'Chocolate is for life, not just Easter', declares a sticker that I shared on social media recently. It summed up my thoughts perfectly, given that I'd visited our local village shopping centre that morning and was taken aback by what can only be described as an obscene quantity of Easter chocolates on sale.
Most of those packaged giant rabbits and eggs are made from poor standard "chocolate", so I prefer to make edible gifts at home from the best couverture I can afford, or (at a pinch) pay more for fine quality chocolate bunnies and eggs from a reputable producer.
I've been making these fruit and nut buttons for many years. My children used to gobble them down when they were little and still enjoy them to this day. They're perfect as Easter (and Christmas) gifts or simply as indulgent snacks. Research tells me that in France, this type of chocolate wafer confection is traditionally made with dried figs, raisins, almonds and hazelnuts. They are known as mendiants or mendicants and apparently each of the fruits and nuts represent the monastic orders of the Roman Catholic Church. Interesting.
I like to use hazelnuts, dried apricots, dried cranberries, pistachios and slivered almonds on mine. Dried or glacé cherries are tasty too, as are goji berries. The good thing about these little morsels is that they are so delicious that they don't last too long, so you really don't need to fiddle faddle and temper the chocolate. That said, of course you can temper the chocolate if you wish to do so. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't.
CHOCOLATE FRUIT AND NUT BUTTONS
400g dark couverture callets (Callebaut 65%)
30g slivered almonds, lightly toasted
25g hazelnuts, lightly toasted
40g dried cranberries
20g pistachio nuts
30g dried apricots, chopped
Combine the fruit and nuts in a bowl and set aside.
Place the chocolate buttons into a Pyrex bowl, which you will set over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Make sure the base of the bowl doesn't touch the water. Melt the chocolate slowly and stir it with a silicone spatula. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and wipe the base of the bowl dry with a tea towel (you don't want any water to get into the chocolate).
Working quickly, spoon even quantities of the melted chocolate into a non-stick or silicone macaron tray. Then sprinkle or arrange the fruit and nuts over the melted chocolate, before it sets. Once the chocolate buttons have set, store them in an airtight container. If you are making edible gifts, package the buttons in cellophane bags and tie with pretty ribbon. Makes 20 or more, dependent on the size of your macaron tray.
Tell me dear readers, what are your thoughts on Easter chocolates? Do you make edible gifts for the occasion?
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