This has been a lucky year full of wonderful surprises and accomplishments. I stepped out of my comfort zone to pursue my dream of working in food, turning my passion for Mediterranean cooking and leftovers into a job description I made up for myself:
Professional Foodie. I am still not exactly sure what path lies ahead of me, but I am sure I am at least going the right way as it seems I have been rewarded each step of the way. I have met so many lovely foodies online from all over the world and have gotten little signs everywhere confirming that I am on the right path. One of these signs is a great honor I have been given. I am so excited about it that I can hardly contain my enthusiasm. I have been asked to participate in a very special food blogging event.
Shelley from At Home in Rome lives in Rome (Obviously), which just so happens to be Robertoâ€™s hometown. She also just so happens to know Gina DePalma, the pastry chef for
Mario Bataliâ€™s Babbo Restaurant in New York City.
Ginaâ€™s newest cookbook: Dolce Italiano: Desserts from the Babbo Kitchen has just come out and in order to commemorate this event, Shelley, along with a few of us fortunate food bloggers have had the honor to try two recipes from Ginaâ€™s new cookbook and blog about it. How fun is that?!
But that is not where the fun ends â€“ oh no siree â€“ you too can join in too. Go blog hopping with us and comment on each Dolce Italiano post on each of our blogs and you will be entered in a contest to win a Dolce Italiano cookbook signed by Gina herself (who is such a nice person to boot!).
Here is how you enter: Check out each of these blogs on the days mentioned (if you are just hearing about this contest for the first time, be sure that you go to visit all these blogs for their posts THIS week) and then comment on the post about Dolce Italiano. Do the same next week and you will have 10 chances to win that book! Here are the other great blogs and the days you need to visit them:
MONDAY: Sara â€“ Ms. Adventures in Italy
TUESDAY: Ilva â€“ Lucullian Delights
WEDNESDAY: Sognatrice â€“ Bleeding Espresso
THURSDAY: Shelley â€“ At Home in Rome
FRIDAY: Jenn â€“ The Leftover Queen – RIGHT HERE!
Gina DePalmaâ€™s Dolce Italiano is a must have for foodies that love Italian food. Even for someone like me, who does not fancy herself a baker or pastry person, despite all the baking I have been doing through the Daring Bakers, I found the recipes to be well-explained, unique and wonderful â€“ just full of the flavors of Italy. It is also a fun book to read! I can really relate to Ginaâ€™s intense passion for the food she makes and also her story as an Italian American deeply in touch with the foods of her roots. I am so excited to have this wonderful cookbook in my collection as I know I will be using it often!
So on to the great recipe!
One of my choices of recipe just had to be Salame di Cioccolato. This is a dessert that every child in Italy has had. It is like Nutella, ubiquitous when talking about the foods of Italy for kids. I first heard about Chocolate Salami from Roberto when I asked him what the first thing he remembers cooking was. This was it. Apparently there is (at least when he was a bambino) what he describes as a Disney/ Boy Scout guidebook for kids in Italy known as Manuale delle Giovani Marmotte (Jr. Woodchucks Guidebook) and a recipe for Chocolate Salami was in his version of the book. In his memory it was crushed up cookies and cocoa powder rolled up, chilled and then sliced. Well, as soon as I saw the upgraded, new and improved version in Ginaâ€™s new cookbook, I knew I had to make it for Roberto and bring him back to his childhood. So we spent the afternoon in the kitchen making this delicious concoction and having a wonderful time. In his opinion it is WAAAAY better than the one from Manuale delle Giovani Marmotte, shocking, isnâ€™t it?
Try a chocolate salami today!
Salame di Cioccolato (Chocolate Salami)
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (I used Ghiradelli)
4 TBS unsalted butter, softened
2 TBS Dutch-processed cocoa powder (I used Hersheyâ€™s Special Dark)
Â¼ cup boiling water
Â¼ cup whole shelled unsalted pistachios ( I used salted as it was the only available)
Â½ cup whole hazelnuts, skinned or unskinned
Â½ cup sliced almonds, toasted and finely chopped
@ 2 ounces (3/4 cup) of plain cookies such as biscotti or butter cookies crushed into coarse chunks (Gina recommends using Stella Dâ€™Oro original cookies or anisette toasts â€“ I went with the original)
4 large egg yolks
1 cup granulated sugar
1 TBS grappa or dark rum (I did not have either, so I subbed Godiva liquor)
freshly grated zest of 1 orange
Confectionerâ€™s sugar for dusting
Melt the chocolate and butter together in a large bowl set over a pan of simmering water, whisking to combine them; set aside in a warm spot (I was making Lasagna this day, so I just set it on top of the stove).
In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and boiling water and set aside. Coarsely chop the pistachios and hazelnuts with a sharp knife and combine them with the chopped almonds and crumbled cookies in a medium bowl.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, use the paddle attachment on medium speed and beat the egg yolks and sugar together until pale yellow and thick (about 1 minute). Beat in the grappa and orange zest.
Whisk in the cocoa mixture into the melted chocolate and butter then add that mixture to the egg mixture and beat to combine.
Add the nut mixture and beat briefly to incorporate the ingredients. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill the mixture until it is firm enough to handle, about 1 hour.
Lightly dust your rolling surface with confectionerâ€™s sugar. Using your hands roll the mixture into a plump log about 2 inches in diameter to resemble salami (we made two smaller salamis so we could eat one and then freeze the other for another occasion). Lightly dust the surface of the salami with more confectionersâ€™ sugar . truly making it look like a real, cured salami. Wrap the salami in a sheet of parchment paper and twist the ends. Chill for 2 more hours.
To serve, cut thin slices, either straight or on the bias. I served mine with a pomegranate syrup drizzle. Wrap any leftovers in plastic wrap. The salami may be kept, wrapped and chilled, for up to three days.