Chocolate Salami Tomfoolery

Our faithful readers know that we like to give you a little history lesson along with your recipe. I had intended to give you some information on the origins of April Fool’s Day, however, it seems that the joke's on us. Many believe that the first mention of the “holiday” was in Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales published in 1392, while others debunk this theory. It would take many (many) paragraphs to share what the folks at The Museum of Hoaxes have already done very nicely.

So, regardless of how we got here, April 1st is the day for our loved ones to completely terrorize us and freak us out. I prefer the kinder, subtler form of deception: illusions that will both surprise and delight. And as tomfoolery goes, this chocolate salami is one of the best. Lay these out on a cutting board, perhaps as part of a cheese course, and watch as your guests discover a whimsical and festive chocolate dessert hidden inside the chameleon clothing of cured meat.

In truth, this is not salami at all, but chocolate, nuts, confectioner's sugar and other simple ingredients combined to create a trompe l'oeil illusion of a cured salami. Even after you cut into it, the trickery continues until it is tasted, then all illusions are over. "Salame al cioccolato" is a traditional Tuscan dessert, that is actually a popular Christmas treat.

1 - 12 oz. package of chocolate chips
¾ stick butter
2 tablespoons liqueur (Amaretto, Kahlua, Cointreau)
¼ cup cocoa powder
¾ cup nuts (almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts, walnuts), chopped
¾ cup cookies, crushed
Confectioner’s sugar for dusting

Melt together the chocolate and butter in the microwave on medium for about 1 minute. Remove from the microwave and stir. Repeat heating at shorter intervals, 20 to 30 seconds, stirring in between, until the chocolate is completely melted and has a smooth consistency. Be forewarned, melted chocolate can be messy…

Stir the cocoa powder and liqueur (or extract) into the melted chocolate. We used Amaretto, but if you prefer a non-alcoholic version, simply use vanilla extract or strong coffee instead. Add the nuts, cookie pieces and stir until combined. For the cookies, any dry plain cookie will work. Cover the bowl and refrigerate until it becomes firm enough to form, about 20-30 minutes.

Divide the chocolate mixture in half. Place half of the mixture in the center of a piece of plastic wrap. Using a spatula, form the mixture into a log, about 7 inches long and 2 inches in diameter.

Roll up the log in the plastic and twist the ends to seal. Roll back and forth on a work surface a few times to make the log evenly round. Repeat with the remaining chocolate mixture. Refrigerate the logs until firm, about 1 more hour.

Spread the confectioners' sugar on a baking sheet. Remove the plastic wrap from the logs, then roll them in the sugar until coated. Using a pastry brush, brush away the excess sugar. Let the logs sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut the logs into 1/2-inch-thick slices and serve.