Sunday, August 12, 2012

Festivus Chocolate Salami

Once upon a time my parents and I used to go to a restaurant called Il Pizzico in Rockville, Maryland for all special occasions.  Actually, when we first started going to Il Pizzico it was more of a cafe than a restaurant and it wasn't restricted to special occasions.  But as time went by it became fancier and more expensive, so it was relegated to the special occasion category.  But back when we first started going there they had this desert called chocolate salami that I used to love.  The first time I ordered it the waiter had to convince me that it was a legitimate dessert and not some weird meat product.  The dessert looked like 3 or 4 chocolate cookies in a small puddle of creme anglaise (or a similar sauce).  I loved it.  Unfortunately, as the restaurant got fancier the chocolate salami disappeared from the menu.  I guess it wasn't fancy enough.  I recently decided that I wanted to try and recreate the chocolate salami I remembered from Il Pizzico at home.  But once I started playing around online I realized that there were all sorts of different chocolate salami recipes out there.  Giada De Laurentis's recipe uses walnuts, almonds, coffee, orange zest and biscotti, La Mia Vita Dolce's recipe uses rum, hazlenuts, almonds and pistachios, Pink Bite's recipe uses raisins, cognac and condensed milk...  I could go on forever, but I think you get the picture.  The only constants in the recipes that I found online were butter, egg, cocoa, sugar, and some sort of cookies. 

In the end I decided to go with the "Festivus Chocolate Salami" recipe that I found on the Saveur website, not because of any enduring love of Seinfeld or the Festivus holiday, but because it sounded the most interesting to me.  I really think it was the cocoa nibs and the orange liqueur that got me.  Anyway, I really thought the chocolate salami were yummy.  It had good texture and really good flavor - chocolately, sweet (but not too sweet) with a hint of orange.  The gingersnaps we used had a really strong ginger flavor that almost made the chocolate salami taste... minty.  I know that doesn't make sense, but both Alex and I noticed it.  We served the chocolate salami thinly sliced (and you want to make sure it is thinly sliced, otherwise it is a little too much) with some strawberries.  I wish I had made some creme anglaise or something else to go with the chocolate salami to provide some creaminess and sauce, but it worked pretty well with just the strawberries!  I think if you had a small pool of creme anglaise under the chocolate salami, along with the strawberries it would have been a really elegant, yet fun dessert appropriate for a dinner party.  One of the best things about it is that you don't have to bake it so it works really well for the summer when turning on the oven is the very last thing you ant to do! 

Recipe after the jump!

Festivus Chocolate Salami
Available at Saveur

1 stick unsalted butter
2 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1 cup cocoa
2 tablespoons orange liqueur, such as Triple Sec or Grand Marnier
4 ounces tea biscuits or plain butter cookies
3 ounces ginger snaps (Trader Joe's Triple Ginger, if you can get them)
2 tablespoons Scharffenberger cocoa nibs (optional but recommended)

Place cookies in a closed plastic bag and smash with a bottle, can or rolling pin until pieces are no bigger than 1/2 inch. 

In a bowl, vigorously mix egg yolks with sugar until the mixture turns thick and pale yellow. Set aside. 

Cut butter into 1/2-inch cubes and place on a cold skillet over low heat.  
Work the solid pieces into the melting butter with a wooden spoon or your fingers until the butter is soft but not liquid. Remove from heat. 

In a bowl, combine the egg mixture, butter and remaining ingredients until the mixture holds shape.  

Place an 18-inch x 12-inch-long piece of aluminum foil on a firm surface.Transfer your mixture to the foil and form a long sausage about 14 inches long and 2 inches in diameter.   
Place sausage on near end of foil, about three inches from the edge. Roll the sausage tightly in the aluminum foil.  Twist the ends of the foil as if it were a real salami. Make sure that your roll is compact and there are no air pockets. If you wish, tie ends with butcher's twine as decoration. 

Refrigerate for five hours.  Slice and serve. Keep leftovers refrigerated.

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