December began in a flurry of icing sugar, clouds of winter-white whipped cream and cool peppermint candy canes. My mother’s birthday was last week and I make her a peppermint bonbon tart every single year. It’s her very favourite. The recipe has been in our family forever – or at least since the gelatin-dessert-crazed sixties – and I absolutely love it. My grandmother used to make this tart for my mom when she was a girl. The recipe was eventually passed to me, as the designated dessert enthusiast of the family. I made my typical, modern adjustments and adaptations (replacing shortening with butter; freshly whipping the cream; etc.) while keeping its vintage charm.
This is a candy tart through and through, from the solid chocolate shell to the fluffy candy cane laced filling. It’s the perfect way to use all those Christmas candy canes! To get that gorgeous pink colour, though, just be sure they’re the traditional red and white striped ones. If you use candy canes with green in them, your tart will have an unappetizing brownish hue. (I speak from experience.) This is the kind of classic holiday dessert I can imagine being served at a mid-century dinner party with guests gathered around a shiny aluminum Christmas tree and, while I’m not that into metallic Christmas trees or tinsel, I love the aesthetic and ambiance of an old-school 60s-style holiday.
Peppermint Bonbon Tart
8 oz. good, semi-sweet chocolate
2 cups heavy cream
12 red & white striped peppermint candy canes
1 envelop (1/4 oz.) unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
additional candy canes, to garnish
Butter an 11 x 1 inch tart pan (with removable base) and set aside.
Melt the chocolate with 2 tablespoons cream in a bain-marie or double boiler. Stir the chocolate frequently to be sure it doesn’t burn. When the chocolate is smooth, transfer it to the buttered tart pan. With clean hands, spread the chocolate evenly in the pan and up the edges making sure to cover the seam around the base. Work quickly because it’s hot! Place in the refrigerator to harden while making the filling.
Dissolve the gelatin in 1/4 cup cold water and set aside.
Place the candy canes in a zip-top bag and crush them finely with a rolling pin or meat mallet. Heat 1/2 cup cream in a small sauce pan over medium heat, slowly add the crushed candy and stir until the candy has completely melted into the cream. (The finer you crush the candy, the faster it will melt.)
Pour the melted candy into a large, heat-safe bowl and stir in the gelatin. Allow to cool to room temperature.
Whip the remaining cream until stiff peaks form. When the gelatin mixture is cool, vigorously stir 1/4 of the whipped cream into the gelatin and candy. This lightens the mixture, making it easier to fold in the remaining cream. Gently fold in the rest of cream. Pour the filling into the chocolate shell and spread evenly. Refrigerate until set. Just before serving, garnish with additional crushed candy canes, if desired.