Coconut Pastry Cream for Pies & Tarts

Thick, sweet and full of flavour, this is my go-to filling for coconut cream pies and tarts. The recipe yields enough to fill a fully baked 9 inch tart shell or a 9 inch pie pastry, and when chilled it is sturdy enough for tidy slices. A full cup of sugar in the mix allows the custard to hold its own in an unsweetened pie shell, as well as balances the richness of a whipped cream topping. Try pairing the filling with a chocolate crumb crust or a nutty shortbread base for a simple twist on a classic. When purchasing dried coconut, select organic products for the most authentic taste and texture.

Coconut Pastry Cream
For Pies and Tarts

Adapted from “Pastry Cream”, Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours


1 cup whole milk
1 cup full-fat coconut milk
3 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar (200g)
1/4 cup cornstarch (30g)
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3.5 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 oz)
1/2 cup unsweetened organic coconut, flaked or shredded


Cut the butter into small chunks and allow it to come to room temperature while you prepare the other ingredients.

Combine both milks in a small saucepan and set it over medium heat.

Combine the sugar, cornstarch, and eggs in a medium saucepan and whisk until the mixture is thick and lightened in colour.

When the milk begins to simmer, remove it from the heat and pour about 1/4 cup into the egg mixture while whisking vigorously to prevent the eggs from scrambling. Whisking constantly, slowly add the remaining milk.

Return the saucepan to the heat and continue to whisk while the mixture comes to a boil. Turn down the heat if necessary to prevent the bottom from scorching. Allow the mixture to boil for 1-2 minutes while whisking vigorously, until it is quite thick (about the consistency of mayonnaise). If overcooked, the cream will curdle and require straining.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and quickly whisk in the vanilla extract. Wait 5 minutes, then whisk in the butter one piece at a time. Scrape the pastry cream into a large glass bowl and stir in the coconut while it is still warm. Cover the surface with plastic wrap to create an airtight seal and allow the bowl to cool to room temperature before chilling.

The custard will keep for up to one week in the refrigerator.

Coconut Pie Pastry

What I love about basic pastry recipes, especially ones geared towards pies, is that there is so much room to do something unexpected. Espresso powder? Sure, go for it. Ground nuts? Take your pick. With so many options, from shredded cheddar to toasted coconut, sometimes it is not enough to leave well enough alone. Pair this coconut pastry with any of your favourite summer fruit pies, or try two new things at once with a fresh mango lattice pie like we did.

Coconut Pie Pastry


9 oz cake and pastry flour

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

 3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces (8 oz)

60g sweetened flaked coconut

6 tablespoons very cold water (3 oz)

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice ( .5 oz)


Preheat the oven to 325° F. Toast the coconut for 5-10 minutes or until light golden brown. Once it has cooled, pulse the coconut in a food processor just until you have fairly fine to medium crumbs.

Combine the water and lemon juice in a cup, and place in the freezer until the liquid is very cold but not icy. Whisk together the flour, sugar and salt to combine and aerate.

Add the cold, cubed butter to the bowl and toss to coat the butter with flour. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter until it resembles large flake oats with some pea-sized bits remaining. Use a fork to toss in the toasted coconut. Chill the bowl in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Pour the lemon water around the outside of the bowl, and quickly toss with a fork to disperse the liquid and combine the mixture. Gather the dough together and give it a few brief kneads against the sides of the bowl, just until it holds together, then wrap very tightly in plastic wrap. Chill the dough for at least 2 hours to give the flour some time to absorb the moisture, and to re-solidify the butter.

Remove from the fridge 20 minutes before rolling. Use as directed in your recipe of choice. The dough will keep for 2-3 days in the fridge or up to one month in the freezer.


Photo of the Day: All-in Apple Cake

Some ingredients for my favourite snacking cake, the all-in apple cake. I’m a sucker for texture, and this simple cake delivers the crunch. Besides the last of my northern spies, the cake is studded with sweet currents, toasted organic coconut, pecans, and a medley of freshly ground spices, including some inciting ceylon cinnamon. And it’s okay to eat it for breakfast.