According to Kevin Malone (seriously, if you aren’t an office fan, what’s wrong with you?) cookie season is the best season. I tend to agree. It’s hard for me to say no when I’m faced with some nice group of little girls outside of the nearest grocery store peddling their cookies but this year I’ve got their number. Everyone knows that samoas (or caramel delites, depending on where you’re from) are the best cookies. Shortbread cookie, caramel, toasted coconut and chocolate—what’s not to love??
As I’m looking ahead for my Valentine’s Day menu, I wanted a “grown up” version that would be elegant but still reminiscent of the delicious cookies. So I decided on a tart! The crust is basically a shortbread cookie that’s filled with a salted caramel sauce chock full of toasted coconut topped with the silkiest chocolate ganache ever and more toasted coconut. And more caramel. Because, why not? This tart was seriously so good. Sometimes I’ve got ideas for dishes in my brain but it’s hard to translate them into being—this was not the case for this dessert. It came out exactly the way I hoped it would and only took minimal effort. If you’ve never made your own caramel, now is the time! It’s so much easier than people think it is. If you’re nervous, I’ve got a tutorial video on my instagram highlights that walks you through it step by step here. Once you see how simple it is, you’ll never buy store bought again!
One thing I do want to mention is that this recipe does require a full blind bake of the tart shell since we won’t be doing any additional baking of the filling. For those of you who are unfamiliar, a blind bake is just cooking the tart shell without any of the filling in it. It’s usually weighed down with pie weights or beans to prevent the crust from puffing up. However, instead of using beans or pie weights I’ve been lining my crust with foil and filling it with SUGAR. Sugar is heavy and it settles into every nook and cranny of the crust. Don’t believe me? Read this Serious Eats article from Stella Parks (Bravetart). Then, once your pie is blind baked you’ll have lightly toasted sugar which is great for the caramel! No waste and the sugar will serve you way better than beans or pie weights. This method can be used for tarts and pies and now that I’ve done it, I’m never going back. Happy baking!
Products I used in this recipe:
- 1 1/3 cups (200g) flour
- 1/3 cup (80g) granulated sugar
- 1 stick (4 oz/113g) unsalted butter, cubed, cold
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar (toasted, see below)
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt or flaky sea salt
- 1 1/2 cups shredded, unsweetened coconut
- 6 oz. (180g) semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
- 1/2 cup (125g) heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons (45g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- To make the tart crust: Place flour and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and run for 1 minute. Stop the food processor and add the cubed, cold butter and pulse until the butter is pea sized. In a small bowl, whisk together egg, cream and vanilla and pour into the food processor. Pulse until the dough comes together in a ball. Lightly dust a work area with flour, knead the dough for 1 minute, shape into a disc and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, up to overnight.
- Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F. Turn the chilled dough out onto a floured surface and roll out to roughly a 13" circle, between 1/4-1/8" thick. If the dough cracks, that's okay, it can be pressed back together. Press the dough into a 10" tart shell with a removable bottom and trim any excess off the edges. If there are thin spots, patch up the dough with a little of the trimmings. Transfer the tart shell to a baking sheet and into the freezer for 25 minutes. Remove the tray from the freezer, and dock the crust with the tines of a fork over the bottom of the crust. Line the crust with a piece of foil and fill with 2 cups of sugar (sugar works better than pie weights, trust me). Smooth out the sugar so that it's in an even layer over the tart crust. Bake the crust for 20 minutes, remove the foil and sugar and bake for another 10 minutes (the crust should be golden brown now). Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
- To make the caramel-coconut filling: In the same heated oven, spread the coconut on a small baking tray and bake for 8 minutes until golden brown. Remove and cool. If your coconut pieces are large, use your hands to crunch them into smaller pieces. In a small saucepan, melt the butter and add 1 1/2 cups of the toasted sugar. Allow the sugar to melt, stirring every so often until the sugar is completely melted and amber in color. Add the cold heavy cream (the caramel will seize up, that's okay) and carefully stir--watch out for steam. Bring to a simmer while continuing to stir, until the caramel is smooth. Add salt and cool slightly. Stir in 1 1/4 cup of the toasted coconut and spread in the bottom of the tart crust in an even layer. Refrigerate to set the caramel.
- To make the ganache: warm the heavy cream and vanilla in a small saucepan until gently simmering. Place the chopped chocolate in a small bowl. Pour the cream and vanilla over the chocolate and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir until the chocolate is melted and smooth and then stir in the butter. Spread the ganache over the chilled coconut-caramel and top with remaining toasted coconut. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.