Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Mendiant Bark

Need a little last-minute holiday treat? Try this traditional French Christmas sweet that takes very little effort and time. Normally a mendiant is made as 1 1/2 inch disks of chocolate with a nut or two and a piece of dried fruit or two on top (also an easy option), but I made it into a big bar of chocolate that I broke into pieces after it hardened.

You can make this with dark chocolate, white chocolate, or any other kind of chocolate you can think of, and you can top it with any combination of dried fruits and nuts that you like. Here's my favorite version:

Mendiant Bark
12 oz. white chocolate (chips or a bar that you can cut up)
handful of dried cranberries
handful of dried apricots, diced small
a few pieces of crystalized ginger, diced small
handful of toasted sliced almonds
handful of toasted pecan bits
handful of pistachio meats

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave (no more than 30 seconds at a time, with good stirs in between) and pour out onto a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Spread as thin as you like, and proceed to sprinkle the fruits and nuts randomly and thickly over the chocolate. Crowd the toppings together and cover all open areas of chocolate so that every bite is sure to get some goodies. Make sure that all the fruits and nuts are pressed into the chocolate so that they do not fall off when you break the bark into individual pieces. Once the chocolate has hardened, use a large chef knife to break it into random-shaped pieces, or break it with your hands.

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