Chocolate Mint Tart

A decadent chocolate mint tart! A baked chocolate pie crust topped with layers of mint white chocolate and dark chocolate ganaches.

If you have been following my blog, you already know my garden is the inspiration for many of my recipes. You also know I adore my herbs. None more than my chocolate mint. Just working in the garden, a gentle bump against these fragrant beauties releases the most glorious aroma. You’ve heard the saying, stop and smell the roses. I rather stop and smell the chocolate mint which I do each time I get a whiff of them.

I’m bringing all those wonderful smells into this tart. The mint ganache layer incorporates fresh mint leaves in a homemade chocolate mint extract. This adds that extra freshness to the mint ganache layer which is so much better than an imitation extract that can taste a bit like chemicals. Using a dark chocolate balances the mint for that perfect balance between the layers.

*Chocolate Mint Extract:

Do you want to make your own extract? Cram a clean canning jar full of fresh chocolate mint herb and cover the herb with vodka. Let it age in the back of a cabinet that does not get any direct sunlight for a minimum of four months. The longer it ages the more intense and beautiful the extract will be. Once distilled drain the liquid through a fine mesh strainer and discard the leaves. Store the extract in an airtight jar.

Secret Ingredient:

I actually do not like cocoa powder. I find it to be too bitter for my liking. My trick is to use a cocoa mix instead. It adds a creamier, slightly sweeter, flavor to the dough.

CHOCOLATE MINT TART

Cedar Oak Farms
This chocolate mint tart is wonderfully reminiscent of an after dinner Andes mint, tucked into a chocolate pastry shell. 
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Chill Time 5 hrs
Course Dessert
Cuisine French

Ingredients
  

Crust:

  • 1/2 cup salted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder

Mint Ganache Layer:

  • 9 ounces white chocolate
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon *chocolate mint extract
  • Green food coloring, optional

Chocolate Ganache Layer:

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 6 ounces dark chocolate
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • Pinch of Salt

Garnish:

  • 2 ounces dark chocolate, melted
  • White chocolate shaves
  • Dark chocolate shaves
  • Mint Leaves

Instructions
 

Make Crust:

  • Place the butter into the bowl of a stand-up mixer. Sift in the powdered sugar through a fine-mesh sieve. Turn the mixture on medium and beat until smooth.
  • Beat the egg and add half at a time to the butter mixture, beating well to incorporate between additions.
  • In a medium bowl sift the flour and peppermint cocoa powder together. Add to the butter mixture.
  • Using a rubber spatula, mix the cocoa mixture into the dough until evenly distributed. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap. Refrigerator for at least 30 minutes
  • Preheat the oven to 375˚F.
  • Grease a 9-inch tart pan and roll out the chilled dough to an 11-inch circle. Roll the dough around the rolling pin, then unroll the dough over the pan.
  • Press the dough against the bottom and sides of the pan, then use the rolling pin to roll over the top of the pan, cutting off any excess dough. Press the dough gently against the pan once more. Using a folk, prick some holes in the bottom of the crust so it doesn’t puff up.
  • Bake for 15 minutes, then remove the tart shell from the oven. Let cool completely.

Mint Ganache Layer:

  • Finely chop the white chocolate and place in a heat proof bowl. Place the cream in a saucepan and bring just to the boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and whisk until smooth. Stir in the chocolate mint extract. Pour over the pastry and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or until set.

Chocolate Ganache Layer:

  • Finely chop the chocolate and place in a heat proof bowl. In a heavy saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a simmer. Do not let it boil. Pour the whipping cream over the chopped chocolate and whisk until smooth. Add in the vanilla and salt and stir well until evenly combined.
  • Pour the chocolate ganache on top of the set mint layer in the tart tin and gently tap the tin on your work surface to knock out any air bubbles. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes before transferring the tart to the fridge to set for 4 hours (or overnight).

Garnish:

  • Once set, remove the tart from the tart tin. Drizzle the melted dark chocolate over the tart. Garnish with the white and dark chocolate shaves and fresh mint leaves.

Notes

* This recipe assumes you are using a homemade extract. If you are using a store bought extract reduce the amount you use to 1 teaspoon.
Keyword Pies & Tarts

Ginger Panna Cotta

Ginger panna cotta, a cross between pudding and cheesecake, is topped with whip cream and a freshly pressed apple cider granita. All those wonderful Fall flavors we look forward to ever season.

