When I was a child, I was living in what one would call a small town: 15,000 inhabitants. Once in a while we would go to the big town close by, it was THE big trip…
As a chocolate lover, my mum would take us for a treat to a dream chocolate shop created back in 1781: Viellard. Yes… there are many chocolate shops across France, and yes… French people do love their chocolate :-) We were then only allowed to buy a couple of things so we had to choose carefully!
Among my favourite chocolate treats were the mendiants*. Mainly sold at Christmas, mendiants are traditional French confections originally composed of a chocolate disc studded with nuts and dried fruits: raisins, hazelnuts, dried figs and almonds as reference to the colours of the monastic robes of the four mendicants or monastic orders of the Dominicans: Dominicans, Augustins, Franciscans and Carmelites**.
Made with premium quality chocolate, mendiants are a delight and they come nowadays with every kind of little toppings… I have then created some with a dark chocolate base and the following:
- almonds and little white chocolate stars
- walnuts, blond raisins and little white chocolate stars
- and for a more funky childish twist: chocolate coated popping candies (Heston Blumenthal’s) and little white chocolate stars
Yes, I know, as you may have already noticed from previous posts, I love stars :-)
But back to our mendiants: they are really quick to make, they make lovely edible gifts for Christmas and you can get your children involved in decorating them.
- • 100 grams quality chocolate
- • Dried nuts, dried fruits or any other small toppings (I used walnuts, almonds, raisins, chocolate coated popping candies, white chocolate stars)
- Melt the chocolate “au bain marie”, which means… Break your chocolate into pieces, put it into a bowl and place the bowl in a saucepan of boiling water. Carefully stir the chocolate until it’s completely melted (it only takes a couple of minutes) and take the bowl away from the pan.
- Lay a sheet of parchment paper onto a tray. Spoon some chocolate onto the sheet creating little discs (6 to 8) and gently tap the tray on the work surface so as you get wider more regular chocolate discs.
- Decorate each chocolate disc with your small toppings.
- Leave your mendiants to cool down until the chocolate is hard again (about an hour) and gently remove from the parchment paper with a spatula/turner or similar.
*The literal translation for mendiant is beggar. **Information source: Wikipedia.