You can blame my cousin John for this.
The guy just had to go and tell me about the "pig's blood cookies" that our grandfather used to like so damned much.
I love my family, I do. But sometimes...
I'm not gonna torture you here, okay. I used real pig's blood in this dessert. There are pictures that I took along the way, but I'm not going to show them to you. (Hey, I put a lot of effort into attracting readers, not begging them to stay the hell away from me.)
What we'll do here is just stick to the facts and move along.
First of all, my cousin John's memory may not be entirely reliable. It's more likely that our grandfather enjoyed not a "blood cookie" but a blood pudding served with cookies. That's the way our Aunt Anna remembers it. And much as I respect my cousin, he would have been just a child at the time.
Tradition also supports my aunt's theory. A dessert known as sanguinaccio dolce (basically a blood pudding that's made to be sweet) goes back generations in Italian culture. And it is often served with some type of crisp cookie.
My version of sanguinaccio dolce is anything but traditional, in method or spirit. In my grandfather's day the blood used to make the pudding would have come from freshly slaughtered pigs, because it was considered wrong to waste any part of an animal killed for food. I got my pig's blood out of the freezer case at a local Asian market; it came from New Jersey. My motives weren't so honorable either: An unusual-sounding food became known to me (thanks to my rotten cousin) and so I simply had to try it.
I also learned that this pudding often is associated with Carnevale. And so today being the final day of the annual celebration ("Fat Tuesday" as it's know in the U.S.) I decided to make a batch of sanguinaccio dolce and get this whole matter behind me once and for all. I searched far and wide for a recipe but wound up winging it a little, just so that I could make as small a batch as I could.
I don't expect a single one of you to try making this. I doubt that I will again. Not because it doesn't taste good. It does. In fact, the taste is very rich, maybe even a bit too rich.
It's just that even the modern Italians have largely moved away from this ancient preparation, and I can't see a good reason why I would want to hold fast to it.
I'm not so sure my grandfather would have either.
1 cup pig's blood
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup almonds, chopped fine
1/4 cup hazelnuts, chopped fine
1/2 cup dark chocolate
1/2 cup milk chocolate
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
Run the blood through a sieve and then add it to the milk in a double boiler over medium heat.
Stir in the spices and sugar.
Add the nuts and the chocolate and stir.
When the pudding is the consistency of heavy cream remove it from the stovetop, pour into a bowl and refrigerate until cold.
Serve in bowls with crisp cookies of your choice.