A mendiant is a classic French chocolate candy, usually coin-shaped or circular. I always find myself making these little chocolate morsels at Christmastime, and as I’m doing so I wonder why I don’t make them throughout the year. This is a simple way to make an elegant chocolate treat. The dried fruits pair beautifully with the sweetness and bitterness of milk chocolate, elevating its complex flavors. Pistachios add a beautiful soft crunch and color. Once you’ve mastered tempering chocolate, you’ll find these are really fun to make in your kitchen. Taking a box of these gorgeous morsels to a gathering or sending them as a gift is a sure way to make people happy.
- Yield: 15 Pieces
- 15 whole natural, green pistachios, shelled
- 8 whole natural, raw hazelnuts, halved
- 1¼ lb (500 g) 33% to 40% milk chocolate
- 30 dried sour cherries
- 15 strips candied ginger, 1 in (2.5 cm) long
- 1 sheet gold leaf (optional)
- 12-by-16-in (30-by-40-cm) sheet of plastic acetate or parchment paper
- Preheat the oven to 200°F (95°C). Spread the pistachios and hazelnuts on a baking sheet and roast for approximately 10 minutes. The pistachios should remain naturally green in color, and all the nuts will dry out and have a bit more crunch.
- Temper the milk chocolate (see page 150). Line a baking sheet with the acetate. Fit a piping bag with a #3 plain piping tip and close the mouth of the piping bag just above the tip using a binder clip, so that when you pour the tempered chocolate into the piping bag, it won’t come out. Place all the chocolate into the piping bag. Remove the binder clip and immediately pipe small dollops of milk chocolate, 1 in (2.5 cm) in diameter, onto the acetate until you run out of chocolate. Pick up the baking sheet and gently tap it against a counter to flatten the chocolate into thin disks, about 1½ in (4 cm) in diameter. Work quickly to put one piece of candied ginger, two sour cherries, a pistachio, and half a hazelnut on top of each chocolate disk before it sets and while it still has a lot of give to it. Press gently onto each addition so that it will be held in the chocolate. Place a small piece of gold leaf onto an edge of each chocolate, if desired.
- Set the baking sheet in a cool, dry place and allow the chocolate to crystallize for a minimum of 6 hours, preferably overnight. If you’re working in a very hot kitchen, above 86°F (30°C), and the chocolate won’t crystallize, place it in the refrigerator for 15 minutes (do this only if necessary; the chocolate may get condensation on it, and you’ll lose your glossy finish), and then place at room temperature.
- Once the chocolate is completely crystallized, remove the pieces from the acetate sheet and store them in a cool, dry place for up to 1 month.