Tempering chocolate is one of those things that freaks me out.
Not the kind of freak-me-out that spiders induce–you know, the screaming, running, jumping kind–but rather, the kind that looms large on the horizon. The kind that chips aways at my brain, promising disaster, wasted pounds of ingredients, time, and mountains of frustration. The kind that I have always wanted to attempt, but always approached with such trepidation and nerves, that I have avoided it for years now.
The other day, I decided to go for it. It’s one of my goals of the year that I can now check off my list. Not that my list is long and/or difficult, but it feels like an accomplishment nonetheless. Tempering the chocolate gives the finished candies stability, an even, satiny appearance, and delightful snap when broken. I found an approachable technique on Martha Stewart’s website that worked really well for me. Instead of using the microwave–mine is in an awkward area of my kitchen–I used the double boiler method. The heating pad trick is genius and instantly set my mind at ease, knowing there would be some insurance for keeping my painstaking efforts at temperature. Majorly big sigh.
These little gems are simplistic in composition. A disk of chocolate studded with fruits and nuts. Mendiants are a French confection, generally found around Christmas, but with Easter around the corner, I thought these would make a wonderful, adult-like treat in lieu of (or addition to!) chocolate eggs and bunnies.
Technique found on Martha Stewart
Since the ingredient list here is simple, I would encourage using your favorite chocolate for these, as well as quality ingredients for nestling. You could certainly make these without tempering the chocolate, though you may find that you need to refrigerate to keep the candies hard.
1 pound good quality chocolate–I used Callebaut
assorted nuts, fruits, salt for topping–I used blanched/toasted almonds, toasted hazelnuts, toasted coconut, candied orange peel (recipe here), and smoked sea salt
Cover a heating pad in a clean dish towel and set pad to lowest setting. Using a sharp knife, shave the chocolate. Prepare two baking sheets with parchment or silicone liners.
In a heatproof glass bowl set over a pan of simmering water, melt 2/3 of the chocolate while stirring, until the chocolate registers 120F on an instant read thermometer.
Remove from heat and stir in remaining chocolate–I did this gradually–stirring, moving the mixture up the sides of the bowl and back down into the mixture until the temperature reads between 86-89F. To test the chocolate, drizzle a small amount onto a stainless steal surface–the chocolate should harden into a matte finish in about 5 minutes. Place the bowl on the heating pad and working quickly spoon level tablespoons full of chocolate onto lined baking sheets. Allow the chocolate to begin to set before studding with desired fruits, nuts, etc. Once completely set, chocolates can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 month.