Recipes : Desserts
Come December, everyone seems to be thinking about end of the year traditional tasty treats. Though in my family we used to eat them all year round; chocolate salami came to mind, as it is such a funny, creative and addicting nibble. It works great to bring along to friends (it will make them laugh, you will see…), as well as to keep some at home for an anytime sweet bite, since they keep in the freezer for months.
Growing up, my sisters and I used to make batches in minutes. We also managed to eat so much of the chunky, crunchy, funky, gooey batter in the seconds it took to transfer the mix to the wrapping papers set on the table. We would get all messy as we helped my oldest sister give the dough their salami shapes. Then, it was so hard to wait, until the chocolate salamis were frozen and hard enough to slice.
My oldest sister, Karen, told me the recipe came from a Women Community-Cooperative cookbook called Tu y Yo Cocinando (You and I Cooking) which was popular in Mexico City around the 70’s. That book was one of those fabulous gems, where participants pitched in their tried and true favorite recipes.
Now my sisters and I are all grown up and raising our families in different cities and countries. Yet, we all make chocolate salamis for our kids. None of us have the cookbook anymore (it makes me sad to think of all the wonders we are missing). As time moved on, we each have given this dessert our own personal spin, with no recipe, just by hunch as we each have made it so many times.
However one thing remains, we all use Maria cookies since they have such a deliciously loud crunch and the perfect balance of sweetness. Brought to Mexico by the Spaniards more than five centuries ago, they grew deep and strong roots in Mexico’s kitchens. Today, you can find them in most grocery stores throughout the US too. If you can’t find them, you can substitute with vanilla wafers or plain Graham crackers.
Here, I am sharing my personal spin.
The recipe below makes two generous chocolate salami portions. I like to mix half the batter with pecans and Tequila. It is absolutely to die for and gives this treat a rich and interesting layer of flavor with just a hint of alcohol. Some Mexican cooks add Rum or Kahlua to the mix as well.
I leave the other half of the batter plain for my boys (yes, it kills me, but they are picky eaters). This is one of those desserts that is pretty accommodating. Now that I think about it, some dried cherries would be pretty amazing in that mix too… But you can play around and see what flavors you would like to the mix as well…
8 ounces/225 grams bittersweet chocolate
3/4 cup unsalted butter
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
5 egg yolks
12 ounces Maria cookies (or plain Graham crackers or Vanilla Wafers), broken into small pieces
4 tablespoons coffee liqueur made with tequila, rum or kahlua, optional
1/2 cup pecans, lightly toasted and roughly chopped, optional
In a double boiler over simmering water, melt the chocolate and cocoa powder along with the butter. Remove from the heat and stir the mix into a large heatproof bowl. Pour in the sugar and vanilla and combine with a spatula in a circular motion. Slowly add the egg yolks, one by one, mixing very well after each addition. Fold in the broken cookie chunks. If adding the tequila and pecans, fold them all in as well. You will have a moist and chunky, rough looking mix.
Cut 2 pieces of waxed or parchment paper of about 15" length. Spoon half of the mixture onto each piece of paper. Shape them into logs with your hands. Roll them in the paper and give them a salami shape of about 2" thickness. Having the paper cover makes it easy to give them a quick roll to give them a round shape. To finish, twist the ends in opposite directions.
If you made some with liquor and/or pecans and the other without, use a marker to recognize them when ready. Then wrap each one in a layer of plastic wrap. Place them in the freezer for about 2 or 3 hours or until frozen. Slice them as thin or thick as you like, while frozen, and serve.
Chocolate salami will keep in the freezer, tightly wrapped, for about 6 months. Remove from the freezer around 10 minutes before you want to slice it.
If you bring them over as gifts, you may want to buy colored paper to give them a festive feel, though I also like to use brown/unbleached parchment paper. It gives them a deli style. In any case, if you traveled with them for a while, don't forget to tell your friends to place the chocolate salamis in the freezer or refrigerator as soon as you give it to them (!).
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