A dark tale of sweet & savory


If Sunday afternoon had been a Grimm’s adventure this is what would have happened: A cunning sorceress (me) would have seduced a tall, dark-haired (read grey) and gullible man (my husband) into gathering some delicious fruits and nuts and bringing them to her house in the forest. She would have asked him to crack open all the nuts and almonds and in return she would promise to share with him the sinfully good chocolate mendiants she was planning to make. When the job was done and while melting the chocolate she would put on her best smile and offer the man a beautiful country bread tartine with melted raclette cheese, walnuts … and black radishes. The man would gayfully accept, never taking his eye of the chocolate pot on the stove. “What a treat” he would think, to be invited for this lovely meal and how he was looking forward to the irresistible mendiants – the whole forest was talking about them. Little would he know that black radishes can make the strongest men fall asleep and as soon as he had finished the bread with a bit of wine, he was off to dreamland. Then the devilishly cute and mischievous children of the sorceress would appear from the woodworks, help their mother make the mendiants and together they would feast on every last crumb of chocolates and sweets. The man would awake in the forest, feeling lost yet somewhat satisfied for it was a very good tartine. Then he would remember the mendiants he had been coveting and feel a little sad not having had any. But because we don’t want our tale to be too dark, and because this is rather nice sorceress, he would feel a little something in his coat pocket, two mendiants, one with fruits and nuts, the other with coconut flakes and pomegranates. He would feel a little cheated but he would have a big smile on his face.



My son Hudson and I were recently at the market. As usual we visited the stall of our good friends, the Aubert’s, my favorite organic farmers in Médoc. There was so much to choose from, gone are the tomatoes and plums but instead we have roots and radishes, turnips, parsnips and beets. A fellow client joined me in admiring the black radishes. “Aren’t they mysterious” I said. “Well, I suppose” he said “but I buy them because they make me go to sleep”. “I don’t like drugs and medicine so I use herbs instead. Black radishes are my drug of choice”. Afterwards he assured me he wasn’t joking, black radishes really make you sleep. Hudsons’s eyes and ears were on fire. He was completely enchanted by this. Over the weekend I caught him looking at the radishes with respect and admiration. He picked them up carefully, observed them, even sniffed them a little. This sleeping theory had to be tested, just not on him!



On Sunday I woke with an idea in my head. Mendiants! They’re such a French classic and my treat of choice when the weather gets colder. They are such an ideal mix of irresistible sweetness yet filled with goodness. My husband was kind enough to fetch me some fruits and nuts (and yes he did open them too as did the man in the adventure). It all looked so beautiful, like gems on the working table of a master jeweller, little raisin rubies, pearls of almonds, all of them ready to be inserted into a little masterpiece.


It was then that Hudson came to me “Mom, I think we should give daddy some of the radishes and see if he falls asleep” he said with a big cheeky smile. “Then we can have all the chocolate mendiants ourselves”. We did test the theory but unlike in the “Grimm’s Adventure”, the man didn’t fall asleep. He just wanted another tartine and then another, until he was so full he couldn’t have any mendiants. I suppose some people like savory and some like sweet.
I have to confess, I like it all!



(makes approximately about 15 mendiants)

230 g/ 8 ounces good-quality black chocolate
A small mix of pistachios, almonds, hazelnuts, dark & golden raisins, dried apricots, dried figs.

Break the chocolate in pieces and place in a heat-proof bowl. Melt the chocolate ‘au bain-marie’ – Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water on a low heat. Gently stir until the chocolate is glossy and melted. Take off the heat and set aside for a few minutes.

Prepare sheets of parchment paper on a flat surface or large tray.

Drop a small teaspoon of melted chocolate onto parchment paper, about 5 cm width. You want to create pretty little disks. It is preferable to drop about 6 to eight disks at a time, so you can have adequate time to place the toppings.

Decorate with almonds, apricots (or figs), raisins, and hazelnuts/ pistachios for classic mendiants. Then you can let your imagination run wild. I used pomegranate seeds and dried coconut for the other disks.

Leave the mendiants to set and harden for about 10 to fifteen minutes in a cool room. Gently lift them off the parchment paper and place on a serving plate.


Grilled Raclette tartines with black radish, walnuts and chives

This is a simple delicious snack, a mixture of wonderful flavours and very nutritious. I just love the combination of the rich melted cheese, the crunchy walnuts and radishes.

