Peppermint pattie cake

In the process of making this cake I got covered in chocolate. C.O.V.E.R.E.D. Oh and it was 7:30 am. I have mentioned before that Little gets up earlier than anyone should be up. Hence why I was impatiently messing with ganache early one morning.

Mike eating cake

Word to the wise- wait for the ganache to get thick before pouring it on the cake. When I say thick I mean thick. Be patient. Unless you prefer to be covered in chocolate in which case have at it. I don’t judge. Just don’t do it first thing in the morning. I ate more chocolate than was prudent before finishing my first cup of coffee. It happens sometimes.

I made this cake for my dear friend Mike. He and his lovely better half Bev joined our family of friends a few years back and are two of the kindest, most thoughtful, generous people I have ever met. Mike works in Afghanistan roughly six months out of every year and is heading back soon. We threw a big barbeque at our house so we all had a chance to say “we love you and come back safe!”

In trying to decide what to make for dessert I remembered Mike’s favorite candies are York peppermint patties. Like devour 40 in day kind of favorite. So what better way to send him off but with a cake studded with his very favorite. It was a hit. He devoured a double sized slice in under 5 minutes. The lucky guy even took the leftovers home. Mostly to save me from eating more chocolate than than anyone should first thing the next morning. I appreciated the gesture. Way to take one for the team.

This cake is rich. It is practically a brownie. The whipped cream to top it with is a must as is the mint sauce. Both cut the richness and add great depth. Only make this if you are feeding a crowd. Or want to eat more chocolate than you should. Either is a good choice.

Peppermint Pattie Cake

Peppermint Pattie Cake (16 servings)

14 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
16 tablespoons (8 ounces) butter
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cream
6 eggs, separated
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup (6 ounces) small-diced peppermint pattie candies

Ganache Topping

1 cup cream
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

Whipped cream, for serving

Mint Syrup, recipe follows, for serving

mixing the cake

To make the cake:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Butter a 9 1/2 to 10-inch springform pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, butter the paper, and flour the pan, tapping out the excess flour.

Melt the chocolate with the butter and cream in the top of a double boiler. Reserve.

In the bowl of a mixer with a whip, beat the egg yolks with the sugar until very thick and light (about 5 minutes). Add the melted chocolate mixture to the egg yolks and mix until just blended. Add the flour, salt, and vanilla and mix until combined, scraping the bowl once or twice. Transfer the batter to a large mixing bowl and stir in the Peppermint Pattie pieces. The mixture will be quite thick.

In a clean mixing bowl, with a clean whip, beat the egg whites to medium soft peaks. Lighten the batter by stirring in about one-third of the egg whites. Fold in the remaining whites and place the batter in the prepared pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for approximately 45 to 50 minutes. The top of the cake will feel set and very fine hairline cracks will just start to form around the edges. Remove and cool in the pan on a rack.

Delicious peppermint pattie cake

To make the ganache topping:

Heat the cream in a heavy bottomed saucepan to just under a boil. Add the chopped chocolate and, over very low heat, constantly stirring, cook the mixture until it is completely smooth. Strain through a fine sieve into a bowl and cool, stirring occasionally, until thickened and spreadable. This can take several hours. You can make the topping up to 3 days ahead, refrigerate it, and allow it to come to room temperature for several hours before using. You can also hasten the cooling process by placing the melted ganache over an ice bath and gently stirring it till thickened; however, the resulting texture may not be quite as smooth and creamy.

Place the cooled cake upside down on a cardboard cake circle or a service plate. Remove the sides and bottom of the springform pan. Remove the parchment liner. Using an offset spatula, decoratively spread the ganache over what is now the top of the cake, drawing the ganache all the way out to the edges of the cake. Using the offset spatula, level the edges to give the cake a finished look. Serve at room temperature with whipped cream and Mint Syrup.

blanching the mint

Mint Syrup

1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup water
2 cups packed fresh mint leaves

Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Turn the heat down and simmer several minutes, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and cool completely. Reserve.

Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Have a strainer and a bowl of ice water at the ready. Working quickly, place the mint leaves in the boiling water and blanch until just wilted (about 10 seconds). Immediately strain the mint and place the leaves directly in the ice water to set their color. Strain the mint again, pressing to remove excess liquid.

Place the mint leaves and half of the reserved syrup in a blender. Puree the mint, stopping several times to scrape down the blender bowl. Add the remaining syrup and blend for 2 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a clean storage container and allow to sit overnight, covered, at room temperature.

Strain the syrup through a fine mesh strainer and discard the solid mint puree. Store the syrup, refrigerated, for up to 2 weeks. Shake or stir lightly before using.

Decorate peppermint pattie cake

Ps. I know this cake has what feels like 90 million steps and will most likely dirty every dish in your kitchen. It is time consuming and yes it will wreck your kitchen but trust me- it is completely worth it.

Mini blueberry pies

I have to tell you a secret- I don’t remember exactly how I made this.

It was a warm summer day. We had a lovely big pot of clams and crusty bread for dinner (recipe for another day but fear not I will give it to you). We ate on the picnic table in the backyard. There was leftover pie crust lurking in my fridge and blueberries we had picked earlier in the week were threatening to take a turn for the worse.

Fancy dinners like clams call for fancy desserts.  And wine. Lots of cold white wine. Even if it is a weeknight.

Ready for another secret? I used to be scared of pie crust. Then one day I talked myself into buying Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook from the local used bookstore. Her pate brisee (fancy name for pie crust if you ask me) is simple. Four ingredients and a food processor. I conquered my fear and could now make this in my sleep. It was in fact this very crust that was lurking behind the bowl of blueberries.

