Recipe: Mendiants Pistache et Doigts de Fée (Pistachio-Chocolate Bonbons and Chocolate Dipped Coconut Meringues)
Techniques: Tempering, Meringue
This week I decided to stick with the ‘Chocolate Desserts and Candies’ section. So it’s more confectionery I’m afraid. The processes were really simple this week, but making the items look attractive was not so easy.
I chose these particular recipes as I was trying to use up leftovers and I thought I could get them both completed in an evening. Annoyingly I still have things like work, cooking dinner/packed lunches, housework and laundry to get on with, which really eats into my baking time. So I’ll admit it, this week I wanted something reasonably hassle-free.
A mendiant is a French confectionery made from a disc of chocolate studded with nuts and or dried fruit. The confectionery represents the four Mendicant Orders of the Dominicans, Augustinians, Franciscans and Carmelites. A mendicant order is a religious community which relies solely on charity for their livelihood, living in relative poverty just as Jesus did, believing this brings them closer to God.
These chocolate discs are usually given at Christmas and the four items that stud the top traditionally represent the robes of the four monastic orders. Raisins for the Dominicans, hazelnuts for the Augustines, dried fig for the Franciscans and almonds for the Carmelites.
Nowadays pretty much anything can be added as a topping to the mendiants, but they are still generally topped off in groups of four.
I began with the pistachios, these needed to be mixed with egg white and sugar before being baked in the oven for 8mins to crisp up.
The pistachios are then left to dry and I set about tempering my chocolate. Yes more tempering, I know I keep banging on about it, but it really makes a difference to the end product if you temper your chocolate. It also meant I got to use my Thermapen. This is my third food thermometer and it came really highly recommended by a number of TV chefs.
I can say that although it was quite expensive, it’s certainly worth the money. It’s instant-read and so well made, I’m a big fan. So after I had tempered my chocolate, I covered part of my worktop with cling film and spooned blobs of chocolate on top, these were then studded with the sugar coated pistachios and left to set.
The meringues were a basic French meringue, made by mixing sugar and egg white. I had a huge glut of egg whites in the freezer from some of the previous recipes I’ve made. I can confirm that they freeze really well.
A while ago, I saw a tip on-line that suggested pouring the egg whites into an ice cube tray and freezing them so that you can then tip the frozen egg white cubes into a bag and defrost them when necessary. I thought this was a great idea so I gave it a try.
My one piece of advice…DON’T!
The egg whites were impossible to separate across the tray and one white filled up much more than one hole in the tray. This was an incredibly messy job. Then when the egg whites were frozen, I couldn’t remove them from the ice cube tray, no amount of tapping/whacking or crying would get them to pop out.
So my advice, buy some small sandwich/freezer bags, sit the bag inside a glass, pulling the sides over the edge of the glass and pour in the egg white and tie a knot in the end. Either freeze them individually or in groups and write on the bag how many whites are included and the date of when you froze them. They can typically last up to six months. When you defrost them, you can select them in date order and thaw overnight in the fridge.
If you want to know how much egg white to include in a recipe, the average weight of an egg white from a large egg weighs around 30-35g.
Into my meringue I had to add shredded coconut and icing sugar. I couldn’t find shredded coconut, so I ended up using dessicated. The recipe said I needed to sift the coconut and sugar into my meringue. I couldn’t get the coconut through the sieve and I assumed shredded coconut would be even more coarse. So I just sifted the icing sugar and tipped in the coconut. It mixed in pretty evenly.
Piping these out was quite difficult though, partly because of the coconut and also because of the sheer volume of fingers that had to be piped. My quantity of meringues was much higher than the book said the recipe would yield, but the size looked to be about right, so I just continued on with the piping.
The poorly piped meringues were sprinkled with more coconut with instructions to bake for 3 hours at 90°C. I found that my meringues only needed 2 hours at this temperature, by which time they were dry, crispy and colourless. Just what I was looking for.
The last step for my coconut delights was a dunking in yet more tempered chocolate. The idea behind the design was that you dunk the coconut meringue halfway into the chocolate and then stick it to another meringue that has been dunked at the other end.
The quantity of chocolate called for in the recipe wasn’t really enough though and the bowl I had used was too shallow. I had to transfer the chocolate to another bowl and with such a small amount, I still struggled to coat half the meringue. So they didn’t look as uniformed as I would like.
So those are the finished articles, if anyone would like the recipes for the coconut meringues or the mendiants please let me know either in the comments below or by using the contact page and I’ll get something added to the site.
The next chapter in the book is holiday and seasonal bakes. If there’s something summery I’ll give it a go, otherwise I’ll be saving this chapter until later in the year and I shall move on to the wonderful Macarons.
Thanks for reading.