French chocolate mendiants

French chocolate mendiants

It was late last year that we (reluctantly) came around to the fact that we wouldn’t be traveling for quite some time. Unfortunately, with a kitchen renovation (we have walls!) and a new business on the horizon, we knew we wouldn’t have the extra funds to put toward one of the things we love most: international travel. It’s been a really weird thing to accept because travel has kind of been our way of life since Thom first surprised me with that trip to Paris in 2010 – I thought we were going to spend a week in Montreal when, in reality, we were going to spend two weeks in Paris. It was then that he ignited my love for travel; a love so massive that it consumes me on a regular basis.

I think that was his plan all along.

Fast forward to earlier this year when Eurostar reached out because they wanted to take me on an all expenses paid trip to London and Paris. It didn’t take me long to commit (ok, actually it did) (but only because I thought leaving during the renovation was a really bad idea) because I love Eurostar and the fact that you can get from London to Paris in just a little over two hours. I also love that traveling via train means you don’t have to deal with any airport shenanigans. And as someone who has grown to really dislike airports, being able to walk into a train station and board within 30 minutes – well, that’s a really nice change of pace. Thom and I used Eurostar when we traveled through Europe in 2013, only then we were riding standard (which is still super nice, by the way), and this time our group was hanging in business premier (to Paris) + standard premier (back to London). Both of which were outta-this-world nice. As in, swanky train station lounge, delicious on-board meals, and ALL YOU CAN DRINK BOOZE-nice. In case you couldn’t tell: I’m really happy I didn’t say no.

But enough about the train because you probably want to know about the trip. Well. I learned how to make real deal scones with Caroline Hope. IN HER NOTTING HILL FLAT. So that was cool. Ate potato chips in bed at 2:30AM. Averaged three coffees a day. Made new friends. Walked through Paris in the rain. London, too. Made Ashley drink all my wine (I will never learn to love it, guys). Went on a secret food tour in Paris. Bought a copper pot at E.Dehillerin. Regretted not buying more copper pots at E.Dehillerin. Hung out with bloggers and probably spent a total of 20 minutes talking about our blogs.. the entire trip (blog talk killllls me). Showed Bev and Ashley my favorite parts of Paris (The big tower! Rue Mouffetard! Tuileries!) and found so much joy in watching them experience Paris for the very first time. Attended a cooking demo at Spring where I was served vegetables that were plated so beautifully I could hardly bring myself to stab them with a fork and put them in my face. Ate too many french fries at Café des 2 Moulins (AKA the Amélie cafe). Had a private breakfast at Ladurée, where they served me assorted fruits doused in vanilla syrup. Decided more things need to be doused in vanilla syrup (though probably not fruit). Took Eurostar back to London and had one hell of a last hoorah with the entire gang at The Mayflower (still dreaming about that falafel plate) (and the lentil-stuffed entrée). And then we all went our separate ways and there may have been a mini group hug in the hotel hallway at 2AM. And I may have teared up a little because WHAT A TRIP.

Lucky for me, I wound up extending my stay and getting some extra time in London, with my man. We proceeded to do all our favorite things, like visit the Natural History Museum and The Old Operating Theatre and Borough Market (just to name a few). And we got to stay with our Salar de Uyuni pals and meet up with our beloved friend Maja, so all in all it was a trip for the books. Filled with new people and new experiences, but also chock-full of familiar favorites. I’ve got well over a thousand photos to sort through so, in the meantime, I’m going to eat my weight in mendiants and pretend I’m back in Europe because being back home? The struggle is real, people (but thankfully the struggle to fit back into my pants is not).

PS – Big thanks to Eurostar and the entire team (you know who you are) who spent countless hours planning and executing the trip. I’ve got quite a few overseas adventures under my belt and this one certainly went down as one of my top three. High fives and big hugs, all around.
PPS – Because I’m all about posting travel recaps in chronological order, the “guides” to Paris + London will happen once I post about our trip to India. So give me a couple of months. ;) And because it was my third time to Paris and second to London, I’ve got two pretty awesome rundowns of all my favorite things in each city. And I can’t wait to share them with you.

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Notes: You don’t have to temper your chocolate, but I highly recommend it as tempered chocolate is superior to untempered chocolate (especially when making chocolate confections). Also, please (pleaaase) make sure your chocolate is good quality/has not bloomed (bloomed chocolate will not temper properly). If you’re not tempering your chocolate, you can use any number of chocolate bars you’d like, but if you’re tempering, you need to use at least 12 ounces (some sources say a pound, but I didn’t have any issues with slightly less). Feel free to use any assortment of toppings you’d like, but know that traditional mendiants are made with nuts and dried fruit – so go that route if you want something closer to the real thing (hazelnuts and dried apricots make for a delicious pairing, by the way).

MY FAVORITE COMBINATIONS
Almonds + cacao nibs + sea salt flakes
Crushed coffee beans + cacao nibs (or flaked coconut)
Dehydrated raspberries (crushed) + flaked coconut
Dry roasted peanuts (chopped) + flaked coconut + sea salt flakes
An assortment of roughly chopped nuts + sea salt flakes
And if you want to go crazy: pretzel pieces, potato chips, sprinkles, etc.