2 black radishes, sliced finely
2-3 slices of Raclette cheese (alternatively Cheddar or Gruyère) per slice of bread
A few sprigs of chives, finely chopped
A few walnut kernels, broken into pieces
A few slices of good quality rustic bread (pain de campagne, pain Poilâne)

Place 2-3 slices of Raclette cheese (depending on bread size) on top of sliced bread and place under the grill for 3 to 5 minutes, or until bubbly and golden. Place slices of black radish on top, sprinkle walnuts and chives. Serve immediately.


122 thoughts on “A dark tale of sweet & savory

  1. I love raclette cheese but have only had it in the typical Savoyard dish. I will definitely try your tartines, thanks for the idea!


  2. You make me want to get out my old Larousse Gastronomique and start making the Christmas goodies. When my aunt died, now two years ago, I not only inherited my grandmother’s but also my aunt’s recipes, cookie and other confectionery forms and also inherited the “chief sweets maker” hat of the family. Right now I feel like making lovely rich gingerbread. Don’t you love the way the whole kitchen smells when making these goodies? I do. 🙂 I showed my daughter Chloe your raclette and she said she wants to go live in the Alsace again. (We used to live there for months at a time) That’s her most favourite cheese in the world. Happily we can buy terrific raclette both here in Vancouver and in Oxford to satisfy her addiction. 🙂

    1. Bonsoir Veronica – aah I always love hearing of your worldly tales of food! This is the time to get happy and start making all sorts of treats! My kids love raclette, with potatoes, with viande de grisons, on tartines – so creamy and delicious! So you lived in Alsace? Lovely! I was just chatting to my Alsatian friend on Sunday and she was raving on about the Christmas spirit theren especially when it comes to treats and cakes! Bonne soirée, Mimix ps I have not forgotten the cassoulet recipe for you, promise tomorrow, promise 🙂

  3. Hello Mini, what wonderful tales you tell and glorious food you cook.
    The beautiful mendiants would make any christmas gathering complete and I am looking forward to making some with my children.
    Thank you for your inspiration in the kitchen, duck is now on of my families new loves.

    1. Bonsoir Rebecca! Thank you for such kind words! This is the time of the year to start making little treats, and I love preparing them as gifts for my friends and family, something made from the heart. This mendiants recipe is so easy to make, and a must with kids – those little hands are a necessity 🙂 Enjoy! Mimi x

  4. I purchased some delightful Mendiants on my recent visit to Paris and made sure to pack them in my suitcase and not my carry on luggage so I could share them with my family when I arrived home!…guaranteed there would have been a few missing over the course of an 8 hour flight! Thank you for the recipe- I will recreate these delicious sweets for the holidays! Beautiful stories, photos and food. I am enchanted and happy to meet others as equally delighted by beautiful ingredients as I am. Thank you 🙂

    1. Merci Brooke! How lovely to have brought home some mendiants from Paris! Now you can make them at home – they are so much fun to make, so rewarding! I am preparing lots of pretty boxes for future mendiants gifts – they are so classic and a sure bet to make someone happy! Mimi x

  5. Such an enchanting blog. I really enjoyed it. makes me feel cozy. Really love your picture and was wondering where you get your blouse. Looks wonderful.

    1. Merci beaucoup Mel! So happy to hear it makes you feel cozy 🙂 The outfit I am wearing is a little black dress by Erika Cavallini – we all need a little black dress to feel mischevious, right 🙂 ? Mimi x

  6. HONESTLY……you are gorgeous in your tales………..and so simple yet utterly breath taking!I cannot wait to try as we are hosting dessert in a couple of weeks for a progressive dinner feast!MIMI comes to the rescue!When is the cookbook coming out???Is HUDSON my child if you were to give up for adoption?The one I inquired about months ago?I have just posted MY BOYS on Vintage Hen House in PARIS……..I have a JAMES BOND type and a FOREST CREATURE with long hair!!!!!!XXX

    1. Bonsoir Contessa! You are always so full of spirit! I can just imagine your dinner feasts – now they must seriously ne a FEAST! The cookbook is coming out Fall 2014 – we are all so excited here at home, & we are all equally so impatient 🙂 Your blog will get a million hits tonight with your boys featured – watch out! 🙂 Mimix

  7. What a charming little adventure story, Mimi. I was so enchanted I nearly forgot I had to go pick up my husband!

    The mendiants look lovely. You’re right, the fruits and nuts do indeed look like jewels. Looks like my studio table upstairs 🙂

    I’m going to have to hunt down some black radishes. I love them. They’re so spicy! Sounds fantastic with the raclette.

