Friday, December 13, 2013

Peppermint White Chocolate Tart With A Hazelnut Crust & Candied Mint Leaves


One of the things I miss most about Oregon is the light dusting of snow we'd get a couple times a year. I grew up in a valley there so the snowfall was always really mild, just an inch or two thick, but goodness me, did it make everything look beautiful. White, crisp, and clean, I love the soft curved edges snow puts on everything. It just brightens up the world a bit, while simultaneously making any junk-strewn property look like a Thomas Kinkade painting.


While there was actually a bit of ice on the sidewalk earlier this week in my southern California neighborhood (madness!!), it wasn't fulfilling my longing for the look of snow (I even would have settled for a dense frost, really). So, I decided to make something that would look like winter really had come to Los Angeles, and after remembering Carey's amazing candied thyme project, I decided to candy some mint leaves to create a wintery treat that both tasted and looked of the season.


For the crust I used some crushed hazelnuts and Frangelico to give it a rich, nutty, and buttery flavor. I cooked the crust on it's own and the hazelnuts that were embedded into the crust toasted up nicely and filled my house with a scent that I can only describe as smelling like "Santa's kitchen". The filling was a simple peppermint white chocolate mixture that set at room temperature, and when topped with the candied mint leaves, it became pretty much the most holiday-y thing I've ever made. And the best part was that it was relatively simple to make!


The most tedious part was candying the mint leaves of course, but only because I had to brush a few dozen of them, not because it was actually difficult to brush them with egg whites and sprinkle them with sugar (if you've painted your nails, you can brush a mint leaf with egg white). But the presentation and wonderfully fresh and creamy minty flavor of the tart's topping and filling was totally worth the effort. I hope you agree when you try it, and wish you all warmth and coziness during this chilly part of the year. Here's hoping it warms up in 2014...



Ingredients:

Hazelnut Crust


1 and 1/3 cups flour
2 tablespoons crushed hazelnuts
2 tablespoons corn meal
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup powdered sugar
½ cup butter, very cold
1 egg, whisked
1 tablespoon Frangelico
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

White Chocolate Filling


1 and 1/4 cup white chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract

Candied Mint Leaves


1 cup fresh mint leaves
1 egg white, whisked
1 cup ultrafine baker's sugar


First prepare the candied mint leaves. Lightly brush the exterior of mint leaf with the egg white (you don't want to brush it on too thick otherwise the sugar will stick in too thick of a layer and you won't be able to see the details of the leaf through the sugar). Use a small spoon to gently sprinkle the sugar evenly over the leaf until it is coated in a light dusting of the sugar. Place the leaf on a wire rack to dry and repeat this process with the remaining leaves. Allow them to dry until they are stiff and crisp when poked (about 45 minutes).

While the leaves are drying you can prepare the crust. Mix together the flour, hazelnuts, cornmeal, sugar, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl until blended. Cut the butter into pea-sized pieces over the bowl, stir to coat the pieces in the flour mixture. Use a dough scraper or pastry cutter to chop at the mixture in the bowl to cut the butter into even smaller pieces. Empty the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the egg and Frangelico and mix at medium-low speed until it is just incorporated, taking care not to overwork the dough.


Grease and lightly flour a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Set aside. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured piece of parchment paper until it is ¼ inch thick. Flip the sheet over onto the tart pan and peel the parchment sheet off, leaving the dough on the pan. Press the dough into the pan and trim excess dough to form the crust to the pan. Poke the crust in several places with a fork to keep bubbles from forming. Place the crust in the freezer for one hour. Grease a sheet of aluminum foil and press the greased side snugly onto the crust. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and then bake the crust for 35-40 minutes or until lightly golden around the edges. Remove and set aside to cool while you prepare the white chocolate filling.


In the top of a double boiler over simmering water, mix together the white chocolate, cream, and peppermint extract. Continue stirring until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and immediately pour into the prepared tart crust until full. Allow the filling to cool for 40 minutes before arranging the candied mint leaves on top of the tart. Serve immediately.



35 comments:

  1. This is absolutely stunning. Such a gorgeous and unique dessert / presentation! I love that it's a new take on mint and chocolate. Thank you so much for posting this gem!

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    1. Thank you so much!! I am so glad you like it :)

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  2. Those candied mint leaves are too cool! Love this!

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  3. It's beautiful. It really does remind me of a dusting of Oregon snow, much like the day we encountered here at the Nest last week. :)

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    1. Awww thanks Lindsay :) I am sooooo excited to go home next week for a bit! I have been missing Oregon like crazy lately, will be awesome to get back and experience the beautiful winter!

