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I always travel with chocolate. Please tell me I’m not the only one who gets chocolate cravings in the middle of an international flight! I usually resort to buying (expensive and not that satisfying) peanut butter M & M’s at the airport. But for my recent trip to Europe I decided to make French chocolate mendiants to take with me instead.
If you’re looking for my Europe travel tips, scroll to the bottom of this post!
Here are some chocolate mendiants I found in Belgium…yum…
Chocolate mendiants were traditionally made during the Christmas season and featured nuts and dried fruits, such as raisins, hazelnuts, figs, and almonds. These days you’ll find them year-round and may include seeds, fruit peels, and more.
It only takes about 10 minutes to make chocolate mendiants but I recommend preparing them a day or two before your trip so they have time to set. Use your favorite chocolate and toppings – nuts, chia seeds, salt, dried fruit, pretzels, etc. The sky’s the limit!
I had some chocolate chips in the cupboard, so I used them as my base but next time I’ll think ahead and get a bar of high quality chocolate. For toppings I used chia seeds, hazelnuts, sliced almonds, cashews, pecans, dried cranberries, dried blueberries, and freeze dried raspberries. I really liked the dried raspberries because it gave the mendiants a tart flavor and a crunchy texture.
Even if you’re not traveling, give these easy chocolates a try! They’d be fun to make at a birthday party (pop them in the fridge to reduce the time they need to set) or as favors to take home. Or as a portion-controlled snack or after dinner dessert. Enjoy!
These easy chocolate delights are perfect travel snacks, party treats or for an easy portion-controlled dessert.
- 1 cup chopped chocolate (milk, dark or white)
- Toppings of your choice (dried fruit, nuts, seeds, salt, pretzels, etc)
Melt chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave.
Use a spoon to make 12 chocolate rounds on a lined baking sheet.
Sprinkle your favorite toppings on the chocolate rounds. Lightly press the toppings into the chocolate so they're firmly set in the chocolate.
Let the chocolate sit on the counter or in the fridge until set. Enjoy!
Europe Travel Tips
Thinking about traveling to Europe? Awesome! Here are a few of my top travel tips:
- Unless you’re staying in only one place, bring less than you think. A lot less! I usually pack light but on my recent trip I brought only a small backpack and a laptop bag. It was awesome! I had zero problems carrying my luggage up and down stairs, I could pack in 5 minutes, navigating trains and busses was super easy, and walking around cities during a couple short layovers was no problem. Remember, you can layer if it gets cold and borrow or buy if you need something unexpected (e.g., I bought a cheap umbrella, toothpaste, and lotion). Most of the time, you just don’t need everything you want to pack and will be happier with less to lug around.
- Keep several coins in your wallet. You have to pay to pee in most parts of Europe and it really sucks when you can’t get in the bathroom because you don’t have the right coin to feed the machine that lets you in. So be sure to keep a variety of coins available (10, 20, and 50 cent coins) in your day bag. Also, if you see a bathroom, use it, especially if it’s free. It’s not always easy to find one when you need it!
- Stay in AirBnBs (or rental apartments in general). If I’m going to be in one place for more than a couple days, I usually rent an AirBnB-type apartment. I love being able to make a meal or two, even if it’s just breakfast and snacks, because it’s healthier and less expensive than eating every meal in a restaurant. Plus, you get a deeper look into a different aspect of the local culture than you do when staying in hotels only. I’ve stayed in apartments – both AirBnB and other companies – on 3 continents and my experience has been 100% positive.
- Bring a lightweight shopping bag. Having a lightweight and packable shopping bag in your day bag can really come in handy (I have this one and LOVE it). I typically use mine at the grocery store but I’ve used it at the beach, the laundromat, etc.
- Buy a day transit pass and ride random busses or trams around the city. This is a great way to get off the tourist trail! Simply hop on a bus, tram or subway, get off at a random stop, and walk around the neighborhood. Get back on a different bus, tram or subway and ride it to another part of the city, hop off, and continue exploring. If you want to explore beyond the typical tourist sights but don’t have any specific locations in mind, this is fun way to spend a couple hours or even an entire day. If you’re worried about getting lost, download offline transit and city maps to your phone, and then drop a pin in the location of your lodging. That way you’ll always be able to always see where you are in the city and find your way back without using any data or needing wifi.
- Use offline maps. I download an offline map for every city (and sometimes country) I plan to visit. Before I arrive, I drop a pin at my lodging so I can find my way there. Then, I drop pins for each places I want to visit during the day so I can easily navigate to them no matter where I am in the city without needing data or wifi.
- Don’t change money at a US airport! During my layover at the DC airport I overheard three people lament the terrible exchange rate and high fees at the airport currency exchange station. One guy had changed over $600 and paid a hefty fee. When traveling to Europe, I never change money before arriving. As soon as I clear customs I head to an ATM machine and withdraw what I need off my debit card.
- Bring a rechargeable battery for your phone. I use my phone a lot when I travel (photos, videos, offline maps…) and need to charge it at some point during the day. So I always bring a rechargeable battery with me in my day bag (I have this one). It’s been a life-saver on multiple occasions. I never travel without it!
- If you want sunny weather, buy an umbrella. This one is a bit of an LOL. 🙂 I never bring an umbrella with me because I know I’ll end up carrying it far more than actually using it. On my recent trip, however, it rained for the first 5 days. After getting drenched on day 3 and having to stay inside the rest of the day to dry out, I caved and bought a cheap umbrella on day 4. I kid you not, as soon as I walked out of the store with my umbrella, the rain stopped. I carried that umbrella around for 2 more weeks and used it 2 whole times!
- If you’re thinking about going to Europe, do it! Just go. Bring your lunch to work, put off buying a new car for a year or two, sign up for a mileage credit card…do whatever you have to do to make your travel dreams a reality. You won’t regret it. Just one request – tell me about the awesome desserts you eat! 🙂
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