Lemon-Coconut Tart with Brown-Sugar Cream


Karen Barker, the pastry chef at Magnolia Grill in Durham, North Carolina, makes a lemon pie that delivers more than sweetness and fluff. Her smooth lemon filling is decidedly tart, offset by pillows of brown-sugar whipped cream and a slightly crunchy and chewy coconut crust. Barker advises seeking out frozen shredded coconut, but Baker's Angel Flake coconut (sold in plastic bags on the supermarket shelf) will do in a pinch. Barker recommends stirring the cream of coconut before adding it to the filling.Plus: More Dessert Recipes and Tips

Lemon-Coconut Tart with Brown-Sugar Cream
Photo: © Hector Sanchez
Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
4 hrs
1 9-inch pie



  • 1 1/3 cups crushed graham cracker crumbs (10 squares)

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sweetened shredded coconut

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


  • 4 large egg yolks

  • One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

  • 1/2 cup cream of coconut, such as Coco Lopez

Topping and accompaniments

  • 2/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut

  • 2 pints strawberries, hulled and sliced

  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar

  • 1 1/2 cups cold heavy cream


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly butter a 9-inch glass pie plate. In a medium bowl, mix the graham cracker crumbs, coconut and sugar with the butter until evenly moistened. Press the crumbs over the bottom and up the side of the pie plate in an even layer. Bake in the center of the oven for 8 minutes, or until lightly golden and barely set.

  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sweetened condensed milk, lemon zest, vanilla, cream of tartar and salt. Slowly whisk in the lemon juice and cream of coconut until smooth. Pour the filling into the crust and bake for 20 minutes, or until the filling is just set but still slightly jiggly in the center. Transfer the tart to a wire rack to cool, then refrigerate until chilled, about 3 hours.

  3. Spread 1/3 cup of the shredded coconut on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for about 3 minutes, or until it is golden. Transfer the toasted coconut to a plate and stir in the remaining 1/3 cup of coconut.

  4. Just before serving, in a medium bowl, toss the strawberries with 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar and let stand until juicy, about 10 minutes. In a large bowl, whip the heavy cream with the remaining 2 tablespoons of brown sugar until firm. Spread some of the whipped cream over the tart and sprinkle the coconut on top. Serve the tart with the strawberries and the remaining whipped cream.

Make Ahead

The lemon-coconut tart can be prepared through Step 2 up to 3 days ahead.

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