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  4. You've transcribed the winter feeling so well! Beautiful! Need myself a bottle of Frangelico I think!

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    1. Haha, thank you Aurelie! I really do love winter, makes me want to snuggle up in a blanket indoors with a good book :)

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  5. Stunning tart. Those candied mint leaves are magical.

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    1. Thanks Lail! I love the way they turned out, too. Such a nice, frosty shade :)

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  6. This tart is just gorgeous. And I love the festive flavors!

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  7. How much cinnamon please?

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    1. Ack, I'm sorry! I've remedied the ingredient list to include it, 1/4 teaspoon. Thank you for your patience!

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  8. Pretty pretty! Do the candied mint leaves shatter with the slightest pressure? They look so delicate and lovely.

    I have to tell you, while I am LOVING the snow out here on the East Coast—it's our 2nd winter in New York and I still can't get over how soft and wispy it feels against the skin, and yes, the way it transforms everything into pure, pristine white—the wintry feeling gets lost indoors because of how hot it gets with the radiator on! It's like a sauna. Yesterday, we watched the snowstorm outside wearing nothing but t-shirts and shorts. But, I'm not complaining. I'd rather be too hot than not enough.

    Happy holidays to you and your husband!

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    1. Thank you so much Linda! You can hold the mint leaves between your fingers without them breaking, but if you push on them they will crack, kind of like a thin potato chip.

      The east coast has been getting some very cold weather, indeed! That is too funny about your guys' shorts and t-shirt weather, I am the same way when it's cold, I just love having it extra warm inside when I'm looking out on a chilly landscape. Makes it feel all the more cozy. And the wonderful look of snow....just magical.

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  9. Look at all those beautiful candied mint leaves!! Sugar coated herbs are so reminiscent of frosted, snowy things — I love it. (They are rather tedious to make though, aren't they? :) Still totally worth it when all is said and done! But yeah, I went a little nutso when I candied the thyme for the doughnuts.)

    I also love that you used white chocolate for the tart. I feel like it gets overlooked a lot in comparison to milk and dark varieties, but it's one of my favorites. (I'm guilty of buying bags of the white chocolate baking discs from Lake Champlain Chocolates, then just snacking on them like they're potato chips...) This tart is inspiring me to fancier things with it. (Rather than just stuffing it right in my face.)

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    1. I can't even imagine candying individual thyme leaves, soooooo time consuming!! These were about an inch or so long each, so it wasn't so bad. Totally worth the time, I just love the way candied flowers/herbs look. So friggin beautiful. And YES to white chocolate, that stuff is the BOMB. When I was studying abroad I stopped at this chocolate shop in Spain that had a white chocolate bar with broken up bits of rose-flavored hard candy inside. It was crazy good. I ended up recreating it last years in a minted rose peppermint bark that came out super tasty, but I'm going to have to make it again with plain white chocolate and rose hard candy. The mint was tasty, but I think the rose hard candy and white chocolate really worked nicely on their own.

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  10. the candied mint leaves are an excellent idea and the make the tart look exceptionally beautiful!

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  11. this is truly one of the most beautiful tarts i have ever seen. winter is not known for tarts or pies - mostly for cookies in my household. however, something as stunning and festive as this could totally change that.

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    1. Awwww that makes me very happy to hear, thank you Yelle! It is festive indeed, and quite tasty, too! :)

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  12. Ok, this is one of the prettiest things I've seen in a while and surely most Christmasy. We're still waiting for at least tidbits of snow here too and hopefully before the holidays begin!

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    1. Thank you so much, lady! I am sending thoughts of snow your way, hopefully you get a bit of a dusting soon!

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  13. In Denver it is now setting records for heat. We have gone from one extreme to the other but unfortunately my mint is still buried under snow! I must wait until spring to make this gorgeous tart. You have out done yourself again, Eva!

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  14. This tart looks very tempting. The candied mint leaves are gorgeous!

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  15. Looks delicious and very new to me :D Gotta try that tart for sure!

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  16. Hi Eva -- I just discovered your site via a pin on Pinterest, and I'm so glad I did! The photos for this tart are really stunning! I've candied all sorts of things, though I've never thought to candy mint leaves -- what a great idea! Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to stopping back again soon.

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  17. This looks amazing! My mom used to have a mint bush in the front yard and I ate the leaves off of it all the time. They're delicious on their own so I can't even imagine how good candied mint would be! I might have to try this, however I'm not a fan of white chocolate at all, I'm afraid. How well do you think this recipe would do with semi-sweet chocolate instead?

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  19. This is simply spectacular! I love how you prepared the mint leaves, and i am sure the tart would also be delicious with dark chocolate.... Love this recipe and your blog that I've just discovered :)

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