Mendiants are simply French chocolate disks topped with nuts and dried fruits.
Read on why they are called mendiants, how to pronounce them plus discover the recipe that is so easy to make at home.
An easy and delicious decoration for chocolate cakes, Easter or Christmas holiday bakes and perfect for making macaron hats.
Why are Mendiants so Expensive in Paris?
If any of you have walked around the inviting chocolate shops and patisseries in Paris, you may have spotted these mendiants - at a price.
French Chocolate Mendiants are delicious disks of good quality chocolate covered in colourful dried fruits and nuts. In many high-end chocolate shops, alas, they are expensive. They use top quality ingredients.
This is why we love to make them at home - what's more, they are so much fun to make with kids. Traditionally served at Christmas, they're seen in luxury chocolate shops at any time of year.
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 is the Meaning of the Word Mendiant?
Mendiant (pronounced mon-dee-ong) literally means 'beggar' in French.
More popular today, Mendiants is the name given to one of the most popular chocolate confectionaries (confiseries) in France. They're simple disks of chocolate (dark, milk or white) with at least four kinds of dried fruit and nuts.
Why the word for beggar? Because each chocolate disk, or mendiant, represents the historical 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!
I'm a mendiant mixed with melted white chocolate into the end of the bowl of dark chocolate
History of Chocolate Mendiants
So, according to French history, the traditional four mendicant monastic orders from the Middle Ages corresponds to their historical robe colours.
As a result, the mendiant recipe includes four traditional toppings to the chocolate disks:
- grey raisins stand for the Augustinians;
- brown hazelnuts for the Carmelites;
- purple dried figs for the Franciscans; and
- white almonds are for the Dominicans.
However, over time things have become a bit de-robed! Modern 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). In true French style at Easter, even French chocolate fish and mini praline eggs. See more topping ideas below.
How to Make French Chocolate Mendiants
Mendiants can be made with either plain (bittersweet) dark, milk or white chocolate.
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).
By using the macaron mat with it's raised, grooved circles, just spoon the melted chocolate into them, then peel them off once the chocolate is set.
Ideas for Mendiant Toppings
Top your mendiants with different nuts and dried fruits.
Nuts are best toasted either in a frying pan or under the grill for a couple of minutes to add depth of flavour. Dried fruits to add a contrast in textures and flavours.
- Use toasted walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios. During the festive season, add candied fruits such as orange and ginger, for example, or marrons glacés (candied chestnuts).
- 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.
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!
Mendiant Tip: just before finishing the last of the dark melted chocolate, add a little white chocolate and melt over the water bath then marble the 2 together to create a beautiful effect.
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See my short video how to make mendiants.
Here I topped chocolate macarons with French chocolate mendiants for an Easter bonnet look.
You could do the same by decorating cupcakes, brownies, banana muffins, chocolate mousse, etc. with them. Even easier, just devour them on their own.
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!
- 200 g (7oz/ 1¼ cups) bittersweet chocolate (at least 64% cacao)
- handful each raisins or golden sultanas
- dried figs finely chopped (cranberries or goji berries)
- toasted flaked almonds
- hazelnuts (or walnuts)
- 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 dried 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.
This recipe was originally published on 6 April 2012 but the text and photos have been updated with a new printable recipe card.
Reminded me when Ina Garten - Barefoot Contessa was in I think London at a candy shop and made these with a sucker stick. I have got to make these for the whole family. Thanks Jill
Well I hope you make these and tell me how you get on, Marilyn. No sticks needed, just like they're made here in France 🙂
Amazing idea and so yummy too.
These are almost too pretty to eat, Jill! Just as good as the ones I've seen in many European chocolate shops! We have a similar product (Pokky) to your Mikado sticks, here in the US. These would be a lovely gift any time of year!
Thanks Christina - I forgot to mention that I used 72% Tanzanian chocolate for these - so that in itself makes them intense. Good to know that you have these sticks too - Pokky sounds fun!
Sara @ Tried&Twisted
Your chocolate wafers are such a stroke of genius! They are like little crowns for such a regal cookie. Sounds delicious!
