When I was a child and my parents went out for dinner, the next morning there would often be a gold-wrapped after-dinner mint on my bedside table - a treat from the night before. I'm sure Mum was the selfless one - Dad couldn't go past any kind of chocolate - and I always thought it was incredibly glamorous (bearing in mind it was the early 1980s). Restaurants no longer offer after-dinner mints to departing diners (at least, not the restaurants I go to), which is a great shame because there's something irresistable about that crisp chocolate shell and melty mint middle.
Anyway, the reason I started thinking about after-dinner mints was that mint is the special guest ingredient in this month's We Should Cocoa challenge, guest-hosted by Victoria of A Kick At The Pantry Door. Here's what I came up with.
Chocolate Mint Bars
This is so easy - the hardest part is waiting for it to set. If you don't have or don't like Oreos, I think it could work with any Mint Cremes or any dark chocolate biscuit. If you're using biscuits with a creamy filling, wait until the chocolate and cream mixture is quite cool before adding them or they will melt. Feel free to increase or reduce the peppermint essence (or oil, if you can get it). Either way, don't measure it over the bowl - the laws of baking gravity will ensure you accidentally tip in much more than you intended.
150g dark chocolate (the darker the better - I used 70 per cent cacao), roughly chopped
150g Oreo cookies (a packet)
1-1/2 tsp peppermint essence to taste
Line a large loaf tin with baking paper, leaving enough of an overhang so you can pull the finished product out easily.
Put the cream and chocolate into a small saucepan and set over very low heat. Keep a close eye on it - as soon as the cream looks like it is about to simmer, take it off the heat and stir well until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
Crumble the Oreos with your fingers - you want them in bits, not crumbs, so they add a crunchy texture - and add to the chocolate-cream mixture, along with the peppermint essence. Stir and taste - add more if you want it to be really minty.
Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin and smooth the top, then put it in the fridge to set (about an hour, best after two). Carefully lift out using the baking paper and cut into slender bars. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Have a great weekend, everyone! x