Coconut Turnovers

Last month I gave you a little sneak peek of a travel assignment I was working on.  Sea Cuisine has been featuring recipes and flavors inspired by travel and my husband I got the super rough assignment of exploring the beautiful island of Anguilla, and a little bit of St. Maarten as well.

It was a fabulous adventure, and the work I did for Sea Cuisine will be featured all next week on The Seafood Spot, so keep your eye out for that.  Kate and I have a fun week of Caribbean inspired recipes to get you in the mood!

One of the things I was most surprised by, is the European influence on the islands.  That shouldn’t be a surprise, seeing as Anguilla is an overseas British Territory and St. Maarten is owned by the French and the Dutch, but I absolutely loved the combination of European life and Caribbean life, and the strong influences in the food as well.  My favorite part?  The fact that these gorgeous tropical islands are dotted with traditional French bakeries- pretty much my dream world.

When we drove past our first pastry shop we wondered if a French bakery on a tropical island would have my favorite Hawaiian treat: Coconut Turnovers.  Sure enough.  Buttery, flaky dough filled with soft coconut filling.  I’m pretty sure I moaned when I took my first bite and vowed to recreate it when we got home.

Puff pastry dough is something I always keep in my freezer.  It’s an incredibly versatile ingredient in both sweet and savory dishes, and I figured it would be the easiest way to create a knock-off of this island favorite.

Thaw out the puff pastry dough according to package directions.  Lay it out on a lightly floured surface and roll it out a little.  You should have a square about 12×12 inches.  Cut it into 4 equal squares (these are for large turnovers, you can certainly make smaller ones if you like).

The filling isn’t complicated.  It’s mostly sweetened shredded coconut.  For the binder, I used cream of coconut.

We use cream of coconut in a lot of our recipes, so it shouldn’t be too foreign by now!  Don’t confuse it with coconut milk.  Cream of coconut is thick and sweet with strong coconut flavor.  You find it in the alcohol section of the grocery store (it doesn’t contain alcohol, though.)  It will be either in a can or squeeze bottle near the mixers like pina cola and bloody mary mix.  This recipe doesn’t use a whole lot of it, but don’t let that stop you from buying it, we have plenty of things to make with the leftovers!


I also add a little coconut extract for good flavor.

Divide the mixture evenly between your pastry squares.  Place it on just one half and spread it out to the corners a bit, keeping it about 1/2 inch away from all edges.

Dip your finger in water and run it along the edges of the pastry and then fold them in half and gently press the edges together.  Use a fork to crimp, and also to poke once on top of each turnover.

Pop them in the oven for 15-20 minutes or so, until they’re puffed and golden and then place them on a cooling rack to cool and stir up your glaze ingredients.

I put coconut extract as ‘optional’ in the glaze.  You really only want a teeny bit in there, or the alcohol flavor in the extract will be a little too strong, so just don’t be too heavy handed with it.  When the turnovers are just barely warm, not hot, drizzle the glaze over them. I like to let them cool to at least room temperature before eating.

The outsides are flaky and buttery and you get the sweet bite from the glaze.  Inside the flaky layers of pastry is that creamy, flavorful coconut tucked away like a tropical surprise.

These would be perfect for a tropical themed brunch or baby shower meal.  You could serve them up fresh pineapple, mango, and kiwi, a pan of Croissant French Toast or Coconut Banana Bread with Lime Glaze, and a big pitcher of Mango Coladas or Sunrise Punch.  If you need a little savory in there, try our Steak and Mango Salad, or our Teriyaki Chicken Salad.



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Meet The Author

Sara Wells

Sara Wells co-founded Our Best Bites in 2008. She is the author of three Bestselling Cook Books, Best Bites: 150 Family Favorite RecipesSavoring the Seasons with Our Best Bites, and 400 Calories or Less from Our Best Bites. Sara’s work has been featured in many local and national news outlets and publications such as Parenting MagazineBetter Homes & GardensFine CookingThe Rachel Ray Show and the New York Times.

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Questions & Reviews

  1. Hi, sometimes the texture of coconut is distracting to me in desserts. I know, a bit strange. If I whirled the coconut in a food processor before adding the cream of coconut, would that change anything significantly?

  2. I am from Hawaii and have been looking for a recipe for coconut turnover forever!!!! Thank you 🙂

  3. Can we trade lives for a day? LOL! I could sure use a ‘working’ vacation! : )

  4. I’m just made these! I decided to do half of them with a little lime zest & juice. Thanks for the simple recipe! Delicious!

  5. We were just in St. John and had the best coconut tart- cooked by vie….in a little hut on the side of the road…divine.
    pinning this to make later.
    Thanks for sharing

  6. wow, what a gorgeous setting! and those turnovers look delicious! thanks for sharing!

  7. Oh Sara! Did you get to check out Serafina’s on St. Maarten? Oh my goodness! These look great, too. Must try them.

  8. Stop it! I’m hungry again! No – don’t stop!!!! Just let me step into your life for awhile. Gosh – I could even smell them baking! YUM!

  9. oops, NEVER MIND! Just saw why! Thanks! (I like to make sure the poster of the recipe has given permission for “pinning.”)

  10. I am missing the “Pin It” button!?
    Cannot wait to make these with my boys. They LOVE coconut!

  11. I was gifted with four pints of pie cherries this morning and came looking for a turnover recipe for them. How funny that you posted the exact recipe I needed! (Ok, not exactly, but I can adapt it.) One question, can I freeze extra turnovers? How would ypu suggest they be reheated?

    1. Yep, this is exactly how I make cherry turnovers too. But I toss the cherries in just a bit of flour and a pinch of sugar and a little almond extract. You could probably freeze them (although I never have, after baking). I’d reheat in a 400 degree oven.

  12. Yummmmmm. My husband served his mission down there, French speaking – so he’s introduced me to as much as possible or available here in the states. I saw your plate of pastries and my mouth started watering for Pain au Chocolat! I can’t wait to try these 🙂

  13. ok now I am craving these and I may have to mix in some chocolate chips with the filling.

    1. You can find it in the freezer section of the grocery store. Pepperidge Farms is the most common brand.

  14. Could I use vanilla instead of coconut extract? If not, what would you recommend as a substitution.

    1. You certainly could, but you lose out on the coconut flavor. If you don’t want to use coconut extract, you could really just leave out extract all together.

  15. I can’t believe I’ve never thought of these before!! Best turnover flavor ever!!!!!

    1. Natalie, I didn’t put the pin button in the post because it’s been causing problems for people using Outlook- but you don’t need an in-post button to pin! Just drag and drop a pin button into your browser and you can “pin” anything from any website you want. Get it here:

  16. The process of making “Coconut turnovers” seems to me very easy and definitely I will try it to make in my home today. And you know Sara these pieces of shredded coconut make my so hungry to touch it at least. 😥 :envy: Thanks for this allocation. 😆