Friday, December 23, 2011
A mendiant is a traditional French confection composed of a chocolate disk studded with nuts and dried fruits representing the four mendicant or monastic orders of the Dominicans, Augustinians, Franciscans and Carmelites. Well, or it simply means indulgence to me!
If you need a simple last minute dessert to complete your Holiday Meal with a sweet ending, this is it! This is a quick and easy treat to make and unbelievably decadent. I used roasted pistachios, dried cranberries, roasted almond, and candied orange peels as toppings. You can simply use any dried fruit and nuts you prefer. I love these toppings because they add so much vibrant Holiday colors to the mendiants. The different textures and flavor just complement each other really well.
This time, I used some Scharffen Berger 70% Cocoa bittersweet chocolate as the base. If this is not pure indulgence, I don’t know what is. Use a sharp serrated knife for chopping to make your life much easier in the process. I chopped about one pound of chocolate (minus whatever amount that mysteriously disappeared) and started the tempering process.
If you want to learn how to temper chocolate, check out Anita’s site Dessert First for the detail instructions. My mendiants came out nice and shiny, thanks to Anita’s informative post. I’ll do a summery in my recipe below.
Beside the dried fruit and nuts, I also sprinkled some Fleur de Sel on top to finish these mendiants off. The saltiness really compliments the dark chocolate nicely and rounds out the flavor. The Fleur de Sel also adds a subtle crunch while the smooth and silky chocolate melts in my mouth. hm….
Fleur de Sel ("Flower of salt" in French) is a hand-harvested sea salt collected by workers who scrape only the top layer of salt before it sinks to the bottom of large salt pans. They are a little pricey compared to your daily kosher salt or table salt, but it worth every penny. Besides, you’re going to need just a small amount in a batch of mediants.
If you haven’t decided on your Holiday desserts, or want to add a quick and easy treat to your menu, give this simple recipe a try. These mendiants will make a lovely addition to your packaged home made gifts as well. I think Santa will prefer these over the chocolate chip cookies too!
Mendiant with Fleur de Sel (Printable Recipe)
1 pound bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1 cup dried fruits and nuts (I used dried cranberries, candied orange peels, roasted pistachios and roasted silver almonds)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon Fleur de Sel
Melt 3/4 of the chocolate and espresso powder in a double boiler or metal bowl set over a saucepan of 1-inch simmering water. Please make sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Stir with a rubber spatula until chocolate is melted. Do not let chocolate exceed 120 degree F.
Removed bowl from heat and stir in the remaining of the chocolate to cool down and thickened. When the temperature of the chocolate drops to 82 degree F, place the bowl over the pot of simmering water again until it reaches 88 degree F. At this point, do not let the temperature of the chocolate gets over 91 degree F. Otherwise, will need to start the tempering process over.
Drop a small spoonful of melted chocolate onto silpat or parchment lined baking sheet. Gently top melted chocolate rounds with dried fruit and nuts. When the chocolate started to cool down a bit, sprinkle Fleur de Sel on top.
Place baking sheet in refrigerator until mendiants are set, about 15 to 20 minutes. Store in airtight container.