The Christmas season is traditionally filled with delicious goodies and treats. If you have never made or had mendiants, then you are in for such a wonderful treat.
These mendiants are just as beautiful as they are delicious. And the flavor combinations are endless. Sweet, tart, sour, salty, citrusy, nutty…the flavors are as bold or as subtle as you want them to be.
What are Mendiants?
Mendiants are little chocolate disks topped with nuts and dried fruit. They are traditionally sold in France during the Christmas season, but there is no reason why they can’t be a tradition where you live too!
They make the perfect holiday gift for friends and neighbors because they look like something you could buy at a high-end chocolate shop.
The good news is that it will cost you far less to make them than what you would pay at a gourmet chocolate shop. And you can customize them to your personal preferences, which is always a bonus.
I have always loved everything French! Maybe it has to do with my French roots. We have traced our French family roots back to 270 AD, which is amazing.
Ever since I was a teenager, I wanted to learn French, visit Paris, and become a pastry chef. I feel like someone somewhere in my French heritage must have passed their passion for baking on through generations and generations until it reached me.
And I am grateful, because food is one of the things that brings me the most joy in life! Enough about me being a Francophile.
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Couverture Vs. Compound Chocolate for Mendiants
For the best results, use couverture chocolate. Don’t be afraid to take a stab at tempering! It takes some patience and practice, but you can do it!
What is couverture chocolate? Couverture chocolate has a higher percentage of cocoa butter than compound chocolate, which means it has to be tempered. If you don’t temper it, the chocolate will have white streaks of dull cocoa butter.
The mendiants also may not set up at all, leaving you with a puddle of chocolate that won’t harden.
Compound chocolate is much easier to work with as it just requires melting, portioning, and freezing. Between the two types of chocolate, couverture will always provide the best results, but compound chocolate is still very good.
How to Pick Mendiant Garnishes
As a general rule, stay away from fresh fruits when making mendiants. Fresh fruits can become juice, turn brown, or change in texture over time.
Instead, use freeze dried fruits, candied fruits, fresh zest from citrus fruits, chopped nuts, dried fruits, and flaked sea salt or fleur de sel.
How to Temper Chocolate
- Fill a medium pot with 2 inches of water and bring to a light simmer on the stove.
- Place 1 3/4 pounds of couverture chocolate in a glass or metal bowl that will fit on top of the pot. The bowl should not be so small that its bottom touches the water in the pot.
- Melt chocolate and bring to 115-118 degrees F.
- Remove from double boiler and add a few chocolate callets(chips) to the chocolate and stir. Smear chocolate on sides of bowl and stir back in until repeatedly until chocolate cools to 82 degrees F.
- Place bowl over simmering water and bring temperature to 89 degrees.
- Remove from pot and dip a spoon in the chocolate. Allow the spoon to sit on the counter for 2-3 minutes. If the chocolate beings to firm up and look shiny, then it has been tempered properly.
- Scoop the chocolate onto parchment paper, and top with nuts, dried fruit, crushed candy canes, etc.
- Allow mendiants to dry completely before storing or wrapping for gifts.
Tips for Making Mendiants
- For ease, use a half tablespoon cookie scoop to portion the chocolates. Once you have scooped chocolate and put it on the parchment, use the back of the scooper to gently smooth the chocolate out into a circle. Chocolates can be between 1 1/2 and 3 inches wide.
- After smoothing out 3-4 chocolate circles, top with garnishes. Couverture chocolate dries quite fast, so work quickly! They dry shiny if they have been tempered correctly as well.
- For compound chocolate, do between 7-10 chocolates at a time. Put them in the freezer after adding garnishes. They should still be melty when they go into the freezer. Freeze for about 5 minutes, and they will have a beautiful shine and snap.
Recommended Baking Supplies
- You’ll need a good thermometer, such as Infrared thermometer or a Thermopen.
- A half tablespoon cookie scoop is my favorite tool for making mendiants. It is easier than eyeing it if you want all of the mendiants to be the same size and thickness.
- Parchment releases the chocolates easily and is quick to clean up. You can also use silpat, but parchment won’t leave patterns or lines on the bottoms of your chocolates like silpat.
- And of course, patience! I won’t lie, tempering takes some time to bring the temperature up, down, and then up…and then you have to maintain the temperature. But you can do it! No one ever succeeded who didn’t try.
- 2 lb couverture chocolate (semi-sweet or dark)
- **alternative** compound chocolate of any kind, see alternative method
- Candied citrus peel
- Almonds, pecans, walnuts, etc.
- Lime zest
- Dried fruit (cranberries, blueberries, etc.)
- Candied ginger
- Coconut flakes
- Freeze dried raspberries
- Flaked sea salt
- Temper 1.75 pounds of couverture chocolate in a tempering machine or in a double boiler. For a double boiler, bring water to a simmer in a medium sized pot over medium high heat. Reduce heat to medium low and place a glass or metal bowl on the pot; the bowl should not touch the water. Add your chocolate and slowly melt until chocolate reaches 115-118 degrees F.
- Remove bowl from pot and immediately begin cooling to 82 F. Add a few couverture chocolate chips and stir to melt. This will cool the chocolate down slowly. Smear the chocolate up on the sides of the bowl and bring it back to the center. Repeat this process until the chocolate cools to 82 F.
- You can also put the bowl of chocolate over an ice bath for 3-5 seconds at a time, and then remove it and stir to bring the temperature down quicker.
- When chocolate reaches 82 F, heat the chocolate on double boiler briefly to bring chocolate up to 89 F. Do NOT go over 89 F because this can ruin the temper. If the chocolate reaches 90 F, it may still be okay, but try to stay right at the 89 F mark.
- Remove from heat and coat the back of a spoon to see if the chocolate begins to harden quickly with a nice shine. If the chocolate has streaks and is dull, check the temperature of the chocolate. This could be an indication that the chocolate did not quite reach 89 degrees or the temperature went over. If the streaks still persist, start the tempering process over to fix the issue.
- Using a teaspoon cooking scoop, scoop the chocolate out and carefully dollop onto parchment paper. Use the back of the cookie scooper to swirl the chocolate into smooth, round disks. Do 4 to 6 disks at a time, and top with nuts, dried fruit and sea salt if desired.
- Do not portion out more than 6 disks at a time because the chocolate begins to set and harden quickly, so the toppings need to be added within a minute or two.
- Let Mendiants dry completely and package to give to friends and family! Eat a few while you are at it too- they are divine.
- Put one pound of compound chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. Heat chocolate for 1 minute, stir, and repeat until chocolate is half melted.
- Reduce microwave segments to 30 seconds at this point so the chocolate does not get burned or scorched. Burned chocolate seizes and is unusable.
- Once chocolate is melted, used scooper and portion chocolate onto parchment as instructions explain above.
- Work quickly to do between 10 and 20 chocolates with toppings, and put in freezer for 3-5 minutes. Compound chocolate will not have a nice shine without the extreme cold. If you let the chocolate dry at room temperature, your chocolates will be dull, may have streaks, and won’t have as nice of a texture.
This is a Baker Street Society original recipe
Keywords: mendiants, french chocolate, Christmas goodies, dark chocolate mendiants, mendiants francais