09 August 2017

Bake Pandan Coconut Cheese Tart

Happy 52nd Birthday Singapore!

Last Saturday, I was invited to attend a Drool Potluck Tea Party organised by Drool Cook Club in collaboration with Singapore Home Cooks. It was an eye-opening networking event as some 30 home-cooks gathered to present 30 different variety of savoury and sweet canapes! I was in awe and really impressed by the canapes showcased, both in terms of taste and presentation. But most importantly, finally got to meet "new" friends whom I've been chatting with at SHC FB group and of course happy to catch up with the old" friends whom I've not met for a while =D

My contribution is mini version of Bake Pandan Coconut Cheese Tart, a twist to my Bake Cheese Tart infused with local flavours of pandan and coconut milk, created in celebration of Singapore's National Day 2017! Initially I was thinking of sticking to the original Bake Cheese Tart, but since I've already tried a Thai Milk Tea version, I might as well challenge myself to come up with a local flavour :) And surprisingly, pandan and coconut work quite well with cheese!

Since I've already made hundreds and hundreds of tarts by now, making them is not difficult, the only challenge is balancing the 3 flavours of pandan, coconut and cheese so that each stands out on its own yet complement each other.

Had to prepare a few days in advance before attempting the tart itself as I prefer making my own pandan extract instead of purchasing commercial ones.

The tart pastry is pretty straightforward, simply add pandan extract instead of fresh milk and vanilla extract, so I get this lovely aroma of pandan in the tart pastry itself. Maybe next time I should add a bit of coconut milk too. *KIV for next time.

As for the cheese filling, initially tested 2 small batches, 1 using only pandan extract and 1 using pandan extract with coconut milk. For the cheese, cream cheese is a must and I added mascarpone cheese since it has a creamy texture and yet very light. After seeking opinions from my home-tasters aka the HB and kiddo, the conclusion is the version with coconut milk stands out more in terms of overall taste.

However, the HB commented that the pandan taste seemed to be overpowered by the coconut and cheese. Had wanted to do another test-bake before the actual day but I was simply too busy and hence did the best I could on the morning itself.

So when I was cooking the custard, I had to add the pandan extract teaspoon by teaspoon to make sure that the flavour is distinct enough. In the end added quite a lot, probably because homemade extract is milder as compared to commercial paste.

Anyways, I love how these little gems turned out; the petite size makes it look cute and easy to eat and the colour is a lovely shade of green.

During the event itself, there's actually a voting contest by all the participants for their favourite canapes, and I was over the moon to be one of the top 6 winners and won myself a cutlery set sponsored by De Dietrich (who is the venue sponsor as well)! Woohoo! Also elated to hear positive feedback about this new flavour =D When I was going around soliciting for feedback, dear friend Alan of Travelling Foodies mentioned that the aftertaste of cheese was a little sharp and suggested that I cut down on the cream cheese further.
So I made another batch, adjusting the proportion of cream cheese and mascarpone cheese, and the overall flavour turned out slightly smoother. But those who like the cheese taste may think otherwise. Anyways, I have made a note in my recipe below, feel free to adjust the proportions according to your liking.

I have also put together 4 short video clips of the process (trimmed so that they are not too draggy). This is my first time taking videos so pardon me if they are not well filmed and cut :p

Video 1 - Making the tart pastry and rolling it out.


Video 2 - Stamping the pastry and moulding the pastry into the tart case.

Video 3 - Cooking the pandan coconut cheese custard, sifting and filling into piping bag.

Video 4 - Piping the custard into the tart pastry (already baked once), smoothen with spatula and brush with egg wash.

Bake Pandan Coconut Cheese Tart
(makes 20 petite size tarts, using 5cm round cutter/2.5cm base tart case)


(A) Tart pastry
  • 120g plain flour
  • 10g caster sugar
  • 60g salted butter, cut into cubes, cold
  • 4-6 tsp homemade pandan extract (note 1)

(B) Pandan coconut cheese custard
  • 75g coconut milk
  • 75g fresh milk
  • 25g cream cheese (note 2)
  • 45g mascarpone cheese (note 2)
  • 40g salted butter
  • 30g caster sugar 
  • 10g corn starch
  • 1 egg (about 50-55g nett weight)
  • 40-50ml homemade pandan extract (note 3)
  • Egg wash for brushing sides of tart pastry 

(A) Tart pastry
  1. Sift plain flour into a large bowl, add caster sugar and mix well.
  2. Add cold salted butter cubes. Using finger tips, break the butter and rub the butter into the flour mixture, until it resembles bread crumbs.
  3. Add 4-6 tsp of pandan extract to the mixture, use a scrapper to help with the mixing.
  4. The mixture will come together and thereafter, use hands to form the mixture into a dough.
  5. Knead the dough gently into a ball. Place the dough between 2 pieces of plastic sheet.
  6. Roll the dough to about 3mm thickness and place in fridge to rest for about 1 hour.

(B) Pandan coconut cheese custard
  1. Add coconut milk, fresh milk, cream cheese, mascarpone cheese, salted butter and caster sugar into a small pot.
  2. Place the pot into a large, shallow pan/pot with barely simmering water. This is the bain marie method, to create a gentle and uniform heat for cooking custard. Keep stirring the mixture till everything is melted.
  3. Add pandan extract teaspoon by teaspoon (to personal taste and preference) and mix till well blended.
  4. Add sifted corn starch. Mix till well-blended, the mixture will thicken slowly.
  5. Add the egg and keep stirring till well-blended, the mixture will further thicken into custard. Stop cooking once the desired thickness of custard is reached (shorter cooking time - runny texture, longer cooking time - gooey texture)
  6. Sift the custard for a smoother texture (as they may be some fine lumps and grainy bits in the custard).
  7. At this point, may add additional pandan extract if taste is not strong enough or custard is too thick.
  8. Cover the custard with a clingwrap on the surface and let the custard cool down completely. 
  9. Fill the custard into a piping bag. Set aside.

(C) Assembly
  1. Remove the dough from fridge. Dust a baking mat (and rolling pin) with flour, use the round cutter to stamp the dough.
  2. Use a metal scrapper (dust with flour) to lift up the cut dough.
  3. Place the cut dough over the tart case and gently press it downwards.
  4. Using finger tips, gently press and mold the dough into the tart case. Use a fork to poke holes at the base of the tart pastry.
  5. Bake the tarts at 180C, fan mode for 10mins. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool.
  6. After the tart cases are cooled slightly, remove them from the tins and let cool completely before use.
  7. Preheat oven to 235C conventional mode. 
  8. Pipe the pandan coconut cheese custard into the tart pastry, shape slightly domed. Use a spatula to smoothen the top if necessary. Brush the sides of the tart pastry evenly with egg wash.
  9. Bake the tarts at 235C conventional mode, for 6-7 mins.
  10. Once baked, remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool. Best eaten warm, freshly baked.

Note 1: homemade pandan extract may taste milder than commercial pastes, pls adjust according to taste.
Note 2: for those who prefer a strong cheese taste, use equal proportion of cream cheese and mascarpone cheese i.e. 35g each
Note 3: homemade pandan extract may taste milder than commercial pastes, pls adjust according to taste.

Like I mentioned earlier, super love these petite little gems, I can easily pop one whole piece into the mouth or ok, maybe 2 bites.

The tart crust is crunchy and not too sweet (have reduced sugar for this version so that the custard can stand out more). The custard has this lovely aroma of pandan along with the lemak coconut, and texture-wise  creamy and gooey. In terms of taste, the pandan comes first, follow by coconut and finally a cheesy after taste.

Dedicating this Pandan Coconut Cheese Tart to Singapore!

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