Coconut Cream Grapefruit Tartlets with Black Sesame Crust

Most people never say no to sugar and if you do, you will certainly change your tune after you try this delicious dessert that Betty Liu of Le Jus d'Orange came up with for our In the Kitchen series. These coconut cream and grapefruit tartlets are the key to all your problems and most certainly will have your guests leaving your house full, happy, and in a sugar-induced coma. Who doesn't want that? 

As we approach the tail end of winter and the highs soar up to mid 30s, I cannot help but collect as much citrus as I can to celebrate the oncoming spring. There’s something refreshing about citrus in the winter – the bright, tart taste of freshly squeezed orange juice will energize me for the rest of the day, the beautiful natural ombre of a blood orange makes me want to preserve the slices and resist gobbling them down in one bite, the delicate pink flesh of a grapefruit beckons me to top it with some brown sugar and stick in the broiler. Citrus can be used in so many different ways, and it can be a great finish to a dinner party.

These coconut cream grapefruit tartlets provide a perfect balance of sweet and tart and are housed in a black sesame pastry crust. When it comes to pies or tarts, I love going to mini route to make individual portions. There’s less mess, and there’s just something so special and indulgent about having a small tartlet all to yourself. These tartlets do take preparation, so plan ahead. I find it easiest to make the grapefruit curd the night before to allow the curd to set. Fill the tartlets right before you serve. Whipped coconut milk can re-harden if it’s in the fridge for too long, so it is best to serve the day-of. This recipe does make more curd than needed. You can halve the recipe, or you can save the leftover to top yogurt, cake, or other desserts.

Coconut Cream Grapefruit Tartlets with Black Sesame Crust
makes 6 individual tartlets

Grapefruit Curd
make the night before

  • 1 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice (1.5 grapefruits)
  • 2 tbsp grated grapefruit zest
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1 inch cubes.
  1. In a glass bowl, whisk sugar and eggs together. Stir in juice, honey, and zest and whisk until well incorporated.
  2. Set bowl above a saucepan filled with water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water surface. Cook on medium heat, whisking constantly.
  3. Cook until mixture begins to thicken. It should reach about 185F on an instant thermometer. The mixture will thicken and coat the back of a wooden spoon, enough so that a line drawn down the middle will stay visible.
  4. Remove from heat. Let mixture cool on a wire rack, whisking occasionally to let out heat, until mixture reaches about 140F. Using an immersion blender, add in butter, a couple of cubes at a time. Alternatively, you can whisk by hand, but it may take a longer time.
  5. Let curd cool to room temperature. Press a plastic wrap on the surface and over the bowl. Place in fridge to chill overnight.

Black Sesame Tart Pastry

  • 1¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup powdered sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1.5 tbsp heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp ground black sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 stick butter (4 oz), cold and cut into cubes.
  1. Place cubed butter in the freezer as you prep other ingredients.
  2. Whisk together yolk, heavy cream, and vanilla. Set aside.
  3. Sift together flour, sugar, salt, and black sesame. Set aside.
  4. Using a food processor, place butter into flour mixture and mix until it resembles a coarse meal.
  5. With the processor running, stream in cream mixture and pulse until dough just starts to come together (about 10 seconds). Turn machine off, and turn dough onto a piece of plastic wrap to form a disk. Wrap and chill for at least one hour.
  6. Remove dough from fridge. Gently grease tartlet pans. Unwrap and turn onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into six sections. Roll each section to about 1/8 inch thick. Press into tartlet pans and trim the edges. Prick all over with a fork. Place in fridge for another 30 minutes. 
  7. Preheat oven to 375F.
  8. Cover tartlet pans with foil (be sure to cover edges), and fill with pie weights.
  9. Bake for 25 minutes, rotating halfway through. Remove from oven and proceed to remove foil and weights. Bake for another 5-8 minutes, until golden brown. Cool completely to room temperature before filling. 

Whipped Coconut Cream

  • 1 can coconut milk, chilled overnight
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2.5 tbsp honey or powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Invert coconut milk can and remove liquid (reserve for other use, such as smoothies).
  2. In a cold mixing bowl of a stand mixer, add heavy cream and coconut milk. Beat on high speed until soft peaks form. Add in honey and vanilla and beat until well incorporated.

Toasted Shredded Coconut

  • 1 cup shredded coconut

On a large, flat skillet, spread shredded coconut. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until shredded coconut is light brown.


Remove tartlet crusts from tartlet pan. Spoon curd into tart bases until it reaches half the crust. Pipe or spoon cream on top. Top with toasted shredded coconut. Store in fridge and serve day-of. 

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