Thursday, 20 January 2011


The word 'mendiant' comes from the French word for 'beggar' or 'mendicament'. These little beggars are disks of dark, milk or white chocolate topped with a selection of mixed nuts, dried fruit and seeds. They are also sometimes called 'chocolate bark'. I thought I would have a go at making some as a hostess gift for a dinner party I am going to tomorrow evening. I always think homemade gifts are nice to receive: the fact that someone has gone to the trouble to actually make something special, rather than nip down to M&S for a box of chocs. Sometimes, I take a freshly-baked loaf of bread or foccaccia, still warm from the oven. Or a box of chocolate macaroons or amaretti biscuits. I will never forget Nigella, on one of her TV programmes, making 'honeycomb' (like the inside of Crunchie bars) as a hostess gift, and then gobbling most of it in the taxi on the way to her friend's house.

This recipe will make 20-25 small mendiants. And they should be small - think petit fours to have with coffee.  

250g of dark, white or milk chocolate
150g of mixed nuts, seeds and dried fruits of your choice (e.g. flaked, toasted almonds, pistachios, crystallised ginger, crystallised violets/rose petals, candied orange peel)

Break the chocolate into small pieces and melt gently in a bain-marie. Stir from time to time to keep it smooth. Chop the nuts and fruits. Cover 2 large baking sheets with baking parchment, and using a tablespoon, spoon the melted chocolate onto the parchment, making 20-25 fairly thin rounds. Sprinkle with fruit and nuts as you go along. Refrigerate the mendiants until set, then peel off the parchment. They will keep for 4-5 days in an airtight container - but they won't last that long in my house!

COOK'S NOTE: I melted the chocolate in the microwave - Nigella's method - but beware if using white chocolate as the low cocoa content means it is liable to catch and burn. I ended up chucking an entire bar of melted Green & Black's white chocolate down the sink on the first attempt. Otherwise, these are dead easy to make!

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