Chances are we’ve got it all wrong, but for us Northerners, Derby Day means an afternoon of wearing spring clothes and drinking mint juleps. Oh, and betting on horses. In honor of the mint and the real arrival of springtime, I invented this tart. The filling sits in a shallow shortbread crust, more like a French pastry than a deep-dish Southern pie. It’s really made of white chocolate, mint, and cream, but it tastes like a mixture of marshmallow and heaven. To bring spring into the mix, I top it all off with some gently cooked blackberries, for which you could substitute freshly cut, sugared strawberries if they’re around in time.
If you’re hosting a Derby Day Party–or any spring event–at home, this elegant yet gooey tart makes a fine end to a cocktail party or sitdown dinner.
From my kitchen, albeit small, to yours,
Cara, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK
Whipped Mint Ganache Tart with Blackberries
For the filling
1 cup heavy cream
6 ounces good-quality white chocolate (ingredients contain cocoa butter)
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract or 1/2 cup packed fresh mint leaves
For the crust
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
For the berries
10 ounces blackberries or strawberries
2 tablespoons sugar
If you’re using fresh mint in the filling, start two days ahead of time. Combine the mint and the cream in a small bowl and refrigerate overnight.
At least 6 hours before serving, strain the mint if you’ve used it and transfer the cream to a small saucepan. Chop the white chocolate coarsely and place it in a medium bowl. Bring the cream to a boil slowly, then pour it over the chocolate. Let sit for 1 minutes, then stir thoroughly but gently to melt the chocolate. Let rest for about 15 minutes, the stir it again to make sure all the chocolate is melted. If you didn’t use the fresh mint, stir in the extract. Cover tightly and refrigerate for 6 hours or overnight.
In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350°F for the crust. Combine the butter, vanilla, sugar, and salt and stir well. Add the flour and fold it in. The dough will be very soft. Press it into a 9-inch fluted pie pan with removable bottom, and even it out across the bottom and the sides. Bake for 15 minutes, until golden and firm. Cool completely.
Prepare the blackberries: combine half of the berries with the sugar and 1 tablespoon water in a smal saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the berries have begun to break apart and a syrup has formed. Add the remaining half of the berries, and cook through. Cool to room temperature. (If you’re using strawberries, no need to cook. Simply slice the berries, combine them with the sugar, and leave to marinate for 30 minutes-1 hour.)
When ready to serve, beat the cold ganache with a handheld mixer until it is thickened and holds stiff peaks, about 1-2 minutes. Be careful not to overbeat–you just want the ganache to be spreadable. Scoop the ganache into the cooled tart shell and spread it across, making a slight indentation in the center, where you’ll pour the berries. You can do this up to 2 hours ahead of time; keep the tart in a cool place.
When ready to serve, heap the berries in the middle of the tart, letting the juices flow around the ganache. Serve immediately.