These mendiants are old school: you can decorate them to look bejewelled, with the jade of Sicilian pistachios, the ruby-red of dried cranberries and garnet-hued apricots. I can’t think of a prettier homemade present.
Mendiants with nuts and dried fruit
Typically, you would temper the chocolate, but I’ve added a drop of oil here to help keep it shiny. Be careful not to overheat the chocolate when you’re melting it, and resist the temptation to put the mendiants in the fridge: it may cause the chocolate to bloom (ie, go chalky).
Prep 10 min
Cook 5 min
Set 1 hr +
Keep 7 days
20g dried cranberries
20g dried apricots
200g dark chocolate (I use one that’s 72% cocoa solids)
10ml neutral oil
Roast the pistachios on a tray at 170C (150C fan)/325F/gas 3 for 10 minutes. Leave to cool, then chop into small pieces. Chop the cranberries and apricots into small pieces, too.
Break the chocolate into small pieces, put these in a heatproof bowl and melt, stirring frequently, either in short bursts in the microwave or in a bain-marie (ie, with the bowl set over, but not touching, a pan of simmering water).
Once the chocolate has very nearly melted, take it out of the microwave, or off the heat, and keep stirring – the residual heat will help to melt it completely. Stir in the oil and set aside for a few minutes.
Using a two-inch cookie cutter as a guide, draw rounds on a sheet of greaseproof paper, spacing them well apart. Turn the paper over and put it on a baking tray.
Spoon the melted chocolate on to the paper, using the stencil marks as a guide, then sprinkle the pistachios, cranberries and apricots all over the top. Leave the chocolate at room temperature to set, then peel off the paper and pack.