I have fond childhood memories of music parties at our old Victorian house. My dad played in a band that would rehearse in our backyard, we had jams and house concerts by touring folk musicians in the living room, and once even had a contra dance in the old grocery store-turned-photography studio behind our house. As my brother and I got older and we all got busier, and eventually moved into a smaller home, those events became more infrequent. Recently, though, we've been making efforts to reinvigorate that tradition, and for the second year in a row, when I've come home for the holidays, we've had a music party.
So yesterday we busied ourselves in the little kitchen, cooking and stirring, whisking and slicing in preparation. My parents decided to make spiced beef, cooked overnight in a large crock, for chalupa, and we had chips and salsa, veggie and cheese plates, homemade pimento cheese and crackers, and other little treats for a fine spread. For dessert, I wanted to make something special, festive, and new. I'd been seeing lots of recipes for homemade peppermint patties (from Ashley English and Serious Eats and such), and thought the mint filling, topped with a chocolate ganache might just be the perfect thing for a Christmas tart.
I somehow got this notion when I was younger that peppermint patties were a treat for adults, possibly because, like avocados, my parents wanted to reserve them for themselves. I'm not sure if this tart is more grown 'n' decadent, or youthfully playful, but if you put in a little nip of peppermint schnapps like I did, you can tip that scale a little towards the former. Though optional, I decked the tart with bits of candy cane. It does add a lil' Christmas--right this very minute. I chose my standard tart crust, but this is another that would work well with other crust variations, be it graham cracker, Oreo, or shortbread, with or without nuts.
Crust adapted from Dorie Greenspan, mint filling adapted from Serious Eats
Makes an 11-inch tart
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. confectioner's sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
9 Tblsp. unsalted butter, cold & cubed
1 egg yolk
For mint filling:
3 c. confectioner's sugar
2 1/2 Tblsp. unsalted butter, softened
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1 Tblsp. peppermint extract
2 tsp. peppermint schnapps (optional)
3 Tblsp. heavy cream
For chocolate ganache:
8 oz. 60-70% chocolate, chopped (or use chocolate chips)
3/4 c. heavy cream
1/4 c. sugar
2 candy canes or peppermint candies, crushed (optional)
1. Combine flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the cubed butter and pulse to incorporate until the mixture resembles cornmeal and peas. Add the egg yolk and pulse until the dough begins to form together.
2. Roll out the dough and pat it into your greased and floured tart pan. Freeze the tart shell for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
3. Butter the shiny side of a piece of aluminum foil and fit it tightly over the tart shell. Partially bake it (no need for pie weights) until golden in color, approximately 30-35 minutes. Remove the foil, gently pushing down any part of the crust that has puffed, and bake for about 5 minutes more. Let cool to room temperature while you prepare the tart filling.
1. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the sugar, butter, extracts, schnapps (if using), and heavy cream (Make sure to add the ingredients in that order for proper mixing). Once combined, turn mixer to medium speed and beat for another minute or so until a smooth, thick paste (like the inside of a peppermint pattie) is formed.
2. On parchment paper, roll the pattie filling out in a 9-inch circle about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Place it in the bottom of the baked and cooled tart shell, piecing when necessary, and chill in the fridge about 30 minutes until filling has become slightly hard.
For chocolate ganache:
1. Put chocolate, heavy cream, and sugar in the top of a double boiler. Put water in the bottom of the boiler and place on medium heat until the filling is melted, glossy, and thick. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
2. Once tart has chilled, remove from the fridge and pour chocolate ganache over the mint filling. Smooth with a knife and return to the fridge for about 30 minutes until chocolate is set. Serve slightly chilled or at room temperature.
This tart-ified peppermint pattie was well received at the party, and I don't think it was just all the anticipation that was built when I made all the guests hold off on eating it until I got enough good photos (thanks for putting up with that, everyone). We had a really lovely reunion of old family friends, many who had met long ago but not seen each other in years. After dinner, a few of us migrated to the music room for some fiddle tunes, folk songs, and even some exhilarating Cajun accordion. Happy Christmas to all, and may it be filled with friends and family and music and sweet chocolatey minty things...