Monday, June 18, 2012

Vietnamese Coconut Tartlets



When I flick through my Vietnamese cookbooks, the dessert section will contain dishes like crème caramels, flans, custards and tarts. These dishes are associated with the French and were brought over to Vietnam during the French colonization (1874-1954). They are commonly eaten by the Vietnamese, so much so that they have made it their own with a Vietnamese twist using ingredients like coconuts, Vietnamese coffee, condensed milk and pastry often contains shortening rather than butter.  

When I was traveling around Vietnam last year, I found many bakeries selling French desserts and the range and quality available was amazing. It was always such a treat to get a box of sweets for just a few Australian dollars. My friends and I would often wonder down to the local bakery after dinner to get dessert and bring it back to our hostel and unwind from the day’s travel by watching whatever was on MTV (Gaga, Katy Perry on repeat) or the movie channel (I think I saw the same Jennifer Lopez movie three times, the one where she gets pregnant). I generally don’t watch much TV but my consumption of junk TV seems to skyrocket when I’m on holiday, but it’s more background noise as my friends and I plan the travel adventures for the next day and we bond over taking the piss out of how unrealistic everything that we watch on TV is.

(photo that I took of a Bakery in Hanoi, Vietnam last year)
(photo that I took of a Bakery in Hoi An, Vietnam last year)

This month’s Sweet Adventures Blog Hop is hosted by fellow Perth food blogger, The Kitchen Crusader and the theme isSweet as Pie” which can be basically anything with a pastry base such as a pie, tart or galette. I decided to bake a French influenced Vietnamese dessert - Vietnamese coconut tartlets for this blog hop.



You’ll find coconut used in a lot of Vietnamese dishes, especially in desserts. Coconut enriches and provides sweetness to desserts so you don’t need to add much sugar. Vietnam is one of the top ten coconut producers in the world as Southern Vietnam enjoys a tropical climate all year round which is ideal for growing coconuts. The Ben Tre Province located in the Mekong Delta has been nicknamed by the “Land of Coconuts” as it’s the biggest province cultivating coconuts in Vietnam and contributes to half of the country’s coconut yield. 



To make the Vietnamese coconut tarts I adapted a recipe from The Foods of Vietnam by Nicole Routhier. The recipe states that it yields six 3-inch tartlets. I doubled the quantity of ingredients for the pastry dough and ended up with 8 tartlets, maybe I used too much dough to line each tartlet but I was happy with the thickness of the resulting tartlet cases. I found that only one quantity of the coconut mixture which I added a bit more double cream into was needed to fill all 8 tartlets. I used a mix of shortening and butter in the pastry, and also added in a bit of milk powder. I have a big tin a of milk powder at home which I first bought to make Momofuku’s crack pie and I am slowly using it up by putting a tablespoon here and there in all my baked goods for a bit of a flavour boost. Christina Tosi, the mastermind behind all the Momofuku Milk Bar Store treats uses a lot of milk powder in her baked goods to give them an interesting depth of flavour and refers to milk powder as the MSG for baked goods. I also blind baked the pastry shells before filling them with the coconut mixture. Routhier’s recipe does not require the pastry to be blind baked.


The pastry of the Vietnamese coconut tartlet is crumbly while the coconut filling is soft and flaky.




Vietnamese Coconut Tartlets

(adapted from The Foods of Vietnam by Nicole Routhier)

makes 8 tartlets (~4cm tart pans)

Ingredients

Pastry Dough
  • 55g vegetable shortening
  • 55g butter, softened and cut into pieces
  • 4 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon milk powder 
Coconut Mixture Filling
  • 2 cups desiccated coconut
  • 4 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 55g butter, softened and cut into pieces
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 4 tablespoons double cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Glaze
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tablespoon butter, melted and cooled

Method

To make the pastry In a bowl, beat the shortening, butter and sugar until fluffy. Stir in the egg yolks and vanilla, mix to combine. Add flour, baking powder and milk powder, and mix well. Turn the pastry out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead until it comes together into a dough and is smooth.


Press the dough into tartlet pans, prick the bases and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
To make the filling In a bowl, combine the coconut, sugar and butter together. Add egg yolk, double cream and vanilla. Blend well with hands to form a soft paste.



Preheat oven to 180C. Take the tartlets out of the refrigerator and blind bake them. Line the tarts with baking paper and fill with baking weights. Place the tartlets on a baking tray and bake for 10 minutes. 

Take the tartlets out of the oven and fill them with the coconut mixture, smooth the top. 



Bake the tartlets for 10 minutes. While the tartlets are baking, make the glaze – in a small bowl beat the egg yolk slightly and stir in the melted butter.


After 10 minutes, take the tartlets out of the oven and brush the surface and the crust edges of the tartlets with the glaze. Return to the oven and bake for another 5 minutes.

Cool the tartlets before unmolding



24 comments:

  1. delicious!
    I love the coconut candy from ben tre!

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  2. Gorgeous little tarts, they look delicious. I am pleased to have found your blog, I adore Vietnamese food so will return to sift through your recipes :)

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    1. Thanks Kyrstie :) Hope you enjoy the other recipes on my blog.

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  3. These look awesome! I travelled through Vietnam last year and fell in love with all of their pastries and desserts - my favourite was the little mini creme caramels that were about 20c!

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    1. Thank you :) Spent my days in Vietnam on the look out for bakeries, all so good and cheap too. The baguettes available were also amazing.

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  4. YUMMM Looks so much better than what I made for this blog hop:) I want one:):)

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  5. Yummo! This seriously brings back childhood memories. I used to have a similar tart but they had a glacé cherry topping it. Loved it as tasted like a macaroon

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    1. Thanks! I like to buy the coconut tartlets that you can find in Asian bakeries with the glace cherry on top. I have never thought about it before but you are right, they do taste like a macaroon.

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  6. These look perfect and gorgoues!

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  7. Your tarts look fantastic! I love coconut desserts but don't make them all that often as my fiance isn't so keen. What an interesting tip on adding milk powder to pastry. I will have to try this. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thanks Jennifer :) It's handy having a tin of milk powder around the house, sometimes if I don't have any fresh milk I'll make some milk using milk powder for baking.

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  8. These look just perfect - and are making me crave coconut madly! Thanks for joining :)

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    1. Thanks JJ :) Look forward to joining more SABH!

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  9. I love those little tart tins! I've been trying to make individual tarts in muffin trays, and they never quite work properly and now I know why!

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    1. Hi Nic, the little tart tins are a worthwhile investment. I recommend getting the ones with a removable base which makes the tarts easier to remove, especially since they are quite fragile.

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  10. Your tarts look very delicious. I would like to give them a go.... but what have you used for vegetable shortening....copha?

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    1. Thanks Tania :) Yes, I used copha and I grated it to make it easier to beat into a dough.

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  11. Wonderful tarts :) The pastry looked great. Definitely worth using shortening for the flaky effect.

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  12. Ai Ling, your tarts look incredible. I can just imagine how good these would taste. Gorgeous recipe.

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  13. As I am a big fan of coconut I know I would love these... delicious!

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  14. I love that whole idea of different cuisines coming together, or being adapted in a new context. This is a perfect, delcious example of that.

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