then spoon the coconut mixture on top of the jam layer. Sprinkle with shredded coconut.

  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 180°C or until the coconut filling is browned. Set aside to cool for 15 minutes before removing from the baking tray or tins.

Serve with hot tea. Enjoy!

Published in Dawn, EOS, June 11th, 2023

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