Eggplants with chocolate
Among the countless creations of the Amalfi confectionery tradition, one of the most famous and appreciated is the aubergine with chocolate (in dialect “mulignana cu ‘a ciucculata“), a typical dessert from Maiori and prepared throughout the Amalfi Coast. To those who have never tasted it, this combination might seem like the work of some child struggling with his first experiments in the kitchen. Eggplant is a vegetable that we usually enjoy in savory preparations and the combination with chocolate is a little unusual, but it is really very tasty. It is usually prepared on August 15th, on the occasion of the Feast of the Assumption.
What are its origins? Like any self-respecting traditional recipe, aubergines with chocolate also have origins claimed left and right. There are two most accredited versions. The first attributes the recipe to the Augustinian nuns of Santa Maria della Misericordia, to whom other delicious desserts are also attributed. The recipe was later donated to local pastry chefs, becoming part of the culinary tradition of both the Amalfi and Sorrento coasts. The second version instead says that it is the work of the monks of an ancient convent in Tramonti. These people used to prepare fried aubergines which they then seasoned with a sweet and liqueur mixture (subsequently replaced by chocolate).
The fact is that aubergines with chocolate have withstood the test of time. Today every pastry chef on the coast has his own recipe and there is no shortage of excellent reinterpretations, including that of the famous pastry chef from Minori Salvatore De Riso. To accompany them there is nothing better than Concerto, a dark and very dense distillate of aromatic herbs, with a unique and unmistakable taste.
For those who want to prepare them at home, here is the recipe.
1 kg of aubergines (straight, tapered, not too large in diameter)
1/2 kg of dark chocolate
1 pack of cocoa powder
200 grams of almonds
1 pack of amaretti
1/4 of milk
flour to taste
salt to taste
The preparation, which is very reminiscent of that of aubergine parmigiana, involves several steps, apparently simple but which include techniques to be carried out very carefully for a successful dish.
After washing them, the aubergines should be peeled and cut into large slices, not too thin but not too thick. They are covered with salt and left to rest in a colander for an hour (so that they lose their bitterness). Then they must be rinsed once more and fried twice. First naked, then they are dipped in flour and dipped in a mixture of eggs and milk and fried again.
Now they should be left to drain and rest. In the meantime, prepare the chocolate cream by melting the cocoa and dark chocolate in the milk. If necessary, add more milk until the consistency is just a little more liquid than a custard. Once you have reached the right density you can blend the almonds, amaretti biscuits and a piece of chocolate.
Now the aubergine slices (well removed from excess frying oil) are first dipped once in the chocolate cream and then arranged in layers on a serving plate. Each layer must be covered with the cream and a handful of the previously blended grains composed of almonds, amaretti biscuits and dark chocolate. Once the preparation has been completed, it should be left to rest in the fridge for at least a couple of hours, even better if it stays overnight. At this point the “mulignana cu a cioccolata” is ready to be enjoyed.
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