tripping on coconuts – coconut tart w brown sugar glazed peanuts

tripping on coconuts – coconut tart w brown sugar glazed peanuts

Now that I have settled back into my New York life after a long vacation, I like to recall the flavors we found. While we were in Penang and Singapore, one ingredient repeatedly showed up in many dishes–coconut. It played the main role in some dishes as well as a supporting one in others by adding complexity in ways that were new and surprising.

Instead of recreating some of those dishes, which I’m sure wouldn’t be as good as the originals, I wanted to make desserts that were inspired by the experience–one of which was the combination of coconut with peanuts and brown sugar. The fragrant coconut is sweetened by caramel taste of the brown sugar. Peanuts add crunch and earthiness to the equation.

I decided on a Coconut Tart with Brown Sugar Glazed Peanuts. The tart shell is laced with coconut and filled with a luscious coconut cream. The topping of crunchy glazed peanuts, made with brown sugar, contrast beautifully with the soft silky texture of the tart. A hint of lime and a sprinkling of sea salt with the peanuts gave it a refreshing tingle.

This is first in a dessert series that I will be doing to celebrate our recent trip–my interpretation of what Asia has to offer.

Coconut Tart w Brown Sugar Glazed Peanuts


Tart Crust
  • 6 ounces animal crackers
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Coconut Cream Filling
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 14 ounces coconut milk (1 can)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup (3-1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 2 pieces
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Glazed Salted Lime Peanuts
  • 1 cups unsalted peanuts, toasted and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice,  freshly squeezed
  • 2 teaspoons lime zest (about 1 lime)
  • Lime zest strands from 1 lime
  • Malden Salt (optional)


Tart Crust

1. In food processor, pulse animal crackers, coconut, and sugar to fine crumbs; then continue to process until powdery, about 5 additional seconds. Add butter to crumb mixture and pulse to combine until crumbs are evenly moistened.

2. Empty crumb mixture into tart pan and place a film of plastic wrap over the crust mixture; use bottom of 1/4-cup dry measuring cup, press mixture evenly into bottom and up sides of tart pan. Trim edges with paring knife. (Crust can be a bit delicate at this point.) Place in refrigerator and chill for 20 minutes.

3. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Bake until fragrant and medium brown, about 18-20 minutes, rotating tart shell halfway through baking time. Set on wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

Coconut Cream Filling

1. Whisk yolks, cornstarch, and 1 tablespoon sugar in medium bowl until thoroughly combined. Set aside.

2. Bring coconut milk, whole milk, shredded coconut, 1/2 cup sugar, and salt to simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to ensure that sugar dissolves. Whisking constantly, gradually ladle about 1 cup hot milk mixture over yolk mixture; whisk well to combine. Whisking constantly, gradually add remaining milk mixture to yolk mixture in 3 or 4 additions; whisk well to combine. Return mixture to saucepan and cook until thickened and mixture reaches boil, whisking constantly, about 1 minute; filling must boil in order to fully thicken. (To determine whether filling has reached boil, stop whisking; large bubbles should quickly burst on surface.)

3. Off heat, whisk in butter and vanilla until butter is fully incorporated. Pour hot filling into cooled pie shell and smooth surface with rubber spatula; press plastic wrap directly against surface of filling and refrigerate until firm, at least 3 hours or overnight.

Glazed Salted Lime Peanuts

1. Line baking sheet with silpat or parchment, set aside.

2. Bring light brown sugar and water to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally to ensure that sugar dissolves. Turn the heat up to medium-high and continue to cook syrup until it reduced by half and thick in the consistency of maple syrup, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in peanuts, lime juice and zest. Spread peanuts onto prepared baking sheet and let cool slightly, 7-10 minutes.

3. Remove tart from refrigerator and peel off plastic wrap. Spread glazed peanuts on top of tart and garnish with strands of lime zest and sprinkling of Malden Salt (if use).

Recipe Notes

1. Tart shell can be baked 1 day in advance.

2. Coconut Tart is best eaten the day of but can be refrigerated up to 3 days.

3. Instead of Glazed Peanuts, you can make Peanut Brittle and garnish Coconut Tart with shards of brittle.