“I used to always request chocolate biscuit cake (also known as fridge cake) as my birthday cake, which was a blow to my mum because she had a special talent for inventive cake decoration, and chocolate biscuit cake is almost impossible to decorate,” says food writer Letitia Clark.
“Nevertheless, this combination of broken biscuits, chocolate and butter was my favourite cake as a child; strange on many counts, as generally I’ve never been a lover of chocolate, and it isn’t really a cake. Anyway, I loved it, and I still love it, and I also love its Italian cousin, which has the added bonus of being shaped like a salame.”
Makes: one very large salame, or two modest salami
- 80g (3oz) hazelnuts
- 200g (7oz) biscuits (any simple, dry, not-too-sweet biscuit)
- 250g (9oz) dark chocolate (at least 70 per cent cocoa solids)
- 150g (5oz) butter (at room temperature)
- 120g (4oz/1/2 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 tablespoon cocoa (unsweetened chocolate) powder
- 80g (3oz) dried cherries (you can substitute cranberries or any other fruit you wish)
- icing sugar, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C (340 degrees F/Gas 3). Lay the hazelnuts over the base of a baking sheet. Toast them in the oven for 10 minutes or so until lightly golden. Remove and set aside to cool, then roughly chop (or crush them briefly with a rolling pin).
Break up the biscuits by putting them in a bag and bashing them with a rolling pin or by blitzing them quickly in a food processor. It is important they stay in fairly large pieces – you’re not aiming for crumbs.
Melt the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water (or in a microwave). Allow it to cool for a few minutes.
Beat the butter, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl using an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Whisk in the beaten eggs, a little at a time, to form a smooth batter. Add the cocoa powder and the cooled, melted chocolate. Add the broken biscuits and the dried cherries and stir well to combine. Add the hazelnuts and stir again.
Read: Cherry Ripe Slice
Scoop the mixture out (it will look quite sticky at this stage) onto a rectangle of clingfilm (plastic wrap), aiming for a sort of long oblong shape. Place another piece of clingfilm the same size over the top and wrap the sausage completely. Roll it in your hands to smooth out the shape and then twist the ends. Place it in the fridge to chill.
Once solid and nicely firm, unsheathe your sausage and dust in icing sugar, and either wrap it in baking parchment if giving it as a gift or, if you want to go the whole hog, tie it up as you would a proper salami. There are some very instructive videos on YouTube about how to tie salami properly, if you are so inclined. Will keep for up to one week, covered, in the fridge.
Note: I use Oro biscuits, which are the Italian equivalent of Rich Teas. If you want to make this fancy, you can use Amaretti, Digestives, Hob Nobs, any kind of basic biscuit will work, really, perhaps just steer clear of pink wafers. Ginger biscuits are also nice.
La Vita e Dolce by Letitia Clark is published by Hardie Grant. Photography by Charlotte Bland. Available now.
What was your favourite birthday treat as a child? Why not share it in the comments section below?
– With PA
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