Thank you for sharing at the March of Macaron link party!
I just stumbled on this blog this morning...The Mendiants look so fantastic! As a newbie in baking macarons, (but not eating!), I have this dumb little question: how does the mendiant stick to the top of macaron? I would love to try this!
So glad you popped by le macaron blog. Just melt a bit of chocolate in the microwave and stick it on top of the macaron and hey presto!
wow this is so cute!!!
this is almost too beautiful to be eaten, they look perfect
Wow I learned something new today! How interesting and how beautifully decorated these macarons are. Simply gorgeous as always Jill. I would probably beg you for chocolate macarons too! =]
Tobias @ T and Tea Cake
Wow do I read 3 euros for one single mendiant? C'est absolu outrageux!
How fun that you added some mikado sticks, hehe. Don't know whether Americans know about them but Germans sure do. 😉
I'm completely new to your blog and am glad to have found you through your nice comment you left on Nami's blog!
Outrageous indeed, Tobias. But that's what's so motivating to DIY. I wouldn't normally do the Mikado sticks but it was an easy 'nest' option for the kids!
Sandra's Easy Cooking
Wow...wow..i can't get over saying wow:))) This is beautiful, Jill! I love how you made these and how cute they look! Great photo love..you did it again!!!!
Merci beaucoup, Sandra.
OMG Jill. These look amazing!!!
They are ridiculously easy, Ivy...
I found myself smiling as I read this post. How fun and creative these little macarons are! I bet you have every neighbor in town knocking at your door for some of your luscious creations. How nice to have The Art of Macarons down perfect where you can experiment with any flavor or do dad you feel like adding to them. I love it!
Not many neighbours knock since nobody knows I have a blog, hehee. 🙂
Maureen @ Orgasmic Chef
Every time I read your blog I want to live next door to you. You have the best life!
Those mendiants on the macarons look wonderful.
Maureen, just wait until the next blog post. You'll think twice about saying that... 😉
They look stunning and so gorgeous!
Thanks - simple but effective...
Jill have I told you lately that I love you. These are incredible. You rock my world.
You're a star, Kim. Together we make a rockstar, eh?
Jill, this is a true masterpiece! Happy Easter! 🙂
Hope you had yet another chocolat-athon!
Wow...for plain chocolate macarons, those are anything but plain!
Wow wow wow your mendiants are stunning! They have been on my must-make list for about a month and yours are so inspiring me to shake it up! Gorgeous! And yeah, you know, sometimes a perfect chocolate on chocolate mac is really the best. Beautiful for Easter!!
Thanks, Jamie. They're quicker to make than writing that list! 😉
Nami | Just One Cookbook
Hope you had a wonderful Easter Jill! These macarons with mediants (new vocab for me!) look so fancy! Mikado looks like Japanese Pocky... we have those (imported from Japan) in the US too, but mainly in Asian store. I love these special macarons! =)
Japanese Pocky? That sounds fun. Thanks so much, Nami.
You top yourself everytime Jill.
One is truly baffled by yr creativity.
Should you open a patisserie and give the Parisians the come-upence they deserve?
Do I spy a J-P Hevin turtle sitting atop a mendient or is this a mold you own..
You never cease to amaze with your gifts.
Och, you're too sweet, Carol. No, that's just a praline easter egg cut in half. Nothing fancy!
Love your mendiant adorned macarons! No doubt the kids did too! Happy Easter.
The kids loved them so much, Paula, they made even more this weekend.
Amy @ FragrantVanillaCake
Yum Jill! These sound delicious and so prefect for Easter! Your creations are always so beautiful, and these are no exception! Hope you are having a wonderful Easter weekend!
Thanks, Amy. Yes, a great weekend and hope you had the same fun for Easter!
Lovely, lovely macarons and mendiants! Happy Easter Jill x
Wishing you a fabulous Easter and many happy macarons, Jaime.
