I was in the grocery store this past week when I heard one excited shopper say to another, “Only four more Saturdays until Christmas!!” The other shopper was not as excited to hear this news but I was because that means it’s time to make Christmas goodies!!
I love giving gifts from my kitchen. Some years it’s jars of canned jams and jellies, others years it’s big batches of cookies, but this year it’s going to be (!!!!spoiler alert!!!!) lots of chocolate goodies.
These little chocolate jems are called mendiants and they make the perfect holiday gift. Mendiants are a traditional French treat that is made during the Christmas season. Originally, they were made with chocolate studded with nuts and dried fruits that represented the four monastic orders, and each ingredient represented the colors of the monastic robes. Historically, the four mendiants were represented by raisins, hazelnuts, figs and almonds – but my version uses up a little more of the dried nut and fruit rainbow.
These little chocolate treats are not only delicious but really easy to make. I rummaged around my pantry and came up with all these fun toppings: pecans, candied orange zest, candied ginger, dried blueberries, dates, cashews, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries, and almonds. And then it was time to get to work!
These chocolate jems only take two steps – One, take your favorite (and best quality) chocolate, melt it, and scoop little spoonfuls onto some waxed paper, swirling them into disks with the back of your spoon.
And two – top each disk with dried fruit and nuts. You can keep to tradition with the four toppings mentioned above, or make each one special and different and just your own creation with whatever toppings make you happy.
It’s just that easy! Once the chocolate has hardened you can box or bag up the disks and give them away – making your loved ones holiday season even more merry and bright!
from the cookbook Chocolate
makes about 25 candies
4 ounces best quality dark chocolate
1/4 cup dried fruit
1/4 cup nuts
2 ounces candied orange zest
Place a sheet of waxed paper on a marble slab, or other cold, smooth surface. Melt the chocolate in a microwave oven or in abowl over hot water.
Place a teaspoon of melted chocolate on the sheet and spread it out with the back of a spoon to form a disk. Make several at a time so that the chocolate does not cool before you have finished.
Place a piece of dried fruit, a nut and a small strip of candied orange zest on each disk and leave to cool completely.
The mendicants are ready when they lift off of the paper easily.