Trinidad Style Coconut Tart

3.5.16 | Recipe by Renz
A delectable pastry dough pocket filled with sweetened shredded coconut and "stewed" with additional spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. A Caribbean snack that is a favorite across the board.

  
A stack of coconut tarts, on a printed plaid napkin on top of a brown wicker tray.



Baking is such an important part of the Caribbean culture. Walk into a local bakery, and you're met with a colorful array of freshly baked bread, pastries, cakes, and cookies.

You may think this is for commercial use. But nope. On Saturdays, households are known to bake up their own batch of goodies.

Coconut tarts use one of our staple Caribbean ingredients: coconut. To say that the coconut isn't an important part of our cooking I would be lying. Cooking and baking are not really complete without using some part of the coconut.

  

We use from the milk of the coconut, to the husk (some people call it the meat)  or even coconut cakes.

Trinidad-style tarts vary from a Jamaican coconut tart, which is also known as gizzada.

The TnT version is a closed dough with a sweet coconut filling. Using desiccated coconut, we sweeten it up with sugar and spices like nutmeg and cinnamon and fill our dough and bake it till golden brown.

My fondest memories of coconut tart are seeing my aunt, who had a bakery, making these. By the time she was done, she would be covered in flour from head to toe. Rolling, sealing, and making these in batches.

It's a pastry with a bread-type texture that we stuff with the meat of the coconut that has been stewed with sugar and some other spices. Oh so yummy!

Ingredients for coconut tart


  • sugar - I prefer to use brown sugar for this recipe but if you have granulated sugar, it can also be used.
  • coconut.
  • ginger powder.
  • nutmeg.
  • vanilla essence.
  • cinnamon.
  • bay leaf (optional).
  • all-purpose flour.
  • instant yeast.
  • water.
  • crisco.
  • yellow coloring (optional).

How to make coconut tart Caribbean style


This is a two-part process. I'm going to break down the process so that you get the maximum time and minimum stress in putting this together.

How to make coconut tart filling


You would already have your coconut shredded by now. If you were using fresh coconut, just throw the fresh meat into your food processor and get it shredded. In fact, if also use pre-packaged coconut, I would give it a few pulses because they are usually long pieces.

In a shallow medium-size pot, on medium heat, combine coconut, cinnamon, nutmeg, bay leaf, and ginger. Do this for about 10 minutes until coconut is tender and the flavors are combined.

How to make the dough


Combine your dry ingredients: sugar, yeast, and flour together in a large bowl. Then take your Crisco and incorporate it well into the batter.

Add water in parts to the flour mixture until you get a nice smooth texture with your dough.

Let that dough ball sit, covered with plastic wrap or a towel for about 30 minutes.

When ready, make that dough into about 16 small balls. Then cover these with a damp towel and let them sit for about 20 minutes.

Combining Tarts

  
A pic of the step by step process to fill coconut tarts.



Filling the tart is a pretty easy process. It's like any hand pie. I did the same process to make the curry crab-stuffed dumplings. Roll out, add the filling, fold.

Set your oven to heat at 350 degrees and also take your baking sheet and grease it lightly.

Roll out each dough ball on a lightly floured surface.

Take about 2 tablespoons of your coconut mixture and place it on one half of the dough. Then using some water, dampen the edges of the dough circle with water. Then fold over the other half closing the tart.

Then with a fork, seal the edges of the tart to seal everything.

Do this process till all your dough balls are filled.

Place baking tray into your preheated oven and bake for 20 minutes.

Then we have to make it look pretty, so we give it a wash of a sugar bath. I know sometimes people like to do an egg wash, but I love seeing a glaze on a tart. Remove from oven and apply glaze on tarts then return them to oven for another five minutes.

   
A pic of a hand adding glaze to some coconut tarts.


Remove and set on a wire rack and cool.

The smell of this is amazing. OMG.

And as much I would love to tell you to grab one of these as they come out of the oven, I really should warn you to wait for a little. Hot flaked coconut is not your friend. I've learned that the hard way.

Give it a little time to cool down.

So that when you bite into that and get a nice big clump of seasoned coconut with a bunch of spices, you won't have to spit it out doing the "too hot to handle" dance.

Cause I would really hate for you to waste such a great snack.

  
A pile of coconut tarts with a spoon of sweetened coconut.


Storage


These coconut tarts must be stored properly from early. They can be left out on the counter in an airtight container for about a day or two. After that, I would wrap them in plastic individually and store them in the fridge.

You can then eat them cold, take them out of the fridge and get to room temperature, and then put them in the oven for 5-7 minutes to warm up.

Notes


You can use fresh coconut or desiccated pre-packaged coconut. I know fresh coconut is sometimes hard to find or expensive and sometimes tricky to pick. You can get check out my coconut milk post on the best way to choose a fresh coconut.

If using packaged, get the unsweetened coconut flakes. And I always run this on the pulse in my processor for a few pulses to make the pieces a little smaller.

I'm curious though, do you use dry coconut in any of your dishes?

  
A coconut tart cut opened with the coconut showing.

Check out these other Caribbean Treats