    1. Thank you Amy! I hope your dinner party last time went well with your friends (the gougères?) 🙂 I can just imagine how lovely it must be to design jewelry – you are making beautiful creations everyday! Wishing you some lovely cooking! Mimi x

  8. I adore your posts, but this one is particularly beautiful. What a lovely tale, and your picture cradling black radishes made me giggle 🙂 I am looking forward to the few days I will be around Bordeaux/Medoc this December. I will be exceedingly happy if the scenery is half as beautiful as your (husband’s) pictures!

  9. Oh perfect! I was looking for Christmas candy inspiration that is still healthyish 😉 and these mendiants look gorgeous! Can’t wait to make them.

  10. A splendid tale, Mimi. 😉

    I would gladly take a plate of your flawless Mendiants over any double-stuffed, extra-whip, cake-pop, sugar glazed extravaganza that is spreading over pinterest.

    Simple is best, as you have so aptly shown. Can’t wait to share with my readers.

    1. Thank you Aimee! It’s so rewarding to eat such a treat and it’s healthy too! I know what you mean with the super/sweet/sugar/glaze confections – it’s way too sweet for me (and for my kids), however they are so fun to look at 🙂 Total eye-candy! I guess that’s what they are. Have a lovely day! Mimi x

  11. I do adore the fey quality of your stories, I feel as if I am falling under a spell reading them, and then wafted back to reality with the later more factual paragraphs & beautiful photos. Many thanks

  12. I was just reading to my children from my tome of Grimm’s and Andersen’s Fairy Tales, and marveling at how perfectly suited Madeleines would be on the table of the Sea King in the Little Mermaid (by Andersen). In fact, I wrote a post on it a few weeks ago. Your mendiants conjure up images from the tale of Hansel and Gretel (one of my favourites from the Brothers Grimm), though I like your fairy tale very much, too! There’s something so intoxicating about a pot of chocolate on the stove, isn’t there? It’s almost as if you could lose yourself in it – the smell, the colour, the sheen as you stir it round and round! I could go on and on 🙂 Funny how we connect food to literature, yet it seems so very appropriate, as they are both feasts for the senses in more ways than one, and complement each other so well. I must try to find some of those mysterious black radishes, as my husband could certainly use some help falling asleep now and then. Mimi, this was such a joy to read! The perfect way to end a crazy Monday! Have a lovely evening! -Rebecca

    1. Bonjour Rebecca! Reading fairy tales, or any enchanting tales is simply one of the greatest pleasures in life! When I go for long walks in the forest with the kids & the dogs, I imagine all these fantastic stories in my head. It’s all so enchanting, slightly frightening at times (when it gets dark!) and mostly beautiful! I hope the radish trick will work on your husband – the man at the market had me convinced! Let me know! And happy thanksgiving to you and your lovely family! Mimi x

  13. Bonjour Mimi,
    What a beautiful tale, I was so enchanted. Reading your stories makes me so happy and inspired. I would love to try the black radish, amazing sleeping theory. I can’t wait for your cooking book to come up, a real treasure. Best wishes xoxo

    1. Bonjour Rowaida! How are you? Probably preparing one of your beautiful feasts? Black radish are so incredibly healthy, and I also read that they are the perfect vegetable to eat after the holiday season to purify the body! I’m hooked! Have a lovely day, Mimi x

  14. Oh, Mimi! Once again, a truly lovely post! I can’t wait to make those mendiants! They look simply scrumptious!

    I have never heard of black radishes before . . . must find some seeds and try them in my garden next season!

    Thank you so much for all your lovely, lovely posts! And thanks to your hubby for his incredibly gorgeous photos!

    Will your book be available in the US when it comes out?

    1. Bonjoru Sherrill, Thank you for dropping by! I hope you will enjoy the mendiants – they are so lovely and simle to make. My cookbook is coming out Fall 2014 in the US – I hope you will enjoy it – we are all so excited about it! Mimi x

    1. Hello there! Yes, mendiants are one of these timeless old-fashioned, just how I like them. I think there’s nothing better than home-made gifts! I am preparing lots of pretty jars and boxes as we speak 🙂 Bonne journée, mimi x

  15. A cute tale, gorgeous pictures and pretty chocolates! Mendiants are a perfect treat for the holidays. Simple, yet refined and divine.



