Thursday, October 17, 2013

Salame De Chocolate - Portuguese Chocolate Roll

When I was a kid, home-made desserts were reserved for Easter, Christmas, and Thanksgiving. I'm amazed by the number of foodie bloggers who fondly remember making apple pie from scratch with grandma or living in a home seemingly built of fresh-out-of-the-oven cookies. Heck, the first time we baked a cookie was when my older sister brought a recipe from the highschool Home Economics class (do they still have those classes?). It was titled, "The World's Best Chocolate Chip Cookie." And you know what? We believed it with all our hearts! It was a printed recipe. With measurements! And directions! Legit.

There are a few home made desserts that tug strongly at my heart strings with nostalgia, like Salame De Chocolate. As you can probably deduce, it literally translates to Chocolate Salami! One time in middleschool, I found an entire roll of Salame De Chocolate untouched in our basement freezer. Mom must have forgotten about it during the holidays! This was a huge score that I didn't want to compromise. A few nibs wouldn't hurt, right? I didn't bother with cutting off a slice- sneaking silverware downstairs would only draw attention. Hence.... I tore into like a wild animal. There was no time to let it thaw- gnawing on frozen brick of chocolate seemed like a good idea at the time. As you can imagine... a few nibs turned into the rolls steady demise.

It seemed sacrilegious to make the Salame de Chocolate myself since it's reserved for holidays and a mom specialty. However, after a recent trip to Portugal (post to follow), I couldn't resist! It was in almost every pastry shop and I took full advantage. 

The beauty of this sweet treat is it's simplicity. I feel that it is an strong representation of what a little creativity and limited resources can produce. (Portuguese cooking isn't exactly fancy in the ingredients but it's big on flavor) This log is a simple mixture of a chopped bolachas (always known as Maria cookies which can be found easily in Portugal and should be in the Latin section of your local grocery store), dark cocoa powder, sweetened condensed milk, unsalted butter, almonds (optional), and port wine (also optional). Totally healthy, no? These are ingredients that country folk could access; when my mom talks about her childhood, condensed milk was a luxury import from Africa.

Cocoa is the key ingredient in this recipe. I used a very strong, 100% cocoa- it was a lot darker than Olga's(the second mom) version. It was best served with a small bowl of vanilla ice cream to balance out the richness of the chocolate. If you're not a dark chocolate fanatic, use a more generic brand like Nestle or look for a 70% minimum dark cocoa powder. Plus, feel free to add other things to the mix- I have seen versions with a range of dried fruit and nuts! Some add sugar but I find the condensed milk sweet enough. Roll the log in confections sugar before serving for an extra hit of sweet. 

I hope you enjoy this recipe! It makes me feel like a kid again just looking at the pictures. 

Salame De Chocolate

1 package of Maria cookies, coarsely broken (7 oz) or substitue with lady fingers
1 can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups of dark cocoa powder (at least 70%)
2 tablespoons Port wine (optional but recommended)
1 cup of unsalted butter, melted
1 cup of whole almonds (optional but recommended)

In a big bowl, mix condensed milk, cocoa powder,Porto wine, and the melted butter. Add the almonds and the Maria cookies. Spread the mixture in a parchment paper and roll it to make a salami shape. Twist the edges and put it in the fridge for at least 2 hours to harden. Add a layer of aluminum for frost bite protection. Keep it in the freezer for as long as you want. To serve, take it 10 minutes before and then cut into slices.