I have always loved the idea of giving out food gifts. As with any handmade present, it seems a very personal way to show you care, and that you love the person enough to spend a few hours making something nice for them. Last year, I didn’t plan for it early enough to make it happen : Christmas is always a busy period, and we had just moved into our apartment a month before. But this year, I thought about it well in advance, took care of the necessary planning and shopping and set out to make two kinds of chocolate bites to give out to my family on Christmas day.
The first kind of chocolate bites I made are called Mendiants, little bits of goodies atop disks of chocolate.
The Christmas tradition in Provence (South-East of France) is to end the celebratory dinner with “les 13 desserts de Noël“. However decadent this may sound, it is actually a pretty ascetic assortment of thirteen (as in Jesus and his twelve apostles) simple desserts : black and white nougat, olive oil bread, various nuts, and dried or fresh fruit. Among these are the four “mendiants” (beggars), symbolizing four mendicant monastic orders and the color of their robes : raisins for the Dominicans, hazelnuts for the Augustins, dried figs for the Franciscans, and almonds for the Carmelites.
This is the origin of the name “mendiant”, more generally given to food preparations that involve dried fruits and nuts : cakes, ice cream or, in my case, chocolate bites.
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