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Coconut CrunchThe Spicy Honey has an office BBQ and thought it would be a good idea for The Goddess to “whip up” dessert.  He’s thoughtful that way.  But, The Goddess doesn’t mind, because dessert is good, and this is particularly good.  It’s rich, creamy and just delicious, so isn’t that just the perfect thing to have at a BBQ?  My sister has made this for years.  It’s delicious and one of my favorite desserts, though I haven’t made it in years.  It isn’t really difficult to make, it’s just a matter of time.  It does take a bit of time.  The custard-y filling is delicious, by itself, as a simple pudding, served with whipped cream, of course!  The good news?  And there is always some good news…the various parts can be made the day before, stored separately and then assembled a couple of hours before serving.

For the custard, I now use coconut milk as part of the liquid, but that’s not part of the original recipe.  Nor is the white chocolate, but I think it adds an interesting bit of flavor.

The “crunch” goes together more or less like pie pastry does.

Flour, coconut, salt and brown sugar are combined.  Then the cold butter is cut into it, until you have pea-sized pieces, blah, blah, blah…you know the drill.  You spread it evenly on a cookie sheet, pop it into a preheated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes,

stirring it around as the edges brown…you need to do this three or four times.  This mixture can burn pretty easily, so keep and eye on it.  When it’s toasty brown, cool it completely.  Put it into a food storage bag, and leave it at room temperature for up to 48 hours or freeze it for up to 2 months.  I have stored it for 6 months, but it does lose some flavor.  It won’t kill you though!  Which of course, is a good thing…The filling is a “cornstarch pudding”.

You combine the cornstarch, sugar and salt in a heavy saucepan.  Slowly pour in the coconut milk, whole milk and heavy cream, whisking like a crazy person so lumps don’t form, until you’ve added it all.  Set the pot over medium-low heat and whisk frequently (if not constantly) until the mixture comes to the boil.  Coconut CrunchBoil for 1 minute, whisking constantly.  This will be very thick.  Remove the pot from the heat and now this is where the recipe deviates from conventional wisdom.  Coconut CrunchCoconut CrunchCoconut CrunchI don’t temper the egg yolks in the traditional manner.  I whisk the yolks with milk until they are completely blended and are one with each other.  Then, I slowly pour the egg yolk mixture into the hot mixture, but you must whisk like crazy as you do this.  I’ve never, ever had the eggs curdle.  Coconut CrunchThen, I place the pan back on the burner, over low heat, and cook, whisking until there a just a couple of bubbles that pop up.

Whisk in the rum, simmer for 30 seconds.  Then pull pan off the heat, add the chocolate, butter and vanilla extract and give it a stir.  You want that butter and white chocolate to get into that hot mixture so it will melt.  I leave it for about a minutes, then whisk it up until it’s smooth.  Coconut CrunchPour the mixture into a bowl, slap a piece of plastic wrap directly on the pudding, to prevent a skin from forming.  Let cool until it’s on lukewarm, then into the fridge to chill.  The filling can be made up to 24 hours ahead.   When you’re ready to assemble the dessert, just before you start,

whip the cream with the powdered (icing) sugar until stiff peaks form and set that aside.  To assemble:

Sprinkle about 2/3 of the crunch mixture evenly over the bottom of the dish…a deep, rectangular/square/round dish works better than a bowl.  Pour the filling/custard gently over the crunch.  You don’t want to dislodge the crunch mixture.  Smooth the top.

Spread the whipped cream over the custard; smooth the top.  Sprinkle the remaining crunch mixture over; cover and chill for at 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.  Coconut CrunchWhen you serve, make certain you go all the way to the bottom, so you get all that good crunchy stuff.  It can be cut into squares, but it’s really nice just scooped out.  Then, enjoy!

Just to be clear, I made a double batch, because I was serving a crowd.  But I’ve given you the amounts to serve 6-8 people.

Coconut CrunchThere was just a small smackerel left over…enough to make a small bowl to leave at home!  I love to share, but….

Coconut Crunch

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: Moderate
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This isn’t a complicated recipe, but it does take a bit of time.  However, the various components can be made ahead and store separately.

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 15-ounce can coconut milk
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 ounces white chocolate (optional, but why not?)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, sliced into 6 pieces
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract or paste (I use vanilla paste)
  • 1 cups heavy cream, whipped to stiff peaks
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup cold butter, cubed

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Crunch:  Place the coconut, flour and brown sugar in a bowl.  Stir until combined.  Drop the cubed butter on the mixture.  Work the butter into the flour mixture, as you would for pie crust.  Dump the mixture out onto a cookie sheet and spread evenly.  Place the pan in the oven, back for about 12-15 minutes, stirring several times.  I usually use a spatula to turn the mixture onto itself, then chopping it up and redistribute it evenly.  Return the pan to the oven.  Repeat this process at least 2-3 more times.  Watch carefully, as the mixture burns easily.  When thoroughly browned, remove the pan from the oven; set aside to cool completely.  You may double this, store in a freezer bag in the freezer.  Will keep for at least 2 months.

For the Custard:  In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt.  Whisk it until combined thoroughly.  Slowly add the coconut milk, whole milk and heavy cream, whisking constantly (this will prevent lumps).  Place over medium-low heat.  Whisking constantly, cook until the mixture begins to barely simmer.  While the mixture is cooking, place the egg yolks and the 1/4 cup milk in a small bowl.  Whisk until the mixture is completely mixed; set aside.  Remove the pan from the heat.  Whisking constantly, slowly pour the egg/milk mixture into the hot mixture; whisk for 1 minute.  Return the pan to the heat, continue to cook until the mixture almost returns to the boil, about 2-3 minutes. Make certain you are reaching all over the bottom of the pan, to prevent sticking.  The mixture will coat the back of a spoon.

Remove from the heat; add the butter, white chocolate, if using and vanilla.  Let set until the butter is melted.  Whisk together until thoroughly combined.  Pour into a medium glass bowl or glass measuring cup.  Immediately press a small piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding, to prevent a skin from forming.  Let cool; then chill for at least 2 hours.

When ready to assemble, place a thick layer of the crunch evenly over the bottom of a serving dish.  Spoon the cooled custard over the crunch, smoothing the mixture.  Return to the fridge.  Whip the cream with the powdered sugar, until stiff-ish peaks form.  Gently and carefully spread over the custard.  Sprinkle with the remaining crunch topping.  Chill.  Serve, by spooning the mixture out into dishes.  Enjoy!

NOTE:  If you feel the custard my have lumps, pour the hot pudding through a single mesh strainer.  You may substitute whole milk for the coconut milk.  You may make the custard and the crunch topping the day before; store separately.  The crunch topping can be frozen for up to 3 months.  The finished dish can be assembled at least 2 hours before serving.

Coconut Crunch Recipe©Marcia Lahens 2018.  All rights reserved.

Truth be told, I have made this using the packaged puddings.  The cooked type, not the instant type.  And if I’m to be completely honest, it’s pretty good.  But the real-deal is just much better.  My sister’s recipe used one of the dry whipped toppings, but I’ve never use that…it’s real-deal whipped cream, always!