FRENCH CHOCOLATE MENDIANTS

4 bars (360g) good quality dark chocolate, evenly chopped
Nuts, cacao nibs, flaked coconut, freeze dried fruit, etc.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment; set aside. Temper your chocolate in a food processor, the traditional way, or without a thermometer (I do the latter method as my candy thermometer drives me wild) (that and the chocolatier we met in London tempers his chocolate this way – so if it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for us). Once your chocolate is tempered, transfer it to a small pot with a spouted lip – this will ensure you pour circular disks (if you don’t care about wobbly-shaped mendiants, feel free to shape them with a spoon). Slowly pour the chocolate onto the prepared baking sheet, in 1 1/2-2″ circles. I like to pour 8-10 at a time then decorate them before they harden (it gets easier as you go, I promise). Top with an assortment of your favorite toppings. Depending on the temperature of your house, the mendiants may take up to an hour to set. Once set, transfer to an air tight container and store at room temperature. Mediants will keep for weeks on weeks, but I doubt they’ll last that long.

* If your chocolate starts to harden before you finish pouring all the mendiants, simply return it to the double boiler and heat for 15-20 seconds, stirring constantly until the chocolate has remelted.

Yield: 35-40 1 1/2-2″ mendiants

French chocolate mendiants

18 Comments

  • Reply Chrissy 8 April 2016 at 7:33 AM

    Ahhh. The most jealous. Sounds like the best and most wonderful time!

  • Reply Fernando @ Eating With Your Hands 8 April 2016 at 7:34 AM

    I really love to travel with train, especially when airports seem to be more and more stressful each year. The Eurostar is up there with the best of them though, the LDN – Paris route is the best experience I’ve had on a train!

  • Reply Madeline 8 April 2016 at 7:52 AM

    Ahh I am so jealous of your trip, but so happy you were able to go on it!! International travel is HUGE to me, and my husband and I have somewhat committed to trying to have one big trip a year where we travel internationally. So far we’ve kept it up, but I”m sure it won’t always be that way with finances and things! But! I love people who love to travel and I hope you get to go on many more trips soon. And also, these mendiants are absolutely gorgeous, Ashlae!

  • Reply Rebecca 8 April 2016 at 8:36 AM

    Sounds like a fabulous trip! And man are those some perfect chocolate circles?!?

  • Reply hannah 8 April 2016 at 8:43 AM

    I’m hoping to embark on my first European adventure this fall or next spring – I can’t wait to read your guides :-) I’ve used your Denver list multiple times (I travel there for work) and am always delighted (Green Russell! Pinche!), especially because finding good bars in new cities is a draggggggg. Yelp = no help. These chocolates look gorgeous as well. xo

  • Reply Libby 8 April 2016 at 9:07 AM

    Oh my gosh. What glorious treats! This would make such a lovely gift or even a party. Have everyone bring their favorite toppin’s and you all mix and match to make your own! How fun.

  • Reply Dawn | KitchenTravels 8 April 2016 at 11:03 AM

    Sounds like an amazing trip. Lucky you! I am curious whether you had any trouble finding vegan options on the train or at the places you visited. One day soon, I’d love to take a trip to Paris, but I wonder how veg-friendly French chefs will be. It would be lovely to be able to have something besides fruit and salad – French pastries, perhaps? :)

  • Reply Erica 8 April 2016 at 11:45 AM

    I can’t believe you made these in your little tiny makeshift kitchen, you are amazing. I always really enjoy reading your travel posts, so I hope you get even more opportunities this year to travel! I hope your kitchen reno is going well too. Have a great weekend!

  • Reply Kathryn 8 April 2016 at 1:52 PM

    I just found your blog a few months back, and I absolutely LOVE it! I love you style of writing, as well as all the delicious food photos!!

    I was thrilled to read this post, as my husband and I are about to embark on a backpacking trip across Europe. This post made me even more excited!

    Kathryn

  • Reply genevieve @ gratitude & greens 8 April 2016 at 3:50 PM

    I love hearing about your travels- can’t wait for all the travel posts to come! Also, these chocolate mendiants sound like the perfect cure for my afternoon cravings right now <3

  • Reply Ashlyn // Dollop Of Yum 8 April 2016 at 7:52 PM

    Your travel adventures sound fantastic and I can’t wait for the posts to come! These mendiants are probably some of the most beautiful chocolates I’ve ever seen. Truly mouthwatering! :)

  • Reply Abby | Lace & Lilacs 9 April 2016 at 9:05 AM

    I cannot. wait. to hear more about your trip, Ashlae… Paris is my favoritest, and I can’t wait to see your London photographs.

    BTW, these images are perfection. <3 xx

  • Reply Lindsay 11 April 2016 at 4:04 AM

    Sounds like you’ve had the most sensational time!! I’m so pleased. I completely agree with you about the eurostar! SO much more relaxing than the airport! These little chocolate mendiants look delightful! Lovely post as usual!

  • Reply Katrina 11 April 2016 at 11:57 AM

    Making treats that seem special like this when you can’t travel is definitely a good plan! Really love the variety you’ve got here!

  • Reply Annaliese 11 April 2016 at 11:58 PM

    Simplicity is sometimes the best-and love your topping ideas. I may have to try my hand at these…that is, before I simply eat the chocolate bars!

  • Reply Bev Weidner 15 April 2016 at 8:50 PM

    GASH. I miss you. The end.

  • Reply Emily 21 April 2016 at 8:47 PM

    Oh my, these are some of the most gorgeous chocolates EVER. You could open your own shop! These must be so much fun to make and eat. On my list. :)

  • Reply Anna Wright 8 October 2016 at 5:55 AM

    How exciting for you! I love travel of any kind and Europe is so exciting. These chocolate mendiants look absolutely perfect. Just what I’m craving right now. Love the colorful toppings.

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