  16. Bonjour Mimi,
    Beautiful story that you’ve told us today for breakfast. Your husband really all he ate mendiants deserved, his photographic work deserves everything. Your family are a fantastic team!
    (I’ll tell you, in Catalogne the ‘Mendiants’ are called ‘Dessert Musician’ and are served with a sweet wine called Moscatel in antiquity ate musicians enlivened the festivities to regain strength between songs).
    Thank you for showing such wonders.

    1. Thanks Yasmina! How interesting they were called Dessert musician – they certainly fill you up with energy! I’ll keep an open eye for the moscatel wine – sounds divine! Mimi x

  17. Yummie!
    Mimi, what di you how long they will keep in a plastic sac as a little gift? Sunny frosty greetings, Aileen

  18. Mimi, I have to admit I’m like you: I love it all. Sweet or savoury, it doesn’t really matter, just as long as I can enjoy both.

    Mendiants are my favorite xmas present: every year I make them for my family and friends. It just became a tradition 🙂

    I love reading your lovely blog, your such an inspiration!



    Mimi,this is a great post; I love that photo your husband took of you….the “soceress!”

    Lovely meal my dear. You are just wonderful! Anita

  20. Mimi, I have a question. Here in the USA, we do not have “black chocolate.” What can I use in its place? Would bittersweet chocolate work? Anita

    1. Hi Anita, When I say black chocolate, I mean dark chocolate, for instance I use Nestlé Chocolat dessert Corsé 64% cocoa. It’s rich and dark with all the right deep flavours. I think bittersweet chocolate sounds very nice – so I would go for that if you ca’t find 60 or 65%. let me know! Mimi x

      1. Bonjour Mimi! Thank you for getting back to me! I’m late in coming back, but now I understand the type of chocolate! Yes, I can definitely find 64% cocoa, up to 70%! I am making these this weekend! BISOUS! Anita

  21. I love making mendiants and giving them as a present to my friends and family. I often use dried cranberries, almonds en walnuts. There’s a little tric to keep the chocolat glossy and shiny: when you carefully heat the chocolat make sure the temperature rises ’till it reaches 45 °C. Than let it cool down to 38 °C. And some (50 g) cold (room temperature) chocolat chips (or chopped up chocolat) and stir gently untill all the little pieces of chocolat have melted. Now you can spoon the chocolat onto the parchment paper. Good luck!

  22. I like how you gave your husband the wine, for good measure! Glad you saved him a couple of the delicious looking mendiants, too!

  23. “No one in the world knows as many stories as the Sandman. Yes, indeed, he tells wonderful stories!”
    My 10 year old daughter is now wanting to read your post with me. She can relate to your son Hudson. She now wants to find some of those sleepy time radishes for her papa, when we are quietly preparing our favorite afternoon snack of aged Irish cheddar with homemade pomegranate jelly on a slice fresh warm bread. “Shhh.” she says, don’t tell papa.”
    If only your post came like the Sandman and paid a visit to “Hjalmar every day for a week” What a delight.
    Have a beautiful week!

    1. What a delightful comment! Your daughter and my son would get along like a house on fire 🙂 I am so touched your little girl read the post too! Thank you and please say a big hello from me! Mimi x

  24. Hello Mimi,

    Your blog is one of those places that lets me live out my dream of living in the countryside, beside the delicate trees and purifying air.

    I am guessing not, but do you offer any unpaid internships for a teenager in hopes of learning about culture and traditions?

    1. Bonsoir Ana Maria, Thank you so much for such a sweet comment – I am so happy to hear the blog transports you 🙂 I’ll let you know if I ever organise a workshop/event! All the best, Mimi x

    1. Hi Carla! I am so glad you found this tip useful! I was so intrigued by this man and his black radishes at the market 🙂 Black radishes have amazing powers – and I also heard the are the perfect detox vegetable for post-holiday meals! Best, Mimi x

  25. Magical and eloquent! As usual, you and your incredibly gifted husband prepare pieces of beauty to inspire us artists alike. I have been bringing your recipes to our table and it is met with cheers and smiles. A beautiful smile is the greatest gift I could ever receive and I have you all to thank for it. Many blessings!

