Saturday, May 26, 2012

Walnut Coconut Chocolate Chip Tart

Today, I had the opportunity to be the kid in the candy shop. You know the one that walks in, sees all the glorious confectionery delights and oohs and aahs, while grabbing handful after handful of different treats dreaming of what each will taste like. That was me. Except I was in a bookstore. Half Price Books (HPB) to be exact...since they closed all the Borders around here, I've been starved for some of my favorite entertainment - that is, just walking around a bookstore, with the smell of printed paper, the sound of new book covers being crackled open, the occasional reader stuffed into a corner while they devour some new novel oblivious to the world around them (okay, sometimes that is me). Andy found HPB on a trip into Tacoma a couple weeks ago and called me from his cell phone while walking around the cavernous store. "You're going to love this place," he said. And I didn't doubt him.

We went in this morning, armed with books, movies and games we were ready to part with. HPB will buy these things from you at a greatly reduced rate. You can then turn around and use that money to buy books off their shelves! Manna from heaven people. Andy led me to the cooking section and that's where the candy-store kid was released. Oh my goodness, let's just say, I left with a smattering of gently used cookbooks that included offerings from Emeril Lagasse, Tyler Florence, Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa), Art Smith, and none other than my culinary hero, Alton Brown. No, I did not find the Good Eats Early, Middle or Late Years books, which are on my wish list, but I did find Feasting on Asphalt from a series he did a while back traveling throughout the U.S. on motorcycle while eating at local, sometimes hidden places that you might just pass by without another thought. I've spent the afternoon poring through the book, which is a fascinating read, not to mention filled with interesting-sounding recipes. After reading about Nana Deane's Pecan Coconut Pie that Alton found in Arkansas, I was inspired to make a version of my own for dessert tonight.

I wish I would've taken a picture of me taking the first bite of this tart/pie, but I couldn't pry my fingers from the fork long enough to reach for the camera. This tart/pie could win contests. I will steal a line from Alton when he ate Nana Deane's Pecan Coconut Pie..."this is the pie coconut was created for."

Walnut Coconut Chocolate Chip Tart/Pie
10.5 oz sugar
3 large eggs
2 oz. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
4 oz. buttermilk (no buttermilk? 1/2 cup milk + 1/2 tbs vinegar + 5 minutes sitting = stir and instant buttermilk)
3 oz. sweetened shredded coconut
3 oz. chopped walnuts (about 3/4 cup)
3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tbs. flour
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
Prebaked 9-inch pie crust or Prebaked 10-inch sweet tart crust (I made a Sweet Pastry dough - prebaked it as indicated below and then filled with the filling)

1. Prebake your pie crust or tart crust. If using the Sweet Pastry recipe, see below for directions.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, eggs, butter, buttermilk, coconut, walnuts, chocolate chips, flour, vanilla and salt. Pour into the pie/tart crust. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the pie/tart is golden brown and the center is barely set. Let cool for 40-45 minutes before serving.

Sweet Pastry
1.5 cups AP flour
2 tbs sugar
Pinch of salt
7 tbs chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 egg, separated
1/4 cup water

1. Combine the flour, sugar and salt in the food processor. Pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the egg yolk and 1/4 cup water and pulse until a soft dough forms. Remove from the processor and knead twice with the heel of your hand. Gather the dough into a ball and press into a disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate to rest for 1 hour. Refrigerate the egg white for later.

2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. When the dough has rested for at least 1 hour, roll into a circle slightly larger than you think you need. Drape into the tart shell, pressing to fit, and this is the important part, leave it draping a good inch over the outside edges. This prevents it from sinking down the sides and turning into a hard pancake.

3. Line the pastry with parchment and pour in dried beans, or whatever you use for weights. (This is called blind baking and it's important to prevent the shell from puffing up and ruining the shell.) Bake until completely cooked, 15-20 minutes. I cooked mine for 15 minutes, took off the parchment paper and weight, and then cooked for 5 more minutes. Brush the bottom with a bit of the beaten egg white to seal it and keep it crisp. Now, scrape the top edge of the tart with a sharp knife to remove the pastry overhang.

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