Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Coconut Cream Tartlets

Celebrate Spring with Delicious Little Coconut Cream Tartlets

May is filled with activity. We're all as busy as the bees swarming our blooming shrubs and trees.

There are school parties, bridal showers, graduations, parties of every kind. It's the perfect time of year, as we enjoy the natural progression of spring, to break out the party hats.

I suggest you begin by remembering your Mom on Mother's Day. This is a delicious way to say 'thank you' .

And by all means, grace your upcoming party table with these sweet spring treats. They taste as scrumptious as they look.

The ease of this recipe makes it perfect for such a busy time. The Pillsbury Bake-Off awarded $1,000,000 last month for a similar recipe using refrigerated sugar cookie dough to make cookie cups, but the million dollar recipe cups were filled with vanilla ice cream and topped with a raspberry. I'll admit I had a bad reaction. It's a great recipe, but for $1,000,000 I would hope for a little more.

So, if that was a million dollar recipe, this could be worth, oh, at least two million!

I was enjoying the musings of my friend Warren Bobrow, editor of the Wild Table in the Wild River Review, when I came across an article with a picture of a luscious piece of Coconut Cream Pie. It took me back to my childhood, and the Coconut Cream Pie they served at the Hub, a diner just outside Galax. I wonder if it was really as good as I remember. Anyhow, it just so happened that the picture that started my culinary day dreaming turned out to be the pie of Warren's wife, Julie, who is a pastry chef in New Jersey. So, I emailed Julie, and begged her for the recipe. She was gracious, and not only shared her secret with me, but gave me permission to share it with you.

Turns out, she used to make the cream custard all from scratch until a catering friend of hers suggested she try this little trick. I think you're going to like it! And believe me, they ARE delicious. They look and taste like you spent hours, but really they only take minutes!

Coconut Cream Tartlets

(makes 48 tartlets)

2 (16oz.) packages (24 each) of refrigerated sugar cookie dough (I use Pillsbury)

2 tsp. granulated sugar

3 cups heavy whipping cream

1 cup half and half

2 (3.5oz.) packages Instant Vanilla pudding

1 T almond extract

1 small package shredded coconut, toasted*

*(Spread coconut on sheet pan. Place in 275° oven, stirring occasionally until beginning to brown, about 15 minutes. Remove and cool.)

Preheat oven to 350°.

Spray two 24 space mini-cupcake pans with butter flavored Pam.

Fill pans with raw cookie dough pieces and bake for about 16 minutes, until cookies are lightly golden brown.

Remove pan from oven, and very gently press each cookie down with the end of a wooden spoon dipped into granulated sugar, just enough to make a little cup indention. (There is a wooden kitchen tool made for this, but your wooden spoon end will work just fine.) Let cookies completely cool in pans.

Gently remove cookie cups from pans.

Add whipping cream, half and half, instant pudding and almond extract to mixing bowl. Whip until the consistency of firmly whipped cream (completely holds its shape), about 3-4 minutes.

Fill each cooled cookie cup with cream filling. Dip each tartlet top into the toasted coconut. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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