It’s not too often that I’m invited to a Pie Party, so I baked these tiny Buko Pies – Coconut Custard Tarts. The invitees were the best food writers, chefs, food bloggers in the tri-state. Even better, it was going to be at the new campus of the Institute of Culinary Education (ICE) in New York City.
Pie Party hosts Jackie Gordon and Ken Leung asked us to each bake a pie for the party. I baked two pies. Both were distinctly Asian fusion and Filipino in flavor but were universally appealing.
Have you ever wondered when pies were first baked? My search for pie history brought me to good friend and cookbook author Nancie McDermott who was a great resource via her cookbook: “Apple pies may be the quintessential all-American dessert, but like so many sources of national pride and joy, it really is a Southern pie.”
“Trace pies back to colonial-era Southern kitchens and you will find yourself transported across the Atlantic Ocean to England, which the first successful colonies called ‘home’. The earliest references to pie (or “pye”) date to thirteenth-century Britain. While such “pyes” tended to be hearty and savory- a main meal rather than a dessert- by 1400s, sweet pastries and fruit pies were coming into their own,” affirmed Ms. McDermott in her “Southern Pies” cookbook.
But back to the pies I baked. The first was adapted from the classic Buko Pie, a Filipino favorite. ‘Buko’ is Pilipino which translates to ‘coconut’. I baked a Buko Pie in a past blog post inspired by a recipe from the “Memories of Philippine Kitchens” by Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan.
For the Pie Party, I transformed the Buko Pie to tiny tarts with a single pie crust measuring two-inches in diameter, filled with a luscious coconut-custard filling on a buttery crust. When the tarts came out of the oven, the butter-luscious aroma combined with the sweet coconut flavors were intoxicating–we nearly ate them all up before heading to the city. At the Pie Party buffet, these tiny coconut tarts were gone in an instant when I went to pile some pie on my plate.
My second pie was a Blueberry-Purple Yam (Ube) Tart. It was a heavenly combination of Jersey’s plump blueberries, sweetened with a citrusy syrup, atop a thick spread of homemade purple yam (ube) jam, all encased in a flakey, butter-rich pastry crust. This was also inspired by a recipe from the same cookbook and featured in a past blog post.
Parties are fun when friends are there. We had the best time seeing old and new friends. Best of all, it was a chance to say ‘thank you’ to the brands who sponsored the event and gave us generous gifts. Go check out Jackie Gordon’s DivaThatAteNY.com site for a complete list of kind sponsors and the ‘parade of pies’ that came to the Pie Party.
I love what cookbook author, good friend Nancie McDermott said about pies in her cookbook “You don’t have to be Southern to love these pies or to get back in the kitchen and make them. Anyone from anywhere can learn how to do it.” From its Southern origins, I baked two Asian -Filipino pies and had a great time over the best pies. And that is what is wonderful about food — it brings us all together.
Buko Pies- Coconut Custard Tarts
- 2 cups for pie pastry crust; divide the recipe use a single pastry for the coconut-custard tarts; the second pie crust for Blueberry-Purple Yam Tart all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon for pie pastry crust salt
- 1/2 cup very cold, straight from the refrigerator, cut into small cubes; for pastry crust butter (unsalted)
- 4 to 6 Tablespoons for pie pastry ice water
- 1 teaspoon for pie pastry white vinegar
- 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/3 cup coconut milk canned
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 8 from large eggs egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup from Asian-Filipino markets or groceries; or online sources sweet macapuno-coconut sport strings (bottled)
- How to make the Sandra Gutierrez double butter piecrust: I used the food processor and mixed the flour and salt in the work bowl. Pulse this dry mixture for 10 seconds. Then add the cubes of chilled butter. Process again till mixture looks coarse with small lumps. This takes about 30 to 40 seconds. Add 3 tablespoons of the ice cold water and the vinegar. Pulse 5 to 7 times. The dough will start looking smooth. Add 1-2 tablespoons or iced water if needed to make the dough stay together. Place the pastry on plastic wrap and seal well. Store in the refrigerator for at least one hour till ready to use. (*Note: if you don't own a food processor, you can do this pastry dough by hand in a large mixing bowl using a pastry blender or else two table knives to mix the butter into the flour).
- On a floured surface, roll out the chilled dough with a rolling pin. Roll out dough between two pieces of parchment or wax paper.
- Grease small non-stick tart pans, about 2-inches in diameter. Cut round pastry pieces, using a cookie cutter (or the tart pan itself) around 4-inches in diameter to fit into the tart pan. Press the pastry crust well at the bottom and sides of tart pan. Place these tart pans in a shallow baking tray. Set aside in the refrigerator while you prepare the coconut-custard filling.
- For the coconut-custard filling: using a whisk mix together in a bowl the sugar, cornstarch, baking powder and salt. Mix in the milk, coconut milk, heavy cream, yolks and vanilla. Using a spoon, add the sweet macapuno (coconut sport) strings to the cream mixture. Blend well.
- Pour the coconut-custard mix into the tart pans lined with pastry. Fill the tart pan leaving about 1/8 inch space on top.
- Bake coconut tarts in a preheated oven of 375 F for 25 to 30 minutes. Test the middle of the tart by piercing it with the tip of a sharp knife. If knife comes clean, tarts are done.
- Remove tarts from the oven. Let them cool on the counter for about 10 minutes. When tarts are no longer too hot to handle, loosen the sides of the pastry crust with a slim, sharp knife. Cool the tarts on a baking rack for about 35 minutes. Serve tarts warm.
- Cook's comments: the coconut I used are bottled sweet Macapuno-Coconut Sport which are in a syrup. They can be found in Asian or Filipino groceries here in the USA; or online sources of Asian-Filipino ingredients and Amazon.
- ShopForIt: for my readers' convenience my Amazon affiliate page "Shop For It" is on this blog. Click here to find bottled Macapuno strings, the tiny non-stick tart pans and other baking tools. The price stays the same for purchasers; I earn a small commission from Amazon which helps pay for the recipe ingredients of the blog. Thanks for your support.
- THANK YOU to the friends and sponsors who made #PiePartyICE possible: Institute of Culinary Education (ICE), WUSTHOF, Anolon, Cabot Creamery, King Arthur Flour, Dub Pies, Tovolo, Honey Ridge Farms, Wild Hibiscus Co., and the cocktail sponsors: Reyka Vodka, Trombo Tequila, Mizu Shochu. Check out organizer Jackie Gordon's site "Diva That Ate NY" for the complete list.
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