Chocolate Peppermint Snowflake Tart

Sometimes the recipes I try are pretty good. Sometimes they're not that great. And occasionally, they're really great.

The really great recipes are the ones I mentally star, the sort of recipes I undoubtedly will come back to time and again.

I wasn't expecting this recipe, which I cut out of the newspaper one day last week, to be in the really great category.

Only it was. It is. It's on the hit list, I think.

It's a chocolate peppermint snowflake tart. The recipe, courtesy of the AP, goes a little something like this:

Crust ingredients:
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
½ cup sugar
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, cut into chunks

Ganache ingredients:
1 ¼ cups heavy cream
8 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 ½ teaspoons peppermint extract
Powdered sugar, for dusting

Heat the oven to 375 F. In a food processor, combine the flour, salt, cocoa powder and sugar. Pulse to combine. Add the butter and process until the mixture forms a dough, about 30 seconds.

Remove the dough from the processor and break off about a third of it. Set this aside.

Press the remaining dough into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Use a fork to prick the bottom of the crust all over. Freeze for 15 minutes, then bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the center of the bottom feels firm.

Meanwhile, make the snowflake cookies.

Roll out the reserved dough between 2 sheets of parchment paper to 1/8 inch thick. Move the dough to a baking sheet, including the parchment paper, then refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.

Use 1- to 2-inch cookie cutters to cut out 8 to 10 snowflakes (of multiple sizes, if desired). If the dough becomes too soft, you may need to chill it in the refrigerator as you work. Once all of the cookies are cut, transfer them to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Bake the snowflakes for 10 to 15 minutes (depending on size of the cookies), or until firm. Cool the cookies on the baking sheet.

To make the ganache filling, in a small saucepan over medium, heat the cream until simmering. Add the chocolate and let sit off the heat for 2 minutes. Stir until smooth. Stir in the peppermint extract, then pour into the baked tart shell. Refrigerate until firm, about 2 hours.

When ready to serve, dust the snowflake cookies with powdered sugar, then arrange them on the top of the tart.

If I remember correctly (I was in a food haze when she said it), Kid Sister called the tart "Andes mints on steroids." I like this. Or perhaps it was the Girl Scouts' thin mint cookies on steroids. That might be even more fitting, with the bit of crunch the tart crust and cookies provide.

Either way, it's rich and festive and oh so yummy.

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