This is the second dish in this year’s nostalgia-themed holiday menu. And yes, we’re skipping right to dessert. It doesn’t appear to make sense, I realize that. But I figured this was the best place to put this Chocolate and Cheese Dessert Board because this is one of two dessert options. Yes, you have another dessert coming to you and I promise it will be more appropriately placed chronologically speaking. And when it comes to dessert and sugary things in general it pays to spread them out. Plus, this is a board and the Jalapeño Cold Pack appeared on a board, so they sort of make sense as a duo. Sort of. It doesn’t matter. What matters is this Chocolate and Cheese Dessert Board delivers elegant salty-sweet bliss. So let’s talk about it!
As I mentioned, this board is part of my holiday nostalgia-themed menu. The memories behind this treat are fairly recent. A few years back my partner Sunny and I went to Paris for Christmas. He and I are both December babies so we had plenty to celebrate. And while we were there we definitely ate our fair share of eclairs, macarons, and madeleines. But more often than not we order the cheese plate for dessert.
Have you ever ordered cheese for dessert in Paris? It’s an event in many places. They wheel out a cart full of cheese and you select a few, carve off as much as you want, and then they wheel the cart away and leave you to face your choices. And I say that because more than once my eyes were too big for my stomach. But I regret nothing. The cheese in France is on another level. I have a particularly fond memory of piling a creamy blue onto a cracker and dousing it with honey. If you haven’t experienced this flavor combo, run don’t walk. It works on so many levels and if you’re new to blue or think you’re not a fan, this is a gentler way to become better acquainted.
Okay, so that’s enough context, let’s talk about what’s on this board. We’re going to start with the most labor-intensive item – the dark chocolate salami. Now, I realize chocolate salami is not French it is Italian and Portuguese. But I thought it would be fun to add it to a chocolate and cheese board since it’s as close as dessert gets to being charcuterie. I briefly thought of adding a chocolate terrine but honestly, this board already had so much going on.
Although I described the dark chocolate salami as “labor-intensive” I only meant that in comparison to everything else on the board. Chocolate salami is not hard to make. If you’ve made chocolate ganache before, you have this one in the bag because that is essentially all you’re doing. Basically, you start by bashing some digestive cookies. You can use any dry crumbly cookie you want here. Nilla Wafers, ginger snaps, anything that will break into shards. And don’t obliterate the cookies. Crumble them into chunky pieces. Make sure you’re not left with just crumbs.
Next, think about your mix-ins. I went with pistachios and dried apricots but you can select whatever nut and/or dried fruit you wish. I particularly like the pistachio here, though. That pop of green really sells the whole Chocolate and Cheese Dessert Board. But if you’re not a pistachio fan you could try almonds or hazelnuts here instead.
Now, we’re moving on to the ganache portion of the recipe. Ganache is one of the easiest things to make on the planet. All you have to do is pile chocolate and butter into a bowl and pour hot cream over top. Let everything sit for a minute then whisk it all together until smooth. If some chunks of chocolate or butter are stubborn, pop the bowl in the microwave and heat it for 30 seconds. Everything should smooth out after that.
Pour the cookies and the mix-ins into the ganache and toss to coat. Transfer everything to a large piece of plastic wrap and roll it into a log. Secure the ends tightly by twisting and hold them in place with butcher’s twine. This recipe makes a large chocolate salami, so you could split it in two and make two smaller salamis instead. They are easier to form when they are smaller. Chill the salami for four hours. You will find that your salami will develop a flat side if you lay it flat in the fridge. To avoid that you can either hang the salami inside the fridge or, if that’s not possible, chill the salami for two hours and then refine the shape. You want the ganache to set up just enough to be mouldable but not solid.
Once the salami is chilled, the rest of this board is a snap. Arrange some fresh and dried fruit on the board. I opted for figs, golden berries, and dried apricots but again, add whatever tickles your fancy. Pears would be lovely with the blue, by the way. And speaking of blue, add it to the board. The cheese pictured is St. Agur but any creamy, mellow blue would be perfect here. If you really can’t stand blue cheese try adding a creamy brie instead. In either case, add honey. You won’t be sorry. Next, add some nuts. I added more pistachios but almonds or cashews would be perfect. And I always add a little milk chocolate because I quite like it even if it’s not particularly “foodie” of me.
The last thing you want to add to the board is the dark chocolate salami because it is the most sensitive to heat. So just prior to serving take the salami out of the fridge and unwrap it. Dust it all over with powdered sugar and slice. Arrange the slices on the board and serve immediately. Depending on how many people your board is feeding, you will likely have salami left over. It keeps very well in the fridge for weeks and it makes a great host/hostess gift for all your holiday soirées.
And that’s everything you need to know about this Chocolate and Cheese Dessert Board. A simple, sophisticated way to satisfy the sweet tooths of your guests this holiday season.
Chocolate and Cheese Dessert Board
- 1 small saucepan
- 1 Rolling Pin
- Plastic wrap
- Butcher's Twine
- 340g (10oz) Digestive cookies
- ½ cup dried apricots coarsely chopped
- ½ cup roasted pistachios lightly salted
- 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter chopped
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 oz port **
- powdered sugar for dusting
For the Board
- 1 piece St. Agur
- 1 bar milk chocolate I used fruit and nut
- 6-8 figs quartered
- ⅓ cup golden berries
- ⅓ cup dried apricots
- ⅓ roasted pistachios lightly salted
- 2 tbsp honey
For the Dark Chocolate Salami
- Wrap the cookies in parchment paper or place them in a freezer bag and lightly crush them with a rolling pin. You want them only coarsely crushed. Transfer them to a bowl and add the pistachios and apricots. Set them aside.340g (10oz) Digestive cookies, ½ cup dried apricots, ½ cup roasted pistachios
- Place the chocolate chips in a bowl and add the butter. Pour the cream into a small saucepan and place over medium heat. Heat the cream until on the verge of boiling. Take it off of the heat and pour it over the butter and chocolate. Let stand for 1 minute.2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, 4 tbsp unsalted butter, 1 cup heavy cream
- When the minute is up, whisk the chocolate, butter, and cream together until smooth. *** Whisk in the port and add the cookies, pistachios, and apricots. Toss to coat.1 oz port **
- Place several pieces of plastic wrap on a clean counter overlapping each other. Pour the chocolate mixture into the center of the plastic wrap. Take the end of the plastic wrap closest to you and fold it away from you. Continue to roll until you have a log. Twist the ends to create a tight seal and tension. Secure the ends with butcher's twine. Transfer the salami to the fridge and chill for 2 hours.
- When the two hours are up, take the salami out of the fridge. You may notice the salami formed a flat side on the bottom. The ganache should be set enough to be mouldable at this point but not fully set. Roll the salami on a flat surface to refine the shape. Return the salami to the fridge and chill for another 2 hours.
To Build the Board
- Arrange the figs, golden berries, milk choclate, dried apricots, pistachios, honey, and St. Agur on the board.1 piece St. Agur, 6-8 figs, ⅓ cup golden berries, ⅓ cup dried apricots, ⅓ roasted pistachios, 2 tbsp honey, 1 bar milk chocolate
- When ready to serve take the salami out and dust it all over with powdered sugar. Slice a 1/4 of the salami and arrange the slices on the board.**** Serve immediately.powdered sugar