  26. Also, can I just say that your Erika Cavallini dress is so beautiful and elegant. I love a timeless piece such as a little black dress. I believe that clothing should be elegant and timeless. I love how Mr.Thorisson photographed it in a Dutch still life painted manner where the black dress converges with the background. What a master of light! This dress and it’s classic details is befitting of a beautiful mysterious enchantress

    1. Oh Tiffany you are too kind! Your grace and beauty glow through your work and generosity – I always enjoy seeing your lovely art through IG 🙂 Wishing you a happy thanksgiving! Mimi x

  27. This has simpler instructions than I’ve seen on the web by a famous French pastry chef—his needs chocolate tempering w/c makes me a little queasy. Do I need the sheen of a well-tempered chocolate that will be covered with nuts, anyway? Now, I can let my kids assist me in placing the fruits & nuts on chocolate discs. Thanks. @http://www.thechewinn-nova.com

    1. Bonsoir Jean, I am a big fan of simple recipes, especially when the kids can help! I find that the quality of the chocolate helps a lot in the ‘sheen’ 🙂 Enjoy this fun and delicious recipe! Mimi x

    1. Bonsoir Emmanuelle! Oh, well where do I begin? 🙂 For the kids, I love Bonpoint, Cordelia de Castellane, Soeur, Bonton and small indie labels I find in little store. For me, it’s a mix of past & present. I am always hunting for a beautiful vintage YSL dress, l Iove elegant Italian designers like Giada Forte and Missoni, and for a bit of cool Isabel Marant, Carven and APC for everyday clothes. Mimi x

  28. A friend gave me a big bar of dark chocolate today, and I already had walnuts etc. at home. So, a stop at the store for dried apricots was needed. Guess what is being made this weekend? thank you!

  29. I saw an eyewateringly expensive, teeny weeny packet of these in Selfridges food hall recently, so thanks for the recipe!

  30. what a lovely blog! it is so inspiring, i can’t wait to read and follow your next enty! you look stunning and you seem to attach importance on family life good food and enjoy your life in medoc. we are travelling very year to cassis in september – you are a lucky one to live in france , although we live close to the alsace!
    i sprinkle a little piment d’espelette on top of the mendiants -thanks for the delicious recipes!
    PS what exactly is black radish?

    1. Hello, Thank you for your kind and encouraging words – I am very touched!It must be lovely to live close to Alsace – I love their regional specialities, especiallya round Christmas time 🙂 I love the idea of a bit of piment d’Espelette on the mendiants! Spice it up! Mimi x

  31. Eres una gran inspiracIon para mi,todas tus entradas son maravillosas,magicas…tu marido y tu formais un tandem perfecto, transformando lo cotidiano en algo excepcional.Me gusta mucho tu estilo. Ayer consegui por fin la revista Elle France y pude ver tu articulo,me costo mucho conseguir la revista…¿Sera posible ver tu pragrama de television desde Barcelona?Me encantaria poder verlo .Felicidades por todos tus exitos,Un gran abrazo.Rosa

  32. I so look forward to reading the posts on your site. Truly, it is ever so dreamy. I get lost in the pictures-which are beautiful by the way. And I must say, I really appreciate that you share your recipes and take time to respond to each of the comments as well. You have such a lovely way of welcoming everyone into your world. Enchanted! p.s. Love the picture of you holding an armful of black radishes-dark and mysterious! 🙂

  33. Thank you for your inspirations. After I started to experiment with your dishes I had to get a much bigger table as the number of guests (most of them friends of my daughter) keeps increasing…
    Do you think mendiants would work with salted nuts and spices like ginger? My family is not too fond of really sweet things. And I think they would make a great dessert after a lamb tajine with dades and pommergranade seeds.

  34. Thanks for the inspiration! Perfect idea for little girls who only eat the chocolate cover from chocolate cookies…
    Looking forward for her face 🙂

  35. My older daughter and I made your mendiants yesterday and we love them! I’m so glad to have found your blog (via Bon Appetit). I love to read about other moms of many who are trying to balance work and family! Also, our youngest is from China, so I’m very interested to see how you incorporate your Chinese heritage into life in France. I’m always looking for ways to celebrate being a Chinese-American family.

  36. The mendiants with pomegranate were delicious! An explosion of sweet juice blending with melting chocolate! Merci.

  37. Dear Mimi, one short questions.
    Can i also use the bicarbonate of soda when i´m cooking jerusalem artichokes for my 9 month old baby?
    Have a nice day, Aileen

  38. I have become obsessed with black radishes since I tried your recipe. Just wanted you to know that I included it in a recipe roundup of pungent flavored recipes today.

    1. Hello Jenny! Ah those pancakes! I was so happy to meet you, I am so happy we had that lovely brunch 🙂 And yes, those pancakes 🙂 They were extra good! A bientôt, Mimix

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