From Jennifer Yee at Aureole
Mendiants are a French chocolate candy. These are featured on a petit four tray that is served to guests at the restaurant.
1. Temper some 70% dark chocolate.
2. Fill your chocolate mold (a mold with medium size rectangles is perfect) with chocolate. Make sure any excess chocolate falls back into the bowl. When the mold is full, tap it with a palette or metal scraper to release any air bubbles, and scrap off any excess chocolate on top and sides of the mold back into the bowl.
3. Immediately top the chocolate with whatever fruits and nuts you wish. A few granules of salt, green California pistachios, candied ginger (use only one or two pieces because it’s strong), pieces of dried apricot, and a couple of dried cherries each work nicely.
4. When you’ve filled the mold, settle the nuts and fruit by tapping the mold on the table a few times.
5. When the chocolate has hardened, unmold the chocolates and enjoy!
When melted chocolate returns to solid form the cocoa butter in the chocolate forms a crystal structure. The cool thing about cocoa butter is that the crystal structure they take on depends on the temperature at which they are formed.
If the chocolate is allowed to cool on its own, the crystals of fat will be loose, resulting in a chocolate that is dull in appearance, soft & malleable, and greasy to the touch. This loose crystalline structure has a slightly lower melting point than tempered chocolate crystals.
If instead, while cooling, the chocolate is kept at 88°F (31°C), the loose crystal structure will not form (88°F is above the formation point of the loose crystals). At this temperature the cocoa butter actually forms a dense crystalline structure. Holding the chocolate at this temperature and stirring will allow a whole bunch of these stable crystal structures to form providing a lot of seed crystals to form in the chocolate. When the chocolate is finally allowed to fully cool, if there are enough stable seed crystals, then the chocolate will harden into a very stable hard chocolate with a slight sheen, snap when broken, and will keep for months at cool room temperature.
Tempering using the Seed Method (as described in The Professional Chef) is easiest. Since almost all the chocolate that is sold is already tempered, you can use a piece of already tempered chocolate as a plentiful source of seed crystals.
1. Melt the chocolate in a double boiler while stirring to ensure uniform temperature.
2. Once the chocolate has fully melted and reached a temperature of over 105°F (41°C), remove it from the heat. At this temperature, all the crystals, loose or stable, should be melted.
3. Add a piece of un-melted chocolate to provide the seed crystals. This piece can be as big as 2 ounces (if you're melting a sizeable amount of chocolate) or can be chopped up into a few smaller pieces.
4. Stir until the chocolate's temperature enters the tempering range, 88-90°F (31-32°C). The chocolate should be kept at this temperature until used.
Specific Tempering Temperatures
Depending on the cocoa butter content of the chocolate and introduction of other ingredients, the tempering temperature of chocolate varies. Harold McGee's Book, “On Food and Cooking,” provides these values for the three broad categories of chocolate:
Type of Chocolate - Tempering Temperature
Dark (no milk content) - 88-90°F (31-32°C)
Milk - 86-88°F (30-31°C)
White - 80-82°F (27-28°C)
Note: although white chocolate does not contain any cacao solids, it is still subject to the same tempering procedures since it is made of cocoa butter.
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