Pastry chef Paola Velez uses the technique to make her recipe for Tropical Mendiants on this week’s episode of Pastries with Paola.

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Tempering chocolate can be tricky, and if you've never done it at home before, this week's episode of Pastries with Paola has you covered. Paola uses the technique while making mendiants—a French confection that involves a chocolate disk topped with dried fruit and nuts—to help stabilize the chocolate and give it a glossy finish. She explains that she got started in the pastry industry working with Jacques Torres, and she'll be sharing some tips she learned today—including tempering chocolate in the microwave. Once the chocolate is tempered and piped into disks on a baking sheet, she tops them with tropical fruit, nuts, and more for an elegant, simple dessert.

Read on to find out how to make the Tropical Mendiants and follow along with the video below.

Temper. Your. Chocolate.

Paola uses chocolate fèves for the mendiants, but you can also use disks or bars. She grabs Valrhona Strawberry Inspiration in the video and places some of it in a microwave-safe bowl, microwaving it in 30 second intervals (use high heat) and mixing in between with a rubber spatula. Once the chocolate is halfway melted, stir it with the spatula and use the residual heat to melt any remaining pieces.

At this point, stir the remaining chocolate into the bowl to help the chocolate crystalize and drop the temperature. For white chocolate or cocoa butter-based chocolate like the one Paola uses in the video, she notes that you'll want the temperature to drop to 79°F—the recently added fèves will not completely melt.

Paola pops the chocolate back in the microwave in five-second intervals, stirring in between each time until the temperature is in the range of 79°F to 82°F—again, this temperature range is for white chocolate, and temperature ranges for other kinds of chocolate can be found in the recipe. The resulting chocolate should be smooth and melted down.

Pipe and Top

To see if your chocolate is properly tempered, dip the tip of a knife in it and refrigerate the knife for two to three minutes. The chocolate should come out of the fridge set and shiny, and snap when broken. 

Now, for the mendiants—get the tempered chocolate in a piping bag, cut off the tip, and pipe little one-inch rounds onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, four at a time. Tap the baking sheet on the counter so the chocolate rounds flatten out into 1.5- to two-inch rounds. Decorate the first four rounds with toppings, and then repeat for the remaining chocolate. Paola uses several different combinations—dried papaya, dried mango, sunflower seeds, poppy seeds, and cashews; dried sour cherries, dried golden berries, pepitas, and toasted coconut; and finally, almonds and dried cranberries.

mendicants topped with dried fruit, seeds, and nuts
Credit: Farrah Skeiky

Chill

After you've added the toppings to all of your mendiants, transfer the baking sheet to your refrigerator for 10 minutes so they have time to set. While she waits, Paola demonstrates how to "fake temper" chocolate when you're short on time (for decorating, not for making mendiants), and make a quick piping bag using parchment paper, too. 

Enjoy

Once the mendiants have set, they're ready to eat. The best part? You can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to three weeks.

"This two-to-three bites of chocolate mendiant is gonna blow your mind," Paola says.

Get the Recipe: Tropical Mendiants