What’s that one sweet treat that really reminds you of childhood?
Perhaps it was something your mother or grandmother would prepare for you; an apple crumble with custard or a buttery tray of shortbread still warm from the oven. Just the smell of it now gives you a wave of nostalgia, a sense of yearning. Above all it makes you smile.
The food we enjoyed when we were young stays deeply rooted within us. We obviously enjoyed the taste, but it was also a show of love from the person who made it for us. A ritual of care, a big warm hug. Certain dishes bundle all that emotion and memory up and carry them with us throughout our lives. Food has immense power like that.
In Italy, friends have talked about one such treat that recalls more distant, innocent times. A melancholy haze settled briefly over the eyes of one as she told me that chocolate salame had always and would always be her favourite dessert.
It’s a delicious chilled and uncooked chocolate dessert, rich in butter, eggs and biscuits. Thankfully there’s not actually salame involved, of course. The unusual name is down to its appearance. The mixture is rolled into a thick cylinder, chilled and cut into salame-like slices, while the sweet biscuits inside resemble the flecks of fat that run through salami. Before serving, one dusts the outside of the log to imitate the light, musky skin.
It should be fudgy and intense, without being dense and heavy. Smashed up crackers add lightness and texture, while a splash of booze adds a flash of warmth (possibly omit this for young children!) I personally like to add a few hazelnuts and pistachios too, as they taste good and look even better when the ‘salame’ is carved into chunks. A little orange zest in the melted chocolate goes beautifully as well.
It’s fun to make and serve, while it’s one of those desserts that whacks you over the head with intense 'chocolateyness' - something we all need once in a while. The ingredients are uncomplicated and it takes no time at all to put together.
Give it a go; make it part of your repetoir! Maybe you can create something that will carry love and memory for your nearest and dearest, the way sweets like this do for so many others!
Recipe: Salame di Cioccolato
- 200g Dark chocolate
- 180g Plain sweet crunchy biscuits (like Rich Tea), roughly broken up into small pieces
- 150g Unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp Rum
- 2 Eggs
- 80g Caster sugar
- 20g Cocoa powder
- Zest of half an orange
- 30g Hazelnuts
- 30g Shelled unsalted pistachios
- Large pinch of sea salt
- Icing sugar, to garnish
1 Roughly chop the chocolate and melt in a large bowl over a Bain Marie along with the butter.
2 Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl whisk together the eggs (make sure they’re room temperature), caster sugar, salt and orange zest for a few minutes until well mixed, light and fluffy. Whisk in the cocoa powder and rum.
3 Once fully melted, allow the chocolate mixture to sit for a few minutes so the temperature reduces. Gradually add the egg mixture to the chocolate mixture, combining well. Fold in the biscuits and nuts. Allow to sit for 10 minutes until the mixture has firmed up a bit.
4 Lay out a long sheet of cling film on a work surface in front of you horizontally. Spoon the mixture along the centre (leaving the left and right ends empty) to make a rough sausage shape around 20-30cm long. Roll the cling film up and close it around the chocolate. Twist the cling film up at the ends and roll the sausage in a forward direction on the work surface, holding on to the sealed ends. The sausage will tighten and become more circular as you do this. When you’re happy with shape, refrigerate for at least few hours.
5 To serve, take the set, firmed up ‘salame’ out of the plastic and roll in icing sugar on a chopping board until well coated. Cut into slices and serve!