You and whose salami?
My favourite type of chocolate varies depending on what I am using it for. When I’m making hot chocolate, I like to use a Valrhona chocolate powder. When I’m making ice-creams, I like to use a combination of Lindt and Valrhona – through experimentation, I’ve discovered this is my preference, that neither on its own is as satisfying.
The content of cocoa butter is a factor. Cocoa butter is a component of the chocolate, extracted from the beans, that has a white look like vegetable fat. For chocolate ice-cream, I like to get to about 60 per cent cocoa butter. For this recipe of chocolate truffles, I like the amount of cocoa butter to be more like 70 per cent.
Chocolate truffles can range from dead easy – as in this recipe – to being as inexplicably complex and as layered as you wish. The chocolate truffle is an opportunity for a chocolatier to show off with different flavours and textures and combinations.
One of the reasons I’ve kept this recipe simple is that I like to use it to showcase the quality of the chocolate. I’ve used Valrhona Guanaja, a bitter chocolate with a pure flavour. Another one I like to use is Manjari, which is 64 per cent cocoa and has a more complex and fruity flavour.
If you were going to add other flavours to this truffle, I would recommend using the Manjari. You could add dried orange zest or nuts or cardamom and cinnamon. I’ve eaten truffles with Sichuan pepper and chilli in them, both successfully.
Chocolate salami is an Italian dish. Having made this recipe a few times, I would say it looks more like a chocolate boudin noir than a salami, because of its colour and texture. A butcher friend made a genuine chocolate boudin noir for me at one point, with pig’s blood, cocoa powder, pine nuts and spices. It was potted and came in the post, with a character almost like a paste, to spread on bread. It was memorable, but I won’t say any more as I don’t wish to offend.
I made this chocolate salami recipe for nostalgic reasons, partly because it is one of the first things I cooked as an apprentice chef and haven’t really cooked since. But it is really delicious. Even if the chocolate salami station was less a part of training and more a place to be sentenced for punishment.
– 150ml cream
– 1 orange, zest only
– 400g bittersweet chocolate, 70%
– 4 tbsp butter, softened
– 1 cup best-quality unsweetened cocoa
In a small saucepan, bring the cream and orange zest to the boil then remove the saucepan from the heat.
Strain the cream into a bowl, add the chocolate to the cream and stir until it has melted. Add the butter and stir gently until the butter has melted. Pour the mixture into a shallow dish or plate so the truffle mix is about two centimetres deep. Cover and place in the refrigerator to set overnight.
Remove the chocolate half an hour before you wish to roll the chocolate truffles. Scrape the side of a spoon across the chocolate so that it forms rough curls or alternatively take teaspoon amounts and roll into balls.
Gently toss the curls through the cocoa powder and put them in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Makes about 20 slices
– 4 egg yolks
– 160g castor sugar
– 180g butter
– 100g cocoa, sifted
– 100g pistachios
– 100g raw almonds
– 75g yellow raisins or currants
– 75g candied orange peel, chopped
– 140g Italian shortbread or savoiardi biscuits, chopped into 1cm pieces
Toast the nuts in a 160ºC oven until golden.
In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture is pale and smooth. Beat in the softened butter and the cocoa powder until you have a smooth, creamy paste. Tip in the nuts, dried fruit and biscuits and mix firmly but patiently, making sure everything is chocolate covered.
On your workbench, spread out two large pieces of cling film on top of each other so you have a large cling film-covered surface to roll the chocolate salami out on. Tip half of the chocolate mixture on to the cling film and use your hands to shape it into a rough salami-like log, about 20 centimetres long.
Roll the chocolate log up in the cling film, and then firmly roll it, like a rolling pin, to create an even cylinder. Finish by grasping both ends of the cling film and rolling the sausage-log towards you several times. Then tie a knot in each end of the cling film to secure the package. Repeat this process with the other half of the mixture. Refrigerate the logs overnight.
When ready to serve, remove the cling film and slice the salami with a sharp, serrated knife.
This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on May 28, 2016 as "Chocolate truffles and chocolate salami". Subscribe here.