A mendiant is a small chocolate disk topped with pieces of candied fruits and nuts. Jacques Torres likes to use pistachios, almonds, walnut halves, a piece of candied pineapple and a piece of candied papaya. You can vary this recipe to accommodate your own design. These elegant chocolate candies are quite beautiful when made with roasted nuts caramelized in corn syrup. Torres likes to display them side by side on a silver tray. It's best to make only 10 to 15 at a time, or the chocolate will set before you have a chance to add the nuts and candied fruit.
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Place the chopped nuts and corn syrup in a 2-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan and place over low heat to liquefy the corn syrup. You only want to heat the mixture until the corn syrup is thin enough to coat the nuts evenly; this will take 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Using a large slotted spoon, allow the excess corn syrup to drain as you scoop the coated nuts onto a parchment paper-covered baking sheet. Be sure to spread them in an even layer so they will roast evenly in the oven.
Bake the nuts until they are evenly caramelized, 15 to 20 minutes. To test for doneness, you can break a nut in half and check to see if it is light brown on the inside. Keep an eye on the nuts because the sugar will burn very soon after it caramelizes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and place on a wire rack. When the nuts are completely cooled, break apart any that are clustered together.
Fill a cornet half full with the tempered bittersweet chocolate. Pipe a chocolate circle 1 1/2 inches in diameter onto a parchment paper-covered baking sheet. If you do not have a cornet, you can use a spoon; drop a spoonful of the chocolate onto the parchment paper and spread it into a 1 1/2-inch round with the back of the spoon. In either case, keep the thickness of the round as even as possible. Makes about 10 rounds. Then, create your own design as you top each round with the roasted nuts and candied fruits. Work quickly, or the chocolate will set before you've accomplished this. If the nuts and fruit do not stick to the chocolate, lightly dip them in the bowl of tempered chocolate and "glue" them to the top of the disk. When you finish these, repeat the process until you have used all of the tempered chocolate, nuts, and candied fruits.
Set the mendiants aside to harden until ready to serve. Store the mendiants in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
Recipe courtesy of Dessert Circus, Extraordinary Desserts You Can Make At Home by Jacques Torres.
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