French Chocolate Mendiants Recipe

I have always loved the idea of giving out food gifts. As with any handmade present, it seems a very personal way to show you care, and that you love the person enough to spend a few hours making something nice for them.

Last year, I didn’t plan for it early enough to make it happen: Christmas is always a busy period, and we had just moved into our apartment a month before. But this year, I thought about it well in advance, took care of the necessary planning and shopping and set out to make French chocolate mendiants to give out to my family on Christmas day.

Chocolate mendiants are part of the French Christmas tradition

Chocolate mendiants are small disks of chocolate garnished with assorted toppings. This is in reference to the Christmas tradition in Provence, where people end the celebratory dinner with Les 13 Desserts de Noël. However decadent this sounds, it is actually a pretty ascetic assortment of thirteen (as in Jesus plus his twelve apostles) simple desserts: black and white nougat, olive oil bread, various nuts, and dried or fresh fruit.

Among these are the four mendiants, or beggars, symbolizing four mendicant monastic orders and the color of their robes : raisins for the Dominicans, hazelnuts for the Augustins, dried figs for the Franciscans, and almonds for the Carmelites.

Mini Cookbook of French Tarts

This is the origin of the food term “mendiant”, more generally given to food preparations that involve dried fruits and nuts: cakes, ice cream or here, chocolate mendiants.

Each of them, pretty and delicious, offers a new combination of sweetness and crunch. They’re also easy and fun to make, if you enjoy working with small intricate colorful things like I do.

And don’t miss the other kind of chocolate bite I made also: French chocolate truffles!

Have you tried this? Share your pics on Instagram!

Please tag your pictures with #cnzrecipes. I'll share my favorites!

Mendiants Recipe

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 4 hours

Makes about 80.

Mendiants Recipe


  • 250 grams (9 ounces) high-quality chocolate (I use Manjari 64% couverture chocolate)
  • Assorted nuts, toasted: pistachios, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts, pralines
  • Assorted dried fruit: raisins, blueberries, cranberries, prunes, crystallized ginger, crystallized orange rind
  • Other toppings : big grains of chouquette sugar, small chunks of Petit Beurre (crispy butter cookies by LU), fleur de sel
  • Special equipment:
  • A feuille guitare, i.e. a sheet of thick food-safe plastic that makes it easy to work with melted chocolate. Use parchment paper if unavailable


  1. Melt the chocolate in a double-boiler: place a small saucepan of hot water over low heat, set the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over it, and allow it to melt gently, stirring with a spoon.
  2. Place your feuille guitare on a flat and cold surface and take the bowl of chocolate off the heat. Drop small spoonfuls of chocolate on the sheet, using the back of the spoon to form little circles, about 4cm (1 1/2 inches) across.
  3. Place 2 to 3 topping elements (nut, fruit, and/or other) on the circle. Try to create nice contrasting effects with the color and texture and taste of the toppings. Work a few mendiants at a time, forming six circles of chocolate then decorating them before spooning in new circles.
  4. When a batch is complete, place the sheet in a cool place for the chocolate to set, then pluck the mendiants carefully from the sheet.

French Chocolate Mendiants

  • Wow, these do sound easy! I also quite like the idea of putting a white chocolate button on top of a dark chocolate disc; I imagine the edges of the white chocolate button would just start to melt and bleed into the dark, but that the centre would stay pretty much in tact.

    I must try this as soon as possible!

  • Sylvie

    A te lire, c’est tout simple, ces délicieux mendiants ! Mais quel régal !

    Le plastique pour transparent, ce n’est pas du plastique alimentaire : c’est peut-être du poison !

  • Jackie – these are indeed very simple to make, and I love that you can let your creativity go wild and include whatever goodies you have in your baking pantry, because – let’s face it – anything works with chocolate!

    Maman – je suis ravie qu’ils te plaisent, c’est effectivement aussi simple que ça! Et tu as tout à fait raison pour les transparents, j’ai corrigé…

  • I just had a thought…I really like the combination of salty and sweet, and one of my favourite snacks is chocolate covered pretzels. In the US, you can get those tiny, thin pretzel sticks — I bet half of one of those on a disc of chocolate would be great. In the UK, I’ll just have to break regular pretzels into bits and try that.

    Your blog gives me such good — but calorie-laden — ideas, Clotilde! Thanks!

  • Jackie – We have pretzel sticks here too! But a small regular pretzel would look really cute, and I’m sure it would taste great. I also like the mix of sweet and salty, that’s why I put some fleur de sel on some of my mendiants…

  • I made these today!

    I was very tempted to top these with those bacon-flavoured maize snack crisps you can get, but that seemed a little obscene. Maybe next time! I used white chocolate buttons instead, and they were a hit.

    Thanks, Clotilde!

  • Jackie – you are quite welcome, I’m always thrilled to have my suggestions used, and I love the twists you always apply! Yours look lovely and dramatic!

  • WOW! Chocolate Heaven! and I thought my sister was the chocolate advocate of the known world.

  • Jacob – well, I think your sister and I should meet, and just share the chocolate! :)

  • nathvim

    oui c’est exactement ce que je vais faire avec mes élèves cet après-midi, j’ai acheté tout le matériel…
    très chouette site

  • Cam

    Sounds delightful! I made something similar for my friends this Christmas and found that using a silicon mat made working with chocolate very easy. The chocolate popped right off the mat. In the absence of a feuille guitare, it might be easier to use than parchment paper.

  • smin

    ok, maybe it was just me, but I just tried rolling the ganache into balls and the surface melted just like that. help anyone???

  • N.Ngor

    Hi Clotilde and all of you, far and near:

    Besides using feuille quitare and parchment paper, you may want to spoon the chocolate into the paper cup (for cup cake) and decorate it with your choice nuts? For a person don’t know how to bake (or better still – never operate an oven in my entire life before, not going to tell you how many years, you will know my age… ok, ok, ok, 43 years), i consider myself very smart.

    Thank you for the wonderful blog.

  • Clinton Davidson

    At the risk of being a grammar nag, “carefully” would work better than “cautiously”:

    • Not a nag at all, Clinton, I sincerely appreciate corrections, and am always looking to improve. (Though I will note that your correction is more about vocabulary than grammar in this particular instance. ;D) I am glad you’ve clarified the difference between the two words and have corrected the post.

Get the newsletter

Receive FREE email updates with all the latest recipes, plus exclusive inspiration and Paris tips. You can also choose to be notified when a new post is published.

View the latest edition of the newsletter.