This mock-sweet salami dessert captivated the life out of me like it did to my husband as he went through his childhood. What baffles me is why it is referred to as English. I do know that it's Sicilian by origin. To a few, it's aptly referred to as salame al cioccolato (chocolate salami) but its real name is really salame inglese.
I first encountered this sweet salami dessert in Sicily in a local trattoria serving regional food. One of the desserts was salame inglese which our other companions passed for other interesting desserts, but instead perked my husband's interest to high intensity. I ordered it too, hearing something new and wondering what it was. I got excited explanations from everyone. It's a chocolate dessert that looks exactly like a salami but instead, made of chocolate & biscuits. It's one of my husband's, if not, the only favorite dessert when he was young. I didn't need to be elbowed to understand that I have to learn how to do it. It was time to bequeath the recipe to me to prepare for our children, the next generation. If it made the father happy, it might make the offsprings happy too. We ate our dessert while I got a crash course of making salame inglese. There was a slight disagreement though about which kind of biscuits to use. My husband's mother & aunt had different views about it. Little did I know that the same conversation would take place in Rome with the other sister. It seems that the kind of biscuit to use is the most fundamental part of this dessert.
So, one afternoon, my mother-in-law and I prepared this chocolate dessert. She and her sister arrived at our house armed with the ingredients and her quasi 60-year old handwritten recipe. She used to make this when she was young. It's a recipe taught to her by her mother. You can find this recipe easily at the internet, mostly the same, just varying on the calculations of the ingredients. I'm sticking to this one because this is what my husband has loved while growing up.
There was a long discussion about the biscuits between the two sisters. My mother-in-law wasn't able to find the perfect kind. The perfect biscuits should be simply milk & honey based & longish. They should be hard & don't crumble easily when you break them to small pieces. She mentioned that some people also put rum in the mixture but she never tried it because she had always been preparing it for her kids. My interest in putting rum grew as I imagined how it would taste like.
I decided to do another one the following day, this time with liquor. Off I went to the supermarket and searched for the right biscuits. I got stuck. With all the fuss about the correct biscuits to use, I was scared to buy the wrong one. Ok, I spent about a quarter of an hour walking up and down the biscuit section without really knowing what I was looking for. That's the worst thing to spend your time. I bought the one that seems to fit the description of the proper biscuits to use, plus these biscuits have been in production for 120 years so it has got to be it!
I prepared the rum version as soon as I arrived home. I was very excited. The problem is, I had to wait for at least 8 hours before I can rip open the salami and get a slice. I cheated. I opened it on the 6th hour. I loved it. The rum blended perfectly with the chocolate & biscuits. I finished the whole salami all by myself in less than a week. The other one is still in the freezer, eaten diligently every after meal by my daughter, Sofia. Like father, like daughter.
Salame Inglese (Sweet English Salami)Ingredients:
Serves about 6 (one cylinder)
- 2 eggs, yolks & whites separated
- 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 9 tablespoons white sugar
- 250 g. dry milk-based biscuits
- 100 g. butter, melted
2. Add 4 tablespoons cocoa powder & 8 tbsp. sugar. Mix well with biscuits. Add melted butter and mix well. Whisk egg whites until fluffy. Add to the mixture & mix well. Add the yolks. Mix well.
3. Lay a long piece of aluminum foil on the table. Put 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder mixed with 1 tablespoon sugar. Distribute it well on the aluminum foil.
4. Put the biscuit mixture on top of the cocoa & sugar. Now the tricky part. Shape the mixture into a long cynlinder, like a salami, by wrapping it with the aluminum foil. It has to be compact & hard before you close it.
5. Put it in the freezer for at least 8 hours before serving. It can last for weeks in the freezer. Cut a piece when you need some and put it back immediately to the freezer. Do not leave it for a long time outside the freezer that it starts to thaw. In case it remains outside long, don't put it back in the freezer anymore. Just put it in the fridge and consume it as soon as possible.