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Tru Bahamian Must Eat: Coconut Tart

Bahamian confections are aplenty for those with a strong sweet tooth! From Sweet Breads to Guava Duff and island-inspired ice creams using mango, soursop, and sapodilla, you’ll never run out of desserts and candies to nibble on when visiting our islands. Considered one of our all-time favourite Bahamian treats is the revered Coconut Tart- a staple dessert that is simple to make, easy to like, and simple to search out when in Nassau…

Origins Of Coconut Tart

Credit: Foodsmiths Foodie

Coconut Tart (or some variation of this treat) is a highly regarded baked good throughout the complete Caribbean region. As was customary for our West African ancestors, we use coconuts here within the islands in a wide range of ways. The “milk” is a natural sweetening agent in curries, stews, rice dishes, and breads while the coconut “flesh” is often added to baking dishes for desserts and even some beverages.

Interestingly, coconuts should not indigenous to The Bahamas-  they were dropped at the archipelago 500 years ago via marine currents and seafaring migrants from South America, the continent on which the fruit is assumed to have originated. Once here, coconuts thrived in our sandy soil and humid climate, faring well even during strong hurricanes as a result of their high tolerance of salt water and buoyant trunks. For that reason, coconuts grow on nearly every island and cay here in The Bahamas and have become a preferred additive to tarts for British settlers throughout the 1600’s and the centuries to follow.

The natural appeal of the Coconut Tart is that it requires far less work to organize than a standard pie because it uses only basic ingredients but still ends in an irresistible dessert or snack. It’s no surprise that this specialty quickly became a singular treat of its own here in The Bahamas.

What Is Bahamian Coconut Tart?

a close up of a piece of bread

Credit: Swiss Pastry Shop

Bahamian Coconut tart may be very unlike traditional tarts. Our Coconut Tart doesn’t employ a flaky crust base, but as an alternative resembles a really doughy (almost bread like) cake covered with a thick layer of fruit filling. This cake is made with flour, shortening, butter, eggs, milk, vanilla, and baking powder, sweetened only flippantly with sugar. The fruit filling comprises fresh, blended coconut together with easy syrup and nutmeg to focus on the saccharine nutty and earthy taste of the fruit. Thick and chunky, the hearty filling is slathered on top of the sweet dough- the 2 textures perfectly complementing each other- after which baked until you’ve gotten a golden brown outside and delicious gooey center.

Variations Of Coconut Tart

a close up of a coconut tart

Credit: Tru Bahamian Food Tours

Since our version of a “tart” is comparatively easy to make, we commonly use many differing types of fruit fillings besides coconut, including local tropical fruits corresponding to: pineapple, tamarind, and guava. As mentioned earlier, we prefer to make use of a cake/dough base slightly than a flaky crust here within the Caribbean, but Bahamian Coconut Tart differs greatly from other varieties found throughout the West Indies. In lots of parts of the Caribbean, Coconut Tart retains the looks of a standard English tart and adds thin strips of dough to the highest of the filling in a crisscross pattern to duplicate a pie. In The Bahamas, nonetheless, we mostly prefer so as to add a second layer of sweet dough to the tart in order that the fruit filling is sandwiched between the layers. This stretches the batch further, as each slice is rather more filling with an additional layer of cake on top!

Where To Find Coconut Tart In Nassau

a sandwich sitting on top of a paper plate

Credit: Lovely Bay Development

Whether you’re planning to serve Coconut Tart at home or satisfy your hankering at a neighborhood restaurant, we wholeheartedly recommend trying this Bahamian favourite every time you next come across it. A few of Nassau’s best bakeries, confectioneries, and dessert menus could be found at:

Mortimer Candies – East Hill Street
Phone: (242) 322-5230
Mon-Fri, 9:00am – 6:00pm
Sat, 9:00am – 5:30pm
Sun, 9:00am – 5:00pm

Swiss Pastry Shop – West Bay Street
Phone: (242) 327-7601
Mon-Sat, 9:00am – 6:00pm

Beth’s Kitchen – Festival Place
Phone: (242) 327-7738
Mon-Sun, 9:00am – 5:00pm

The Poop Deck at Sandyport – West Bay Street
Phone: (242) 327-3325
Tues-Sun, 11:30am – 10:30pm

Café Martinique – Atlantis, Paradise Island
Phone: (242) 363-2000 ext. 63830
Sun-Mon, 6:00pm – 10:00pm

Ridge Farms
Phone: (242) 327-6319
Products could be found at Craft Cottage on Village Road,  Bahamas Sol Downtown on Bay Street, and at Saturday Farmers’ Markets in Nassau

 How To Make Bahamian Coconut Tart

a bowl of coconut shreds

Credit: In and Around Town

One of the best thing about Coconut Tart is that it’s a really satisfying stand-alone dish, incorporating smooth, creamy coconut flavor with dense cake pastry. As a rule, you’ll find Coconut Tart served as a day snack with tea or coffee. When you are serving it for dessert, nonetheless, you’ll be able to dress up your plate by adding vanilla ice-cream on top of a thick, hot slice, a dollop of whipped cream and even fresh coconut shavings for garnish.

For making your individual decadent batch at home, here’s a Coconut Tart recipe from Grandma Tookie in Long Island, where she still enjoys tea and tart under the coconut tree!

Sweet Dough Ingredients
¼ cup vegetable shortening
¼ cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ cup milk
1 ½ cups flour
3 tablespoons water

Coconut Tart Filling
3 cups fresh coconut, finely grated
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons nutmeg

Begin by preparing the coconut filling, combining all ingredients in a sauce pan over medium heat. Bring mixture to a boil after which reduce heat to a simmer for about 10 minutes or until the liquid evaporates. Let cool while preparing the dough.

To organize the dough, mix shortening and butter until blended. Add sugar, eggs, milk, and vanilla and blend well. Next, add the dry ingredients, including baking powder and flour, and blend until the dough becomes sticky. Knead the dough until it’s stiff enough to roll. Divide the dough into two balls, one for the underside layer and one for the highest. Roll out one piece right into a 9×9 casserole dish. Fill the dish layered with dough with the coconut filling, after which roll the remaining dough piece on top.

Bake at 350℉ for about 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Let cool for quarter-hour.

Alternative Preparation
When you prefer using one other fruit as an alternative of coconut, try pineapple! Just substitute the Coconut Tart Filling with 4 cups of fresh crushed pineapple OR two cans crushed pineapple simmered with two cups of sugar for a decadent Pineapple Tart.

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