I only recently found, and fell in love, with panna cotta. Just the name alone, panna cotta, sounded complicated enough for me to avoid it. I’m not much of a dessert person to start with and I defiantly am not a baker of any sort. Give me a stock pot and a garden I’ll come away with someone wonderful. Sit down some flour, baking soda, and a copious amount of randomness and I’m like, uhmmm, what am I supposed to do now? So, yes, panna cotta made me shiver in complicated fear. I was wrong!

What is Panna Cotta?

Panna Cotta is Italian Pudding. Basically, it is simmered sweetened dairy, in this recipe I used heavy cream, thickened with gelatin. That’s it! You can add flavors and spices to the dairy and let it simmer into the milk, but it couldn’t be easier. The only thing you want to watch out for is splitting the cream. I avoid that my dissolving the gelatin separately and adding it to the simmered dairy off the heat. Do not let the dairy come to a boil. Boiling destroys gelatin’s thickening power and will split the panna cotta for sure.

Since Fall is in the air I choose to bring all those wonderful fall spices and fruits into the dessert. What could be better than ginger, cloves, cinnamon, allspice, and apple cider frozen into an apple cider granita.

What is Granita?

Granita is fresh fruit simmered in water, blended and frozen until icy, flaked with a fork and frozen again. By using apple cider, half the work is already completed. Since granita is basically flavored shaved iced I was generous with the spices to really boost those flavors.

Ginger Panna Cotta

Cedar Oak Farms
Ginger panna cotta, a cross between pudding and cheesecake, is topped with whip cream and a freshly pressed apple cider granita.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Freeze/Refrigerate 12 hrs
Course Dessert
Cuisine Italian
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

For the Panna Cotta:

  • 1 envelope Knox gelatin
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger

For the granita:

  • 2 cups apple cider
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves

Instructions
 

For the Panna Cotta:

  • Sprinkle the gelatin over the milk and set aside. Place the rest of the ingredients into a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Do not boil. Remove from heat and whisk in the gelatin milk. (This might look like a paste at this point, but not to worry. It is the perfect consistency.) Pour into 4 cocktail or wine glasses, filling halfway up. Place in the refrigerator until set, about 4 hours.

For the granita:

  • Mix all the ingredients together, and simmer for 15 minutes on low heat. Place in a bowl and freeze for 2 hours. After two hours, mix with a fork and freeze overnight. When ready to serve scrape with a fork to resemble graham cracker crumbs. Reserve any unused granita in the freezer.

To Serve:

  • Serve the panna cotta in the glass, top with some freshly made whipped cream. Add the granita. The granita will melt quickly; serve immediately.
Keyword Custard

Gingered Cantaloupe with Sage Honey.

Fresh fruit makes the simplest dessert and is that perfect sweet ending to any meal.

We always look forward to the early summer garden with fresh corn-on-the-cob and tomatoes bursting in bright vivid colors. But there’s really something to be said about the early fall garden. For us here in Central Illinois that’s when our “orange” fruits and vegetables ripen giving us big beautiful pumpkins, the sweetest sweet potatoes, plump carrots, and a personal favorite, juicy sweet fruits like redhaven peaches and cantaloupe. It’s the cantaloupe that is highlighted in this fruit dessert.

Cantaloupe is perfect sliced in wedges and eaten plain, but if you want to elevate the flavors cut the fruit into melon balls and mix them with freshly grated ginger and a drizzle of sage honey. That peppery tang in the fresh ginger just hits the tongue in the most delightful way and changes the cantaloupe giving it a more dynamic flavor. Then the sage honey comes in with a sweet, clover-like flavor and tames the ginger. But what really brings it all together is the floral undertones in all three of the ingredients. The flavors explode in your mouth and then come together in a gentle swaying dance.

Just use a light hand with both the ginger and honey. Fresh ginger can be very potent and can overtake the more mellow cantaloupe. You know the rule: you can always add more, but you cannot take it away.

Bread Pudding

Bread pudding, once known as poor man’s pudding, has come a long way since its humble beginnings. It evolved as a use for stale bread. Today’s bread puddings, however, take advantage of fresh, gourmet breads, such as brioche, and include expensive ingredients, such as vanilla beans, flavored liquors, gourmet cheese, or pecans. It has shaken its modest origins and now shows up on the dessert menus of upscale restaurants and creative home cooks.

