Make the dough:
Sift the flour, sugar, and salt together in a medium-size to large bowl. Using a pastry blender, a big serving fork, or the tips of your fingers, cut in or pinch or squeeze the shortening until the mixture resembles a bowl of sweet peas. Tossing the mixture quickly and lightly with a fork, sprinkle in the cream or milk 1 tablespoon at a time. (It's better to err on the side of not having enough liquid than to have too much; you don't want a soupy crust.) Continue tossing until the dough holds together when lightly pressed.
With lightly floured hands, loosely gather up the dough into a flat ball, place it in a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until you are ready to roll out the crust. I try to chill at least 30 minutes but not too much longer than overnight.
Fill and bake the tarts:
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a medium-size bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until light and creamy. Beat in the egg, milk, and banana until smooth. Stir in 1 cup of the coconut.
On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough until 1/8 inch thick. Cut the dough into 12 circles about 1 inch larger than the mini tart pans you will be using (or you can use a muffin tin). Line the pans or tins with the circles of dough and trim the edges even with the top of the pan.
Spoon the filling into the shells and bake until the tarts are a light toasty brown, about 20 minutes. Start checking for doneness after 10 minutes. During the last 5 minutes of baking time, sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup coconut on a cookie sheet, put it in the oven with the tarts, and let brown, watching so it doesn’t burn. When the coconut is toasted, about 5 minutes, take it out of the oven. Take the tarts out of the oven and sprinkle the coconut on top of each one. Let cool completely on a wire rack before serving.
Photo: Alexandra Grablewski