Artisan Cuisine runs monthly.
A couple weeks ago I took part in a local chocolate festival. I sold molded chocolates, truffles, chocolate oranges, caramels and toffees.
The most popular treat was this Italian chocolate salami, or salame di ciccolato. It's basically a rich chocolate truffle filled with nuts, dried fruits and cookies rolled into a log made to resemble meat salami, but it's sweet.
Using your favorite chocolate (I used bittersweet) and nuts, dried fruits and cookies, you create a unique flavor profile of your own making.
I chose dried cranberries, orange zest, orange liqueur, dried apricots, white chocolate chips, shortbread cookies and walnuts. You could try almonds, dried cherries or figs, or maybe pistachios and apricots. It's up to you, and if you want it gluten-free just omit the cookies. If you want it to be vegan you can substitute coconut oil or vegan margarine for the butter.
The salami makes an interesting and tasty addition to a cheese tray or just sliced and served with wine or espresso for a chic little dessert.
I think it is the perfect thing to serve on April Fool's Day, but it is definitely coming out for future parties at my house on any occasion. It's just so easy to make and keeps well in the fridge or freezer.
Just be sure to let it warm up a bit before you try to slice it. A sharp knife helps for getting thin slices which I think are more appealing and salami-like.
Salame di Ciccolato
andfrac12;-1 cup chopped nuts
andfrac12; cup chopped cookies (plain are best)
andfrac12;-1 cup chopped dried fruit
1 stick of butter or vegan margarine (8 oz.) softened
14andndash;16 oz. semisweet or bitter chocolate
1/4 cup brewed coffee (or cream or liqueur, your choice)
andfrac12; cup powdered sugar
Turn oven on to 350 degrees. Spread the nuts on a cookie sheet for 5 minutes to toast. Let cool.
Using a double boiler, gently melt the butter and chocolate together. Once melted, take off heat and stir in the liquid (coffee, cream or liqueur). Then add all your dry ingredients except for the powdered sugar. Let cool in refrigerator for an hour or so until it's moldable like clay.
Roll out a sheet of plastic wrap about 18 inches long. Scoop up half the chocolate mixture into the center and roll plastic wrap around to shape into long roll. Roll it back and forth tightening up the roll to get a salami shape. Then chill again to firm it up.
You can lay it on something curved like a tube or something soft like a bag of salad to try to maintain the rounded shape or it may flatten a bit on the bottom. Repeat with the remaining chocolate mixture.
After they are chilled and firm, unwrap and start rubbing powdered sugar all over them till they look like white-rind-coated salamis. Brush off any excess and rewrap for later or let warm for serving. Otherwise, refrigerate to keep them for up to a month. Wrap in butcher's paper or kraft paper for gift giving.
Anne Boulley is a local chef and culinary instructor with a passion for artisan foods. For more information about her cooking classes and catering services, go to thegourmetguide.com.