One of the best decisions we ever made, a few years ago, was when the adults in our family came to the conclusion that it was time to change the way we give Christmas presents. We opted to set a modest and approximate price limit and decided that the presents we would give would either be home-made or vintage (meaning from a charity shop!). Not only did this get rid of any stress, it’s also been fun and less consumerist. Is there such a word?!

With this in mind, I decided that this year I would make mendiants au chocolat. A mendiant is a small chocolate disc topped with pieces of candied fruits and nuts. However, if you look in a dictionary you will find the translation for mendiant is ‘beggar’.

The original chocolate mendiants have different toppings to represent the colours of the monastic robes of the four major orders of the Roman Catholic Church – raisins for the Dominicans, hazelnuts for the Augustinians, dried figs for the Franciscans and almonds for the Carmelites.

Mendiants au chocolat are traditionally one of the thirteen desserts of Christmas, enjoyed in Provence. The thirteen desserts relate to Jesus and his twelve apostles at the Last Supper. As tradition goes, there must be at least thirteen sweets available and they are all served together.

My mendiants will be a selection of dark, milk and white chocolate. However, I decided to make a ‘tester’ or taster pack with dark chocolate. I love dark chocolate! mendiants

I started with 100g dark chocolate which I melted in a bowl placed over a saucepan of boiling water. Alternatively, you could use a microwave.

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Next, I placed a silicone sheet over a baking tray. You could use grease proof paper or baking parchment. Spoon enough chocolate to create a small disc and then it’s time to decorate with nuts, ginger, raisins, dried apricots, mini smarties – whatever you fancy or happen to have in the cupboard.mendiants3

Leave to cool for about an hour – if you can wait! Enjoy!

There should have been a photo of the finished articles, displayed artistically on an appropriate plate, but they disappeared before I had time to focus!

If you want to find out more, have a look at a much more professional blog at

http://www.croque-maman.com/mendiants/

Or for a video clip:

http://www.marmiton.org/recettes/recette_mendiants_19802.aspx