OK, now these are the macs that my family will fight over!!! Beautifully done...and I love your embellishments, too. A very, very happy Easter to you and your family, Jill!!! xoxo
Easter wishes to you too, Liz. Sounded like you have quite the celebratory weekend en famille! Enjoy.
These look amazing! I like how you added the toppings to amp up the flavor a little. While plain chocolate is good, it is the extra something that makes them more unique.
I have never had or seen these before, but obviously I have been missing out. Delicious post!
Missing out? Oh no, Tina. Make them. Quick! Wishing you and your family a wonderful Easter.
Marsha @ The Harried Cook
No macarons in Jill's freezer?! I never knew that was possible! Whenever I think of you, I imagine you are sipping on tea (with your pinky finger sticking out, nibbling away delicately at a pale pink macaron (rose & orange blossom - the best combination that I have never tasted!), with your husband and children sitting around the table doing the same thing (except Antoine's finger isn't pointing out - thank goodness!)...
These Mendiants are new to me, but I can imagine why they would be popular... my husband would totally love these! 🙂 You are an artist, my friend! They are just gorgeous - every single one of them! 🙂
I've never heard of paper fish for April Fool's but it sounds cute! 🙂 Beautiful post, Jill! 🙂
Marsha? I am baffled. Gosh, does it really come across like that? Good. Keep on thinking that way. I'll try and keep up with your wishes, as it does sound wonderful.
Enjoy your Easter and all the best to your family, my friend!
The Chocolate Priestess
Those look great! Very creative and simple too. Mendiants, I'll have to remember those.
Remember, eat and enjoy!
You are a temptress: an incredibly talented artist, but a temptress none-the-less. I don't want my husband to stumble across this amazing blog and discover that he married the wrong Jill....ha!!!
Oh my. That is a saucy-Cook comment, dare I say? Enjoy!
I am not familiar with mendiants, but those store window photos make me long for France! I can just picture one of those with hazelnuts--delicious.
Next time you're in France check them out. Although make them yourself and it's not far off!
Gosh, such beauties...believe me, if I hadn't brushed my teeth for the night I WOULD'VE MANAGED TO EAT THOSE!
And boy, your French gives me a flip-out!
Worth it, you're dazzling me with your smile! 🙂
Quoi? My French? But on ze blog eet ees non-existant! 😉
Wishing you a wonderful Easter, Thoma. Enjoy yourself.
Fantastic. Just flat-out gorgeous. You are quite the talent my friend. My wife would step over my croaked corpse to get her hands on these puppies.
Have a fab Easter.
Oh my, Laz. That's strong. Thanks Chef but stay well, ok? 😉
Enjoy your Easter too.
Oh my. You just paired chocolate and macarons. I might be in big trouble! 😉
Trouble? Don't worry. You're let off the hook. It's Easter! Enjoy, Kiri...
Mendiants have to rank up there with my favourite chocolates, simple as they are. I think I need to make a batch of these myself soon. Happy Happy Easter to you and the family Jill. May you be blessed with much chocolate!
I've had to make yet another batch today. OK, I'll confess - it was mainly the kids the made them. They are so easy but we had a lot of fun with them. A very Happy Easter to you too, Mardi.
Hester @ Alchemy in the Kitchen
Love the Easter bonnets you've put on these macs, Jill. Soooo pretty. They can parade right to my mouth. Happy Easter!
Hehe. Love it, Hester. Happy Easter to you too, my friend.
Emily @ Life on Food
These are beautiful. Sometimes all you really want is just plain old chocolate. I love the toppings though and I didn't know the story behind the Mendiants.
Well there you go. Nothing like a wee story - I kept it short, though 😉 Didn't want to eat into precious chocolate time! Have a wonderful Easter, Emily.
What a lovely story for the start of my Easter Holidays - great to be away from teaching for 2 weeks. Mendiants are new to my vocab. Interesting about the origin too. I want some NOW and it's only breakfast time.
Glad you're winding down for Easter and enjoying the break, Thomasina! Never thought of Mendiants for breakfast but why on earth not? It is Easter weekend 😉 Enjoy!