If you're one of those individuals who always opts for the chocolate-covered Thin Mints when your local Girl Scout representative comes calling, this dessert is for you. The refreshing peppermint counterpoint takes the edge off the intense fudge-like cake.
To facilitate cutting the Peppermint Patties, I often freeze them first. Use a hot, dry long-bladed knife to cut perfectly clean slices of the cake.
Serve with whipped cream, cocoa fudge sauce, and a drizzle of mint syrup.
Cocoa Fudge Sauce, recipe follows, for serving
Mint Syrup, recipe follows, for serving
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 the place 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.
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, Cocoa Fudge Sauce and Mint Syrup.
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.
Yield: 1 1/4 cups
Melt the butter in a medium sized saucepan. Whisk in the sugar and cocoa. Whisk in the cream and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium low heat, whisking often. Allow to simmer for 8 to 10 minutes until the sauce has thickened somewhat. Remove from heat, add the vanilla and strain though a fine sieve. Cool and serve at room temperature. This can be made up to 1 week ahead of time. It can also be frozen.
Yield: 2 cups