It is officially December and I am In. The. Spirit. It feels a little early to be so excited for Christmas… but I am. Maybe it is because my maternity leave is winding down and I am feeling the urge to play homemaker for as long as I can. Or maybe it is because Thing 1 is old enough this year to really “get” what the Christmas season is all about. Whatever it is, I am in the mood to make all kinds of Christmas goodies.
I spent the last week looking for some new recipes to try. In addition to the traditional stuff I always make, fudge, sugar cookies, etc., I wanted to find delicious things to add to my repertoire. I came across fun treats like Bourbon Balls and Gingerbread Whoopie Pies with Lemon Cream, and then I found the recipe for these tarts on a pull-out flyer from McCormick in one of my magazines.
These little tarts are perfect for the busy holiday season. Not only are they delicious and pretty to look at, they are quick and easy to make. The crispy phyllo tart shells contrasts nicely with the smooth chocolate ganache. The mint creme on top adds a light finish. Whip up a batch in less than half an hour and have an instant party treat or hostess gift. To make storage easier, build and store the tarts in the plastic trays that the phyllo shells come in. They keep for about a week in the refrigerator (though the shells lose some of their crispness over time) so you can make them when you have a few precious moments of free time.
Chocolate Tarts with Peppermint Creme
Recipe from McCormick
2 packages (15 shells each) frozen mini phyllo shells
1/3 cup plus 3/4 cup heavy cream, divided
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 tbls sugar, divided
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
extra chocolate or crushed peppermint candies for garnish (if desired)
Bake phyllo shells in a 350 degree oven for 3 to 5 minutes, until crisp. Let cool completely.
Chop chocolate and place in a microwave safe bowl with 1/3 cup heavy cream. Microwave on high for 1 minute, stirring briefly after 30 seconds. After the minute in the microwave, stir until all the chocolate is melted and the cream and chocolate are thoroughly combined. Cool until ganache is thickened slightly, about five minutes. Spoon a scant teaspoon of ganache into each phyllo cup. Allow to cool completely.
In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and 2 tbls of sugar until smooth. In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to whip 3/4 cup of heavy cream, remaining two tbls of sugar, and peppermint extract until the cream holds stiff peaks. Stir half the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture until smooth. Gently fold in remaining whipped cream.
Spoon about 1 tablespoon of creme onto each tart. Alternatively, use a piping bag and wide tip to pipe the creme onto each tart. I found that I had creme left over.
Garnish with shaved chocolate and/or crushed peppermint candies if desired. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.