So I pulled it out, rolled it, shoved it in to some custard cups  , filled it with peak of the summer Oregon blueberries, topped it with a star, and then, as soon as it cooled, I inhaled it. My sister, brother-in-law, and husband were impressed. Both by the dessert and my speed in eating it.

Yumm.

So please make this. Use up leftover pie crust. Throw in whatever fruit you have on hand. I am sure you could make with with pitted cherries, apples, apricots, peaches, or even strawberries. Be brave. Experiment. You won’t regret it.

Loosely based on these two recipes from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook :

Pate Brisee (Makes enough for one double or two single-crust 9 inch pies)
I had already made a double crusted pie and was using up the scraps I had left in the fridge. It made 4 mini custard cup pies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small
1/4 cup ice water, plus more if needed
Dump flour and salt into the food processor; pulse to combine. Add butter, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse crumbs about 10 pulses 1-2 seconds each. (To mix by hand, combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, then cut in butter with a pastry blender.)
Turn machine on add ice water through feed tube in a slow, steady stream, just until dough holds together without being wet or sticky. Test by squeezing a small amount of dough together; if it is still too crumbly, add a bit more water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Turn out dough onto a clean work surface. Divide in half, and place each half on a piece of plastic wrap. Shape into flattened disks. Wrap in plastic, and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight. The dough can be frozen for up to 1 month; thaw overnight in the refrigerator before using.

single serving blueberry pies

Blueberry Pie

Pate Brisee (see above recipe)
8 cups blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cornstarch
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon heavy cream

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out half the dough to 1/8-inch-thick circle, about 13 inches in diameter. Drape dough over a 9-inch pie pan, and transfer to refrigerator to chill for about 30 minutes. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Whisk together egg and milk to make egg wash, and set aside. Combine blueberries, lemon juice, sugar, cornstarch, and turn onto chilled bottom crust. Dot with butter. Roll out the remaining dough to the same size and thickness. Brush the rim of the crust with the egg wash, place the other piece of dough on top, trim to 1/2 inch over edge of pan, and crimp the edges with a fork or your fingers. Transfer the pie to the refrigerator to chill until firm, about 30 minutes. Brush with the egg wash, and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for 30 to 40 minutes more or until juices are bubbling. Let cool before serving.

Now that you have the recipes here is what I did- I took the leftover pie crust, rolled it out and lined my custard cups with it. Then I mixed about two cups of blueberries with roughly 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, two tablespoons of sugar and a dash of lemon juice. I divided the blueberries between my four lined mason jars. Then I rolled out the leftover dough, cut a star out of the dough with my largest star cookie cutter, placed a small dot of butter on top of each mini pie, topped with the cut out star, brushed with egg wash, then sprinkled with sugar. Baked at 400 for about 20 minutes checking frequently.

super cute single serving blueberry pies

Then stuff in your face. Preferably after a big clam dinner and loads of wine.

clam dinner

Peanut butter pie (of sorts)

I have a confession. You say birthday I say cake. As in if I hear it is your birthday, your dogs birthday, your half birthday, etc I consider it an occasion to make you a cake. Nothing says I love you (to me at least) quite like homamade loveliness covered in frosting lovingly (although poorly) decorated. Precious little brings me as much joy as being part of a special occasion and being able to bring that person a whole pile of sugar love.

Aaron with Peanut Butter CakeSo last week when I heard it was Aaron’s birthday the first words out of my mouth were “Can I make you a cake?”His response was “Well I certainly am not going to turn you down so if you want to…” He requested peanut butter and chocolate. I was set out to make a chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting. Have I mentioned I must be the one person on the planet that doesn’t like the combination of peanut butter and chocolate? However the birthday boy requested it so that was the kind of cake he was going to get.

And somehow this isn’t a cake. Well it is of sorts because it comes out of a springform pan but it more pie like. There is a graham cracker crust and a filling. I did make my very first parchment piping bag to drizzle chocolate over the top. It wouldn’t be a special occasion if I didn’t pipe something on to it. It actually looks ok for a change. I stumbled onto this recipe at sweetapolita.com and couldn’t resist making it.

Happy birthday Aaron. I hope you enjoyed it.

 Peanut Butter Cake

Creamy Peanut Butter Pie

8 ounces chocolate graham crackers
4 tablespoons butter, melted
4 ounces finely chopped chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped peanuts
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup creamy-style peanut butter
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 – 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Mash up the graham crackers in to a fine powder (food processor, in a bag with a rolling pin, in a bowl with the bottom of a cup). Combine melted butter and  crumbs in a small bowl, and stir with a fork to mix well. Press mixture into the bottom and 1-inch up the sides of a 9 or 10-inch springform pan.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave. Pour over bottom of cookie crust and spread to the edges using an off-set spatula. Sprinkle chopped peanuts over the melted chocolate. Place pan in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.

Pour the heavy cream into a bowl and beat using a stand mixer or hand mixer until stiff peaks form. Transfer to a small bowl and store in refrigerator until ready to use. Place the cream cheese and peanut butter in a deep bowl. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in the confectioner’s sugar. Add the sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract and lemon juice. Increase speed to medium and beat until all the ingredients are combined and filling is smooth.

Stir in 1/3 of the whipped cream into the filling mixture (helps lighten the batter, making it easier to fold in the remaining whipped cream). Fold in the remaining whipped cream. Pour the filling into the prepared springform pan. Drizzle the melted chocolate on top, if using, and refrigerate for three hours or overnight before serving.

Notes- The crust was a bit crumbly. If I were to remake it I would do one of two things- instead of just melting the chocolate and spreading it on I would add a tablespoon or two of heavy cream to make it a ganache which I think would hold the crust together better. The other thing to try would be to add an extra tablespoon of butter. Just my two cents.

A Slice of Peanut Butter Cake