For us it is the ultimate comfort food and we love how versatility it is. The dish is made by layering bits of bread (or leftover muffins, croissants, buns, you get the idea) with any imaginable addition from fruit, to liquor, to spices, to leftover chocolate, in a dish and soaking it in a custard sauce before baking. It bakes up golden and fluffy and as if that isn’t enough it is often drizzled in creamy flavorful sauces. Seriously, what’s not to love?

The Basic:

Start with a basic bread pudding. I usually tear a loaf of challah bread into a large bowl. In a medium saucepan heat 3 cups milk (or half and half, or 2 cups milk and 1 cup heavy cream) with 3 tablespoons butter just until butter is melted. Pour over bread and let sit 15 minutes to cool. In a small bowl whisk 3 eggs with 1/2 cup sugar until it is smooth ad thick. Add 2 teaspoons vanilla (or vanilla bean). Gently mix into the bread mixture. Let the bread sit and soak, making sure that the bread is sufficiently moist before it goes into the oven. Pour the mixture into a greased pan or casserole. Bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 45 minutes, or until puffy and no liquid is visible when a knife is inserted. Let cool to room temperature. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.

Add Some Yum:

Serve with fresh berries and a basic vanilla sauce.

Raspberry Bread Pudding:

Bread Pudding with raspberries

Follow the basic recipe but add 1/2 pint fresh raspberries when adding the vanilla. While the bread is cooling make the white chocolate sauce: In a small saucepan, heat ½ cup half and half with the beans from a 1-inch slice of vanilla pod. When it starts to boil, remove from heat. Add 2 teaspoons unsalted butter and 8 ounces white chocolate that has been chopped into small pieces. Whisk until smooth. Spoon the white chocolate sauce onto a serving dish. Set a slice of raspberry bread pudding in the center. Drizzle with caramel sauce and top with whipped cream. Serve immediately.

Caramel Whiskey Bread Pudding:

Combine 1 cup raisins and 1/2 cup caramel whiskey in a small saucepan. Heat just to a simmer, cover and set aside. Make the basic bread pudding as listed above, but add 1/2 pint of blueberries, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and the drunken raisins when adding the vanilla. While the bread pudding is baking make the pudding sauce: Melt 1 stick unsalted butter; stir in 1 cup brown sugar and 1 beaten egg. Simmer to thicken. Stir in 1/4 cup caramel whiskey, 1/4 cup milk and keep warm until ready to use. Serve with bread.

Lemon Meringue Tart

These Lemon Meringue Tarts are filled with a bold burst of lemon wrapped in a buttery flaky crust with a perfect swirl of slightly sweetened meringue.

Lemon Meringue Tart

Cedar Oak Farms
Prep Time 45 mins
Cook Time 18 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine Traditional
Servings 12

Ingredients
  

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • salt
  • 1/2 cup cold butter plus some butter to grease the molds, cubed
  • 2 lemons
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 4 ounces creme fraiche

Instructions
 

  • In a food processor bowl add the flour, powdered sugar, and a pinch of salt. Pulse 1 – 2 times to mix. Add the butter cubes and pulse until dough is crumbly with peas-sized pieces. Add about 2 tablespoons cold water and pulse into a smooth dough. Wrap in foil and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Brush a tartlet mold with butter. I just used a 12-cup muffin tin.
  • Roll butter pastry on a floured work surface. Then cut with a cookie cutter circles of about 3-inches in diameter. Carefully place them in the molds and press all the way to the edge. Cut away the overhanging dough with a knife.
  • Place some dough weights or beans in cups to weigh the dough down to prevent shrinking or buckling. Bake for 10 minutes, remove the weights and bake another 5 – 8 minutes, or until golden brown. .
  • In the meantime, zest and juice the lemons.
  • Separate eggs. Add the egg yolks to the lemon juice, zest, 1/2 cup sugar, cornstarch and 1/2 cup water in a saucepan, stir well and heat on the stove with constant stirring until a pudding-like consistency. Stir in crème fraîche.
  • Carefully pour the lemon cream into the pastry tarts and let cool in the fridge.
  • For the meringue beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff, gradually adding 1/4 cup sugar.
  • Pour egg whites into a piping bag with star spout and pipe on the lemon cream. Flush the meringue briefly with a flambéer.
Keyword Pies & Tarts