Chocolate salami is one of those things that causes me great amusement; it makes a brilliant and somewhat perplexing gift, and whilst you know that the recipient is going to love it, when you initially say ‘chocolate salami’ more often than not it results in a look of utter astonishment, turning quickly to disgust until you say ‘relax! It’s not some kind of kooky combination of pork and chocolate’ at which point there is a visible look of confusion: well what is it then?! This is what makes it terribly fun to give as a gift! Chocolate salami is a deliciously, and almost ridiculously, simple indulgence to create. It’s really very similar to what we could usually find in the biscuit tin at home: chocolate fridge cake. But in this version, we are ‘adulting’, which means a gloriously dark chocolate matched with traditional spicy Dutch Christmas cookies, and spiked (if you like) with some rum. Instead of using imported dried cherries or other ingredients, I’ve turned to some slightly more tropical flavours, and included some Sweetunda dried fruit which I think gives it a spiky tang to break up the rich velvety chocolate.
IMAGE CREDIT: Jacquie Mwai (@j.mwai)
250 grams Absolute dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids) , roughly chopped
200 grams Bbrood Kruidmoppen Biscuits
100 grams Brown’s unsalted butter, softened
150 grams caster sugar
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons rum (optional)
2 tablespoons Epicurious Hedgehog cocoa powder
75 grams almonds or hazelnuts (unskinned), roughly chopped
75 grams Sweetunda mango or raspberry rolls (roughly chopped)
20 grams Kampi Kitchen dried orange crackers, rind removed, finely chopped
50 grams pistachios (roughly chopped)
2 tablespoons icing sugar (to decorate)
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 Kruidmoppen 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 until the mixture is soft and super light.
Gradually, and one by one, beat in the eggs. (Don’t worry if the mixture looks curdled at this stage: once the chocolate is added later it will be fine.) Then beat in the rum.
Push the cocoa powder through a little sieve into the cooled chocolate and, with a 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, fruit 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 salami 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 salami-like log, approx. 30cm long. This is a messy job!
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 – tear off a large piece of greaseproof paper and lay it on a clear kitchen surface. Take the salami 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 salami, and tie one end of the string firmly round the twisted knot of clingfilm at one end of the salami. 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 salami to stop it getting sticky as you string it up. Plus it makes it look more like a salami!
Make a loop with the string, a little wider than the salami, and feed it over the end of the salami, 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 salami, 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 salami, 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 salami, leaving a knife on the board, too, for people to cut further slices, as they wish. Obviously, when you cut the salami, you will cut through the string, but the many knots and twists keep it securely tied. Serve fridge cold, or very near to it.