This treat was actually made at Christmastime, but I felt there was a limit to how many dessert entries
readers would be interested in I wanted to have in a row. Now that all the New Year’s “must-do” resolutions have been downgraded to “things I’ll try to do” and with Valentine’s Day just around the corner and because the anniversary of this blog’s start is today… we will celebrate with chocolate salame.
It’s a bit time consuming to put this together, with gaps in between the actual hands-on part for the mixture to cool, so be sure to allot enough time if you’re making it for a particular day. This is not a difficult recipe, though. If you are making it for someone you love, a little bit of trouble is really no trouble at all.
This is what happened when I made chocolate salame.
Got the chocolate, broke it into smaller pieces and put it in a bowl over simmering water.
While the chocolate was melting, measured the amaretti cookies.
Added some graham crackers to get to the amount the recipe needed.
Put all the cookies into a bag and whacked them with a mallet.
In the meantime, the chocolate had melted.
Added the cocoa.
Took it off the heat for the first cooling period.
While that was cooling, I got the nuts ready.
Not almonds, pecans.
Hazelnuts. (I boiled them in water which had baking soda added, so the skins would come off.)
Got all the nuts together and chopped them.
The inclusions are prepared. Next step…
Put the butter and sugar into the stand mixer.
Creamed the butter and sugar.
One egg in.
All the eggs are in there. I couldn’t find a small bottle of Amaretto, so substituted almond extract. It’s in there too.
Added the crushed biscuits and cooled chocolate and mixed them in.
More cooling time, then moulded the mixture into a log shape.
The ends of the plastic wrap were twisted to further mimic the look of salame.
After some more cooling time, unwrapped the chocolate salame. this would have been the time to tie the roll with string, but I didn’t have any. Let’s call that part optional.
Coated the roll with confectioner’s sugar. I think it looks like salame.
Chocolate salame, served.
(This is a recipe from my autographed copy of Nigellissima. Did you think I would forget to mention it? No!).
Makes: approximately 20 generous slices
I’ve encountered quite a few versions of chocolate salame in Italy – coming to the conclusion that it’s really an Italian version of our chocolate refrigerator cake – and although I am not normally a huge fan of the culinary pun, Christmas does seem the right time of year for such whimsical enterprises. And, I admit, the chocolate salame does have a certain charm, especially when dusted with icing sugar, tied like a proper salame with string. (I am grateful here to Jacob Kenedy for his instructions on how to string up a finocchiona in the Bocca Cookbook.) If I can do the stringing up, then you can, honestly, but if you prefer, you can just dust the unstrung salame with icing sugar and leave it picturesquely on a board.
9 oz good-quality bittersweet chocolate (min. 70% cocoa solids), roughly chopped
9 oz amaretti cookies (crunchy, not soft)
7 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
3/4 cup superfine sugar
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons Amaretto liqueur
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup raw almonds (unskinned), roughly chopped
1/2 cup hazelnuts (roughly chopped)
1/3 cup pistachios (roughly chopped)
2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar (to decorate)
In the microwave (following manufacturer’s instructions), or in a heatproof bowl suspended over a saucepan of simmering water (but not touching the water), melt the chocolate until smooth. While the chocolate’s melting, put the biscuits into a large freezer bag, seal and bash them with a rolling pin until you have a bag of rubble – not dust. When the chocolate’s melted, remove it to a cold place (not the fridge) and set aside to cool.
Cream the butter and sugar together; I do this in a freestanding mixer, but you don’t have to. You just need to use a large bowl and make sure the mixture is soft and superlight.
Gradually, and one by one, beat in the eggs. (Don’t worry if the mixture looks curdled at this stage: all manner of ills will be righted once the chocolate is added later.) Then beat in the amaretto liqueur.
Push the cocoa powder through a little sieve or tea strainer into the cooled chocolate and, with a small rubber spatula, stir till combined, then beat this into the egg mixture, too.
When you have a smooth chocolate mixture in front of you, tip in the chopped nuts and crushed biscuits. Fold these in firmly but patiently to make sure everything is chocolate covered. Transfer this mixture, still in its bowl, to the fridge to firm up a bit for 20–30 minutes. Don’t leave it for much longer than this or it will be difficult to get out of the bowl to shape.
Unroll and slice off 2 large pieces of clingfilm, overlapping them, so that you have a large cling-covered surface to roll the chocolate salame out on. Tip the chocolate mixture out in the middle of this and – using your hands, messy though this is – mould the mixture into a fat salame-like log, approximately 12 inches long.
Cover the chocolate log completely with the clingfilm, and then firmly roll it, as if it were a rolling pin, to create a smooth, rounded cylinder from the rough log you started with. Twist the ends by grasping both ends of the clingfilm and rolling the sausage-log towards you several times. Then put it in the fridge for at least 6 hours – though preferably overnight – to set.
Now – once it’s set – for the exciting bit: tear off a large piece of greaseproof paper and lay it on a clear kitchen surface. Take the salame out of the fridge and sit it on the paper. Measure out a piece of string at least 6 times longer than the length of the salame, and tie one end of the string firmly round the twisted knot of clingfilm at one end of the salame. Then trim away as much clingfilm as you can, but without cutting either of the tapered, nose ends, so that you can attach the string to these.
Dust your hands with a little icing sugar and then rub 2 tablespoons of icing sugar (more if needed) over the unwrapped salame to stop it getting sticky as you string it up. Plus it makes it look more like a salame!
Make a loop with the string, a little wider than the salame, and feed it over the end of the salame, close to where it is tied on. Pull on the trailing end to tighten (but not too tightly) and form another loop of string as before. Work this second loop around the sausage, 4cm or so further along from the first, tighten again and repeat until you reach the far end of the salame, then tie the string firmly round the other twisted nose of clingfilm.
With your remaining length of string, start to feed it back along the salame, twisting it around the encircling string each time it crosses a loop, then tie it again when you come to the end. Repeat these lengths as many times as you want, to make the authentic-looking pattern, but two or three times would be enough to get the effect.
Transfer it to a wooden board, and cut some slices, fanning them out as if they were indeed slices of salame, leaving a knife on the board, too, for people to cut further slices, as they wish. Obviously, when you cut the salame, you will cut through the string, but the many knots and twists keep it securely tied. Serve fridge cold, or very near to it.