Classic chocolate salami

For Valentine’s Day, a chocolate salami can be a tempting treat.

Chocolate hearts 521 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Chocolate hearts 521
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
For Valentine’s Day, a chocolate salami can be a tempting treat.
Chocolate salami is a traditional confection in Italian homes, where it is known as salame di cioccolato. In France, it’s called saucisson au chocolat.
It’s also popular in Portugal, Russia and the US.
The sausage-shaped sweet is composed of a dense chocolate mixture that is often mixed with cookie pieces. After being chilled, the “sausage roll” is cut into slices, which are brown and dotted with the pale cookie bits.
An American friend of mine described how her mother made her no-bake “sausage cookies.” She formed the chocolate dough in a log shape and coated it with powdered sugar, which helped give it the appearance of a sausage. When sliced, the pieces were speckled with walnuts and looked like salami slices.
Which cookies to choose for mixing with the chocolate depends on what you have on hand. Italian recipes often call for biscotti, while French formulas sometimes specify sables (buttery French “sand” cookies). Among American cooks, graham crackers and vanilla wafers are frequent cookie choices. Any plain, simple cookie will do.
Chocolate salami is a specialty of Piedmont (a region in northwestern Italy), writes Michele Scicolone, author of 1,000 Italian Recipes. She makes hers by mixing crushed amaretti cookies with sugar and cocoa, then with softened butter, walnuts and grappa (Italian grape pomace brandy).
Some cooks use Grand Marnier as the flavoring, and substitute pistachios for the walnuts.
Raisins, chopped dates, figs or other dried fruit might be added as well. I even found a recipe that called for stirring in Roquefort cheese.
Levana Kirschenbaum, author of The Whole Foods Kosher Kitchen, flavors her chocolate salami with cocoa as well as melted chocolate, coffee and rum. She mixes in toasted pecans and crumbled graham crackers.
THERE IS a French version of chocolate salami that is made without cookies and is called tranches aux oranges (slices with oranges) by Jean-Marie Fonteneau, author of Le Chocolat et Sa Cuisine. To make the sausage-shaped sweet, he enriches a mixture of melted chocolate and powdered sugar with creme fraiche and egg yolks, flavors it with rum and adds finely chopped hazelnuts and candied orange peel.
He serves the confection in slices garnished with more candied peel.
If you want to prepare something simpler than chocolate salami, you can make chocolate balls, which could be considered cousins of chocolate salami. The components are the same – chocolate, butter and cookies. For chocolate balls, the cookies are crushed to fine crumbs; for chocolate salami, they are left in coarser pieces. Chocolate balls are often rolled in chopped nuts or coconut.
Some form the chocolate mixture into finger shapes instead, and refer to their sweets as chocolate logs or chocolate rolls. The mixture can also be spread in a square or round pan, and after it has set, is cut in squares like brownies or in thin wedges like pieces of cake.
Sally and Martin Stone, authors of Desserts with a Difference, call their confection chocolate pâté “because it is rich, dense and formed into a pâtélike loaf to be served in thin slices.”
Theirs is made of chocolate melted in browned butter and mixed with confectioners’ sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla and hazelnut liqueur. It has no cookies, but does have a surprise: Inspired by European chocolate and chestnut desserts, they add syrup-glazed chickpeas, which they note taste like glazed chestnuts.
Referring to these treats as no-bake cookies, Jean Anderson and Elaine Hanna, authors of The New Doubleday Cookbook, comment: “They require very little time, effort or expertise to make and, when properly stored, will keep longer than any other type of cookie. Many, especially those rich in fruit or flavored with liquor, will actually improve on standing.”
The writer is the author of Chocolate Sensations.
The recipe for these crunchy chocolate nut slices is from 1,000 Italian Recipes. Author Michele Scicolone writes that other cookies can be substituted for the amaretti and suggests vanilla or chocolate wafers, graham crackers or shortbread. You can replace the liqueur with orange juice. The chocolate salami is best made a few days ahead, to allow the flavors to blend.
18 amaretti cookies 1⁄3 cup sugar 1⁄3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
110 gr. (4 oz. or 1⁄2 cup) unsalted butter, softened 1 Tbsp. grappa or rum 1⁄3 cup chopped walnuts
Place the cookies in a plastic bag. Crush the cookies with a rolling pin or heavy object.
There should be about 3⁄4 cup of crumbs.
Place the crumbs in a large bowl. With a wooden spoon, stir in the sugar and cocoa.
Add the butter and grappa. Stir until the dry ingredients are moistened and blended. Stir in the walnuts.
Place a 36.5-cm. (14-in.) sheet of plastic wrap on a flat surface. Pour the dough mixture onto the plastic wrap. Shape the dough into a 20- cm. x 6-cm. (8-in. x 21⁄2-in.) log. Roll the log in the plastic wrap, folding the ends over to enclose it completely. Refrigerate the log at least 24 hours and up to 3 days.
Cut the log into 6-mm. (1⁄4-in.) -thick slices.
Serve chilled. Store the cookies in an airtight plastic container in the refrigerator up to two weeks.Makes 32 cookies
CHOCOLATE PECAN COCONUT BALLS This chocolate treat studded with nuts and rolled in coconut is a favorite of children as well as adults. Make it with ground pecans or other nuts, or with half pecans and half cookie crumbs. Instead of flavoring it with vanilla, you can add 2 or 3 tsp. of liqueur, brandy or rum.
You can keep these sweets up to one week in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
110 gr. (4 oz.) bittersweet chocolate, chopped 55 gr. (2 oz. or 1⁄4 cup) unsalted butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar 1 cup pecans, finely ground (about 100 gr. or 31⁄2 oz.), or 1⁄2 cup ground pecans mixed with 1⁄2 cup crumbs of plain cookies 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. ground or flaked coconut 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Melt chocolate in a medium bowl set over hot water, over low heat. Stir until smooth.Remove from pan of water and let cool.
Cream butter in a medium bowl, add powdered sugar and beat until smooth and fluffy.Stir in melted chocolate. Add nuts, 2 Tbsp. coconut and vanilla and mix thoroughly.
Refrigerate 1 hour or until firm.
Shape mixture in small balls, using about 2 tsp. mixture for each. Put remaining flaked coconut in a shallow bowl or tray and roll chocolate balls in it. Refrigerate 1 hour before serving.
Makes 20 candies
NO-BAKE RUM BALLS The recipe for these easy-to-make treats is from The New Doubleday Cookbook. The sweets contain no butter or oil; ground nuts provide their enrichment. Authors Jean Anderson and Elaine Hanna write that these cookies keep well up to 10 days when stored in airtight canisters.
11⁄4 cups fine vanilla wafer crumbs 1 cup finely ground pecans 1 cup unsifted confectioners’ sugar 1⁄4 cup cocoa 3 Tbsp. light corn syrup 1⁄4 cup light rum or bourbon 1⁄3 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar (for dredging)
Place wafer crumbs, ground pecans, unsifted confectioners’ sugar, cocoa, corn syrup and rum in a bowl. Mix well, using your hands.
Roll into 2.5-cm. (1-in.) balls and dredge in confectioners’ sugar.
Makes 21⁄2 dozen