JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I had a wonderful writerly get-together in Portland over the past few days. Charles Salzberg, honorary Red Jenny Milchman and I did a packed-to-the-rafters gig Thursday at Longfellow Books, one of our area's great indy bookstores. (The crowd was even more amazing when you consider they had to walk there through windchills of -15.) The next night, we hit an oyster bar with Charles' hosts, writer/blogger Brynne Betz and her partner John. It was a great dinner, sitting at picnic tables with kids and spouses, trading around traditional New England fare tapas-style.
But the best part of the evening was afterwards, at John and Brynne's house. Brynne had baked a dessert buffet to die for: coconut-covered carrot cake, dark chocolate layer cake with mocha frosting, and best of all? Homemade peppermint patties. I did the usual, "Oh, I'll just have a little slice," but after the first bite of carrot cake, I would have stabbed anyone who got between me and my plate. I was going to have a ladylike taste of one peppermint patty; I wound up eating five. My family's gratitude (or our grunts of pleasure as we wolfed down her baking) touched our hostess's heart, and she sent us home with two enormous slabs of cake and several patties, which, sad to say, didn't last very long.
I don't know if I have the patience to hand-dip each patty into a chocolate bath, but I do have a recipe that has all the basics of peppermint patties in an easy-to-make form. And, in honor of our own Lucy's upcoming Murder with Ganache, this delicious dessert uses - you guessed it - chocolate ganache!
Peppermint Patty Pie
1 graham cracker crust
3 c confectioners sugar
2 1/2 T butter
1/4 t vanilla extract
1 t peppermint oil or 1 T peppermint extract (you can also put in peppermint schnapps to taste along with the oil or extract. The oil give it a very sharp, pungent mint flavor.)
3 T whipping cream
8 oz or 1 1/2 c dark chocolate chips (I like Ghiradelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate ones)
3/4 c whipping cream
1/4 c sugar
Cream together the confectioner's sugar, butter, vanilla extract and peppermint, adding the cream last. If you use a mixer, you can get it nice and smooth; if you're lazy like me, do it with a spoon. Is your family really going to complain about some lumps? It should have a paste-like consistency.
On a baking cloth/wax paper/parchment, roll the filling into a circle sized to fit your crust. Put it in the crust (you will probably need to poke it here and there to make it fit well,) then chill in the frig while you make the ganache.
For the ganache: put the chocolate, cream and sugar in a double boiler (you don't have to have a fancy one; I literally use one pot inside another) and heat at medium until the chocolate melts. Whisk it silky-smooth, then remove it from the stove and let it cool for about fifteen minutes.
Take the crust + filling from the frig and pour the ganache over it. Replace in the frig for another half hour or until you can't stand the wait any more and you have to eat it.
While you're enjoying your Peppermint Patty Pie, be sure to head over to Goodreads and enter the contest to get a copy of Lucy's Murder with Ganache. And at Lucy's Facebook page, you can enter to win a $25 bookstore gift card and a bundle of cozy mysteries!