French chocolate mendiants are simply chocolate disks topped with nuts and dried fruits. An easy and delicious decoration for chocolate cakes, Easter or Christmas holiday bakes and perfect for making macaron hats. Read on why they are called mendiants, how to pronounce them plus discover the recipe is so easy to make at home.
This recipe was originally published on 6 April 2012 but the text and photos have been updated with a new printable recipe card.
Expensive Price in Paris Boutiques
If any of you have walked around the inviting chocolate shops and patisseries around Paris, you may have spotted these. French Chocolate Mendiants are delicious disks of chocolate covered in colourful dried fruits and nuts. In many high-end chocolate shops, alas, they come at an expensive price. This is why we love to make them at home – what’s more, they are so much fun to make with kids.
Read on for the story behind them but in the meantime, I think they make perfect hats to top macarons, cupcakes, cookies – or any of your favourite sweet treats for some fun. In this case, add a few mini Easter eggs and you have the perfect Easter Bonnet!
What are Mendiants in English?
Mendiant literally means ‘beggar’ in French. More popular today, Mendiants is the name given to popular chocolate confectionary (confiserie) in France. They’re simple disks of chocolate (dark, milk or white) with at least four kinds of dried fruit and nuts.
Why Beggar? Because each chocolate disk, or mendiant (pronounced mon-dee-ong), represents the robe colours of four mendicant monastic orders from the Middle Ages.
Mendiants are great for serving as mini bites or mignardises with coffee after dinner but are normally seen for special occasions such as Christmas. But since we’re talking chocolate – let’s make them for Easter… or for any time of year!
What’s a Traditional Mendiant Recipe?
According to French tradition, the traditional recipe for mendiants usually include:
- raisins stand for the Augustinians;
- hazelnuts for the Carmelites;
- dried figs for the Franciscans;, and
- almonds are for the Dominicans.
However, over time things have become totally out of hand. Confectioners are adding orange peel, pistachio nuts, candied ginger and now I’ve added goji berries soaked in Kirsch (only because I forgot to buy some cranberries) and mini chocolate praline Easter eggs or even French chocolate fish!
Use also as decoration for this gluten free Lemon Easter Cake.
Ideas for Toppings
Here I used dark chocolate and coarse praline chocolate, but mendiants can be made with plain, milk or white chocolate.
Use different nuts (I personally like to toast mine as it adds more depth of flavour) and dried fruits to add a contrast in textures and flavours.
I also added broken Mikado sticks (do you have these in America?) and homemade zig-zag sticks (just by melting chocolate and zig-zagging it on baking paper, then peeling off when set) for a nest and mini Easter eggs.
How to Peel Off Chocolate Disks
As you can see, I’ve just used baking parchment to spoon the melted chocolate and – using the back of a spoon – form circles directly onto the sheet without any guide. There’s no need! They don’t need to be absolutely perfect: the spoon actually does make them into circles themselves.
Over time, however, I did eventually find a use for my silicone macaron mat (my non-sponsored review), as I don’t need fancy gadgets to make homemade macarons (tips are all in my books). Using the macaron mat with it’s groovy circles, by spooning the chocolate into them, when I peel them off once set the chocolate is absolutely perfect.
Do I need to Temper Chocolate for Mendiants?
Normally, professional chocolatiers temper their chocolate to sell Mendiants. The reason being, they last so much longer and are prettier.
As I’m just making them at home with the idea of eating them quickly over the next few days, I honestly haven’t needed to. Melt the chocolate in a Bain-Marie (in a glass bowl over simmering water) and spoon out on to a baking sheet. As the chocolate takes a good 30 minutes to set, you have enough time to enjoy topping them.
As you can see, it’s not even a recipe: just melt good quality chocolate and plonk on the dried fruits and (toasted) nuts of your choice!
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How to Store Mendiants
Store mendiants in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 3 days. However, if you have tempered the chocolate, they can last for longer. As our family usually eats them far too quickly, this has never been a problem to store them for long!
Here I topped chocolate macarons with French chocolate mendiants for an Easter bonnet look.
French Chocolate Mendiants (disks with fruit and nuts)
- 200 g (7oz) bittersweet chocolate (at least 64% cacao)
- handful each golden sultanas &/or raisins
- dried cranberries or goji berries
- toasted flaked almonds, almonds or pine nuts
- pistachio nuts
- candied orange peel (optional)
- Line a perfectly flat baking sheet with baking paper (or silicone mat - even better, a macaron mat will set them perfectly into round shapes).
- Break up the chocolate in a glass bowl and place over a pan of simmering water over a gentle heat (bain-marie) until the chocolate has melted.
- Using a spoon, pour the melted chocolate onto the baking paper, pressing each one down with the back of the spoon to make a circle (don't worry if they are a bit messy - it will set well later!)
- Gradually decorate with the fruit and nuts using different colours and textures for toppings. Don’t worry about the chocolate hardening; you will have enough time to enjoy dressing each disk before it hardens.
- Leave to cool for about 30 minutes. When set, remove each mendiant carefully from the sheet with your fingers or a palette knife.