Hello dear readers,
In a couple of hours I’ll be boarding a plane to fly back to the US, so I’ll be ringing in the new year at home. It’s been a great two weeks in Vietnam and Hong Kong, filled with family and, as always, a surfeit of good food. Below is one of my favorite photos I took during my trip, on a bus ride rounding the Hong Kong harbor – one of the prettiest views in the world, in my quite-biased opinion:
I didn’t get to bake while I was in Hong Kong (although I ate way more egg custard tarts than was probably good for my cholesterol), so for my last post of 2011 I thought I’d post a chocolate tart I made for a holiday party a few weeks back. We actually had back-to-back potluck parties one weekends, and the hubby generously offered to help bake, although he warned that he didn’t want to have to roll any dough out because “it’s too hard.” Hey, I have a 2012 resolution for you!
Because I didn’t want to scare away my kitchen help, I came up with a tart that used a crushed chocolate cookie crust – the easiest homemade crust possible. Ok, I didn’t want to be make things that easy; I baked the chocolate cookies and then crumbled them up in the food processor. It adds a little more time and effort to the recipe, but I think it’s worth it, and for some reason guys seem to get a kick out of pulverizing things to tiny bits in a food processor.
Pressing crushed cookies into a tart tin also gives you the opportunity to use the wonderful dough tamper, which Rick Rodgers rhapsodized about. I also like using this little tool when I’m blind baking any tart crusts, to push down any dough that might have puffed up; oftentimes, I don’t even bother with using pie weights and just tamp down any puffy spots. Works a charm.
To make the tart holiday-worthy I filled with a layer of white chocolate peppermint cream, and topped it with a dark chocolate ganache – can’t get any easier, right? The white chocolate filling is meant to be soft and just this side of gooey, so keep the tart refrigerated and take it out about 15-20 minutes before you’re ready to serve it. Rich but not too sweet, I like to think of this as the big cousin to Andes mints and peppermint patties. I kind of wish I still had some of this waiting for me when I get home.
Have a wonderful New Year’s, all of you, and the sweetest of wishes for 2012!
Chocolate Cookie Crust (adapted from Serious Eats)
- 7 tablespoons (100 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3/4 cup (170 g) sugar
- 1 cup (140 g) all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup (43 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon (3 g) salt
- 3 tablespoons (43 g) unsalted butter, melted
White Chocolate Mint Filling
- 8 oz (227 g) white chocolate, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup (100 g) heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
- 1 tablespoon (14 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
Dark Chocolate Ganache
- 8 oz (227 g) bittersweet (72%)chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 cup (200 g) heavy cream
- 4 tablespoons (56 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- For the cookie crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or with foil. Set aside an 8 inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom.
- Combine butter and sugar in bowl of stand mixer. Cream for about 3 minutes until light and fluffy.
- Combine the flour, cocoa powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add to stand mixer and beat until combined. Mixture will be loose and crumbly.
- Pour out mixture on prepared baking sheet and spread evenly. Bake for about 20 minutes, rotating halfway. The cookie crumbles will start smelling very fragrant.
- Remove from oven and let cool on wire rack.
- Place cookies into food processor and pulverize into even, fine crumbs. Pour out crumbs into a medium bowl and add the melted butter. Stir with a spoon to combine.
- Press crumb mixture evenly into bottom and up sides of tart pan. Bake tart shell for about 10 minutes in the 350 degree F oven. Remove and let cool before filling.
- For the white chocolate filling: Place white chocolate in a medium bowl.
- Bring cream to a boil on the stove and pour over the white chocolate. Let sit for a minute and stir to fully combine chocolate and cream. If the chocolate does not fully melt, you can place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and stir until combined. Do not leave on too long or the chocolate could burn.
- Add in the peppermint extract and butter and stir until combined.
- Pour mixture into tart shell. Refrigerate for about an hour until set.
- For the dark chocolate filling: Place dark chocolate in a medium bowl.
- Bring cream to a boil on the stove and pour over the chocolate. Let sit for a minute and stir to fully combine chocolate and cream. If the chocolate does not fully melt, you can place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and stir until combined. Do not leave on too long or the chocolate could burn.
- Add in the butter and stir until combined.
- Carefully pour mixture into tart shell over the white chocolate filling. Refrigerate for about an hour until set.