Strawberry and Coconut Milk Tart

I agonized for days about what to make with strawberries that would really show off the berries. I went through all twelve of my recipe books, but nothing seems quite right. I became frustrated and exasperated with my fruitless (or fruitful? Haha) quest.

Eventually, I gave up and decided to make something completely different. And you know what? It failed miserably.

I will definitely return to my failed creation and I don't want to give anything away, but it was a three-part failure. All three components of the dessert went a little bit wrong, which resulted in a whole lot of wrong as an overall dish.

I basically threw a tantrum when I put it all together and it looked terrible and tasted....just eh. I yelled at my failed dessert, as if somehow it was its fault and not my own. I realized I was talked to a dessert and sulked for the rest of the day.

It may not have been as terrible as I'm making it out to be. When I decide on something to make, I start imagining what it will taste and look like. When things don't turn out the way I envision, I get miffed. When one little thing goes wrong, whatever, I can look past it. But more than that and the anger storm starts brewing. 

Because of my failure, I got into a moody kind of mood. I wanted to bake something, but I was convinced it would turn out badly. I wanted to remake the failed dessert and redeem myself, but I didn't want to in case it turned out bad for a second time, which would mean it really was my fault.

Two days of this! Two days! I gave the entire dessert to my boyfriend, who is adamant that it is a tasty dessert, and tried to forget about it. And then, yesterday, it was like the clouds lifted. A beautiful ray of pure sunshine shone upon me, golden trumpets blasted, and a gentle yet knowing voice commanded me, "Get over yourself".  

That didn't actually happen, it was more like I became fed up with being grumpy one morning and decided to make a good ol' tart, because I love tarts.

Unfortunately, this is not a dairy-free dessert, as the crust has butter in it. I used the coconut milk mostly because I wanted to try something different. If you happen to have a dairy-free crust recipe, I would try it out with this!

The coconut milk definitely has a very coconutty flavour to it. I added 4 teaspoons of vanilla extract, plus half a vanilla bean (mostly because I had it lying around, you don't have to put it in at all). Even then, it still had a very strong coconut flavour and a little vanilla flavour. Feel free to adjust the vanilla and sugar to your liking. 

2 tablespoons sugar
5 1/2 cups strawberries, sliced

Sweet Pastry
Recipe from Williams-Sonoma Baking Book

1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons ice water, more if needed
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold, unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

Coconut Milk
2 cans full-fat Coconut Milk
4 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Refrigerate the coconut milk overnight.

Put your sliced strawberries in a medium bowl with 2 tablespoons of sugar. Gently stir the strawberries to evenly coat them with the sugar. Set aside for 2 hours at room temperature. This makes the strawberries a little bit softer, sweeter, and juicier. 

For the tart dough, combine the egg yolk, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons of water in a small bowl. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Using your fingers or a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the butter pieces are no bigger than small peas. Add the egg mixture and stir until a dough just comes together. If it is too dry, add another tablespoon of ice water. Give it a few kneads, but be careful not to knead it too much. Flatten into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Take the dough out of the fridge and put it on a lightly floured work surface. Roll out the dough to fit a 9 inch tart tin. Transfer the dough to the tart tin and press the dough into the sides of the tin so the dough rises a bit over the edge of the tin. Refrigerate for another 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Put an oven rack in the lower third of your oven. Remove the tart from the fridge. Using a piece of parchment paper or tin foil, place it in the tart and fill with dried rice, beans, or pie weights. Bake for 20 minutes, remove the weights, and bake for another 7 to 10 minutes. If bubbles form in the crust during baking, press them down with a fork. Do not prick them or you could create holes in your crust.

Remove the tart from the oven and let cool completely.

Take the cans of coconut milk out of the fridge and turn them upside down. Open the can (you will be opening the bottom, technically). There will be a milky white liquid at the top. Pour this into a separate bowl. Whats left will be a thick white solid. Scoop that out into a mixing bowl or a stand mixer. Do this with a second can. Whip the coconut milk as you would heavy cream, being careful not to overmix. Once it has thickened up, add the sugar and vanilla extract. Beat for another minute to incorporate everything. 

Spread the whipped coconut milk over the tart, creating an even layer. You might want to drain off some of the juices in the bowl of strawberries. Arrange your strawberry slices however you wish over the coconut milk. Refrigerate for 30 minutes and serve cold. 

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