Food & Travel

Chocolate mendiant

February 11, 2009

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Serves 12

Mendiant, a traditional French treat once associated with the monastic orders, is now a rustic mixture of chocolate, assorted nuts, and dried fruits. The result is a nutritious snack. If you use dark chocolate, serve this with liqueur after a meal. Chocolatier Joshua Needleman uses the nuts and fruits here, or adds apricots, dried cherries, dried cranberries, pistachios, peanuts, walnuts, or pecans. Ingredients should be room temperature; cold fruits or hot nuts will make the chocolate set too quickly.

2 ounces skinned hazelnuts
2 ounces skinned almonds
2 ounces dark or golden raisins
2 ounces candied orange rind, chopped
2 ounces candied lemon rind, chopped
1 pound dark or milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2teaspoon salt

1. Set the oven at 375 degrees. Have on hand a rimmed baking sheet. Line another baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. On the rimmed baking sheet, spread the hazelnuts and almonds. Roast them for 10 minutes, turning often, or until they are aromatic. Leave to cool completely.

3. Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the raisins with the orange and lemon rinds. Break the fruits apart, if necessary. When the nuts are cool, add them to the dried fruits.

4. In a bowl set over (but not touching) a saucepan half filled with water, melt 2/3 of the chocolate. Add the remaining chocolate a little at a time. Stir well until most of the chunks have melted. A few chunks are OK. Remove the bowl from the heat. Wipe the bottom dry.

5. Quickly stir the nut mixture and salt into the chocolate until the nuts and fruits are completely coated.

6. Immediately spread the mixture on the parchment paper, using an offset spatula to make a thickness that will allow the nuts to stick together when the chocolate hardens. Set the baking sheet aside for several hours to cool completely before breaking it into pieces. Store in a cool place (about 55 degrees; not the refrigerator).

Adapted from Chocolate Springs Cafe