'Mendiants' - are traditional French chocolates, like mini-chocolate disks, topped with nuts and dry fruit. The French love to make and eat them around Christmas time, but I eat them all year round :)! No surprise - they are just so crunchy and yummy... and the chocolate disk is usually quite thin, so you get the right balance of nuts and dried fruit vs the chocolate. Also, because French use a bit of chocolate, they tend to go for the highest quality chocolate, so that your indulgence rises straight up to the stratosphere.
I did my 'mendiants' in a traditional way by using raw cacao drops and creating chocolate itself first. But you can take any good quality chocolate tablet without any flavouring and simply melt it. Ideally, you would go for very dark chocolate as sweet dried fruit will add a bit of sugar. But Milk chocolate works as well. You might just want to add some sour dried fruit like goji berries or dried strawberries.
I know most of you might be using a microwave to melt the chocolate as this is the quest way, but I always recommend going the usual old double boiler way. Microwaves are so bad for the planet and destroy a lot of nutrients and antioxidants that are inside the chocolate.
Here are some temperature hints for using the double boiler:
70%-80% dark chocolate: keep the temperature of your melting chocolate unto 50C/122F
70%-80% dark chocolate: pour the chocolate into moulds or on paper at 32C/89F
55%-65% milk chocolate: keep the temperature of your melting chocolate unto 42C/107F
55%-65% milk chocolate: pour the chocolate into moulds or on paper at 28C/82F
Finally, for the moulds, you can either use the same moulds as for macarons or you can just do circles on a sheet of parchment paper. You can use a tablespoon to pour chocolate or pipe out the round disks. Just remember that if you using a parchment paper, the circles are going to increase in diameter by at least another 50% after you pour your chocolate.
So, let's do it!
Crunchy Mendiants with Easter Toppings Recipe
Makes: 20-24 disks
Takes: 80 minutes
100g (3.53oz) 72% dark chocolate
Nuts of your choice - nicely chopped
Dried fruit and berries of your choice
Colourful sugar topping
You will need to read the text above for more details and here are the summary steps:
1. Break the chocolate into big pieces and start melting on a double boiler. Important! Chocolate hates water and its formula breaks when it gets in contact with water. So don't let the water in your boiler steam like crazy - it needs to be hot but all minor steam needs to stay inside the boiler. That is why it can take up to 30 minutes to melt the chocolate slowly and gradually. But it will pay off - your chocolate will be smooth and silky inside.
2. In the meantime, prepare the nuts and dried fruit and berries. I used almonds, hazelnuts, Brazilian nut, goji berry, dried cherries, white mulberries and coconut flakes
3. When the chocolate has melted, you need to let it cool down - see temperatures above.
4. Now you will have to work quickly, as the small chocolate disks freeze quickly, especially in a cold kitchen. You might want to pipe out one by raws, pausing after each raw and adding all ingredients, while the chocolate is still soft.
5. Once ready - put the tray with the paper or the moulds into the fridge for 20 minutes. Once the chocolate is hard - not is ready to be eaten.
Homemade mendiants should stay in the fridge for up to 2 months and in the cupboard - for up to 2 weeks. Enjoy!