I am not a huge fan of coconut, but Josh is. So when I make anything coconut-flavored, it is just for him, which he doesn’t mind at all! He does share with our son, Ian, who also likes coconut, but it’s easier to share with one child than with six.

My mother-in-law makes a coconut cream pie for holidays like Christmas, Easter, or Thanksgiving, and she will usually make two, one for my father-in-law and one for Josh. The recipe for this coconut cream pie has interesting family history behind it. Josh’s Great-Grandma Braley would make this coconut cream pie every Thanksgiving. Josh’s dad really loves this pie, and in the 1980s, Josh’s family was stationed on Guam. Josh’s dad was missing having his Grandma’s Thanksgiving pie, so Josh’s parents called New York long-distance at $1 a minute to get the recipe from Great-Grandma Braley over the phone. And Great-Grandma Braley’s coconut cream pie has been a delicious staple at many special occasions ever since.

It’s an easy pie to make but it’s very rich! Josh usually has trouble eating a whole pie himself. So he asked me if I could make a smaller version of the coconut cream pie. I thought a coconut cream tart would work perfectly, and it did.

The tart crust is an almond shortbread crust from Dorie Greenspan. I just replaced half the flour with almond flour to give it more interesting flavor. I love this crust so much that I will sometimes double it to use as pie crust. I don’t like using my food processor though (it’s clunky!) so I just cut the butter in with a pastry cutter and then using a fork, toss the mixture with the egg yolk until the dough starts to come together. I finish the dough off with my fingers until it forms a ball and I can easily press it into a 9″ tart pan or a deep dish pie pan if the recipe has been doubled.

This coconut cream tart is not exactly the same as the original recipe, but Josh liked it, Ian liked it, and I even ate a piece or two! It has definitely spoiled Josh from liking any other kind of coconut cream pie; they just aren’t right!

If you make it, I hope you enjoy this coconut cream tart as much as Josh and his family have over the years!

Coconut Cream Tart Filling

Servings: 8


  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut, for topping


  • Combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan. Gradually stir in the milk until smooth. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly, and boil for 1 minute, until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and vanilla. Once the butter has melted, stir in the unsweetened flaked coconut. Cool the mixture completely.
  • In a medium bowl, beat the heavy cream with an electric mixer until medium peaks form. Using a spatula, fold the whipped cream into the cooled pudding mixture. Spoon into a prepared tart crust.
  • Toast the remaining flaked coconut in a skillet over medium-low heat until golden brown, 5-10 minutes. Allow to cool. Top the coconut cream tart with the cooled toasted coconut and chill until served.

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