Tuesday, December 16, 2014

TWD: Baking with Julia - Chocolate-Mint Nightcaps

We are back to Baking with Julia this week, with Chocolate-Mint Nightcaps.  Had I not watched a video of Marcel Desaulniers making these cookies with Julia, I would have never figured out the "nightcap" part.  See that swirl on the top of the cookie?  It is supposed to look like an old-fashioned nightcap.  Whatever.  Personally, aesthetically, I am not thrilled at the nightcap swirl.  It too closely resembles things that are not food and should never be confused with food, in my opinion.

However, let's not judge a book by it's cover, okay?  Let's talk about the cookies themselves.  I made half of the recipe, and ended up with 16 cookies.  The clever girl called these "cookie cakes".  The actual cookie part is quite cake-like.  Soft like a moon-pie. I would prefer a little more texture, since the ganache is also soft, but they are nice and soft and airy. 

The ganache is where the mint comes into play, or where it is SUPPOSED to come into play.  You heat cream with some fresh chopped mint, and then strain the cream into a bowl of chopped chocolate (which was supposed to be semi-sweet, but I used 2/3 semi-sweet and 1/3 70% dark chocolate).  The mint flavor did not come through as much as I would have liked.  I think to get a better mint flavor, you would have to heat the cream with the mint and then let it steep for a while, 20 minutes or so, and then heat the cream back up to then strain into the chopped chocolate.  The mint needs a bit longer to release its flavor into the cream.  You could also just add some peppermint extract...

Also regarding the ganache - the recipe says to spread the hot ganache on a sheet pan and refrigerate it to chill completely.  Well, at that point, it is unworkable so you then have to leave it out at room temperature for a while.  I initially thought I'd be lazy, so instead of getting out a piping bag and tip, I just scooped the ganache into a ziplock bag and trimmed the corner to pipe onto the cookies.  Maybe it was just that the ganache was still to firm to use, but it did not work for me.  It was a mess and then somehow the ziplock bag got a hole in another random spot so chocolate was oozing out all over the place!  (This is not always a bad thing, mind you, but in this case I was trying to convince said chocolate to behave and swirl out onto cookies for filling!)  So I went ahead and got the piping bag and a proper tip and suddenly the ganache knew I meant business so it complied and piped out nicely.  I'll show that ganache who is boss!  HA!

Overall, these are yummy and would be really great on a party tray.  You are sure to get oohs and aahs with cookies filled and topped with ganache!  I would probably try to bake the cookies a bit longer next time, and try to extract more mint flavor into the ganache.

This recipe can be found on pages 307-308 of Baking with Julia.  Check out what our other bakers did by clicking here!


  1. m not sure whether I will be able to look at these and not remember your comment about the 'nightcap' 😀.
    They look good. Thanks for the tips about letting them bake a little longer and letting the mint infuse into the cream. I haven't gotten around making these, but they are on my list.

  2. I wasn't too excited about the "nightcap" on top either...seemed weird. I am glad I made these but we all thought they were just ok, nothing too great.

  3. I had a few comments on my FB page about how the "nightcap" looked - and I have to agree. I also agree with you on the cream and mint needing to steep longer. I just left the ganache in the bowl to cool in the fridge - it was at perfect piping texture when I took it out, but as it sat, it hardened. I had to reheat it. Not a good thing - it wasn't as smooth as ganache should be. I think I would have liked these more, if the mint flavor came through.

  4. I am glad that I am not the only one who 1) had the same mental image on the nightcap and 2) had uncooperative filling. Sigh...


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