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Saturday, September 6, 2014

F for France ~ Mendiants au Chocolat

Event: BM #44  
Choice of country: French Republic
Capital City: Paris
Official Language: French

I would like to visit Paris one day and leisurely explore the city. Technically I have set my foot in the city several times over the years, as I usually catch my connecting flight to India from there. I am always in a hurry to reach India to meet my loved ones instead of breaking off my journey and so couldn't visit the city yet. Hopefully I will make it during my next visit. 
Besides, my son is studying French at school and would love to learn more about that country. We wanted to send him on a student exchange program to Paris during last summer but couldn't do so because of dietary restrictions. As part of the program, he would have spent his summer in France, with a sponsoring French family learning about their language, culture and traditions. While we would have done the same here in US, welcoming a French student to our home. At the last moment, I got cold feet to send him alone and besides being a vegetarian, there was the issue of food. I promised myself at that moment that he would get an extensive tour of the country. In fact, not only him but every one of us. In the mean time, we are set to enjoy some French food at home. I prepared a French treat for us called "mendiants au chocolat"

A mendiant is a traditional French confection that was usually made during Christmas. It is a chocolate disk studded with dry fruits and nuts and is very easy and quick to put together. They were traditionally meant to represent the four monastic orders of middle ages in Western Europe -  Dominicans (or Jacobins as they were called in France), Augustinians, Franciscans and Carmelites. These monastic orders were mendicant orders, mendicant coming from a Latin word meaning "to beg". These monks renounced every worldly possession and were bound by a vow of poverty. They depended upon charity / begging for their livelihood.

Each of the dry fruits and nuts traditionally used stood for the color of the monastic robes they wore - Raisin for Dominicans, hazelnut for the Augustinians, dried fig for Franciscans and almond for Carmelites. The modern versions have moved away from the traditional combination and today, one can use their choice of dry fruits, nuts, fruit peels, seeds, coconut flakes and so on. I guess you got the idea. Adorn the chocolate dollops with your favorite toppings or any odds or bits of nuts / dry fruit you want to use up from your pantry. Besides no need to wait until Christmas to enjoy these delightful treats.

Making mendiants is surprisingly simple. Basically, chocolate is melted by double boiler method and about tbsp. sized melted chocolate is dropped as dollops on a foil / parchment paper lined cookie sheet. They are then decorated with toppings and are refrigerated until they are set.  

I suddenly realized at some point that it is a French recipe name and possibly shouldn't be pronounced like an English word. I had even seen recipe titles like "Recette de Mendiants aux fruits secs et au chocolat" for mendiants and thought the one I chose is short and sweet. My son explained me that the long title just means "a recipe for mendiants with dry fruits and chocolate". Phew. Anyone wondering how to say "Mendiants au chocolat"? 
Chocolat is of course "shoh-koh-lah" meaning chocolate.
Au is pronounced as an English 'o' and means 'with' in the cooking context.
And for mendiants, check it here. I am having hard time to write it even though I learnt how to say it from my son. It is said with a nasal voice and it goes like "moan-dyon"

Ingredients to make about a dozen:
Dark chocolate / white chocolate / chocolate chips (I used 1 cup chopped chocolate pieces)
Assortment of dry fruits and nuts of your choice

* Avoid chocolate coming in contact with water at any point of time during the preparation. Keep your work station, pan in which you are melting chocolate and spatula completely dry.
* Line a cookie sheet with foil / parchment paper or use a silicon mat.
* Chop the chocolate into small bits. If using chocolate in large quantity, do it in batches. 
* Keep your toppings ready.

*  Use a sauce pan and a metal / glass bowl that fits snugly over the top of that pan. Fill the sauce pan with water such that the quantity of water should provide heat but not touch the base of the bowl in which chocolate is going to be melted. 
* Put the sauce pan with water over a low heat and place the chocolate bowl over it. Melt it over low heat, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula.
* Drop a tbsp sized melted chocolate on the prepared cooking sheet. Gently shape the chocolate into a disc using the back of the spoon. Repeat the steps quickly until you have made about 4 discs. Decorate them with your choice of toppings.
* Again repeat the steps doing about 4 discs before decorating, to avoid getting chocolate cold quickly.
* Let cool and refrigerate them until they are set. Once set they peel off easily.


Varadas Kitchen said...

Nicely written post. A lot of information about the dish. The chocolate mendiants look so delicate and yummy

Srivalli said...

Wow I know my kids would simply love this!..very sinful dessert!

Manjula Bharath said...

Omg drooling here literally :) mendiants au chocolate is just killing me, parcel me some dear :) looks too preety and surely an addictive one with nuts :)

Priya Suresh said...

Wish i get a huge box of this mediants au chocolat, we love it to the core. You nailed them prefectly Suma.

Usha said...

Interesting read about the mendiants au chocolat and I still can't pronounce it right.. :)

Interesting recipe and the mendiants looks colorful and inviting with all those nuts on top of it.

Harini-Jaya R said...

Wow! That sounds so simple yet so gorgeous and complex, what with the naming :)

Sapana Behl said...

Omg , i would love to try hem now , so tempting !

Pavani N said...

Those mendiants look like work of art with all the dry fruit. I'm sure they must have tasted delicious. These will be great as Christmas gifts. Thanks for sharing.

Kalyani said...

definitely making this - a fuss free choco snack... with al the dry fruit I have at home, this is gonna be made v v soon ! thanks for bringing different flavours from across the world :-)

vaishali sabnani said...

Ah I love these..made them last year for Diwali..somehow never got around posting..
I love the way you have explained in detail.

Chef Mireille said...

what a treat for chocolate lovers

Priya Srinivasan said...

Wish I could take and eat them straight off that screen! ! They are way too tempting!!

Gayathri Kumar said...

I never try to pronounce any French word because I know that I will be doing it wrong. These chocolate discs look so addictive. My daughter would love this...

Archana Potdar said...

Haha I love the intro. Even I avoid the pronunciation of French words I cannot get my Indian tongue to twist the words right. ;D
Love the chocolate disks and you can guess for once i will have a lot of help to make these.