Sunday, May 16, 2010

Bacon as Candy

My friends, who know of my love of bacon, have been trying to get me on the "bacon candy" train for years now. I've been emailed a number of recipes, most recently by my friend Elizabeth, and after reading my friend Justin's hilarious account of his own try at this last week I decided that I might as well try it, too. After that, I'm going to jump off of a bridge because all of my friends are doing it.

Anyway, in reviewing a number of techniques and suggestions, I decided that I would keep my attempt simple:

the ingredients

Dark chocolate and bacon. Simple, classic culinary horror. Some people add alcohol, some people add pepper or chili powder, some recipes call for a sprinkling of chopped nuts, but I decided that it was better to let the bacon and the chocolate speak for itself. "Simple ingredients, prepared well" is the cornerstone philosophy of many cooking styles, although I get the distinct impression that this isn't the kind of recipe they had in mind.

While picking out the chocolate was easy, picking out the bacon was a bit of a challenge. This may come as a surprise to many of my friends, but I don't actually buy that much bacon, and only buy pork bacon when a recipe calls for it. Otherwise, I go with turkey bacon because it is low fat and stays flat when you microwave it. Anyway, in looking for bacon for this recipe I decided to avoid flavored bacon, like the maple cured, and to get a standard size rather than thick cut, because I think regular bacon gets crispier.

(Thick cut is recommended for the "glazed bacon" variation of bacon candy, where the bacon is baked on a sheet tray with a glaze that usually includes brown sugar and/or maple syrup. Greasy Lisa used a variation of this technique to win an elimination challenge and trip to Italy on season 4 of "Top Chef".)

Cooking the bacon was easy enough. Preheat the oven, cover a cookie sheet in parchment paper (some recipes said to do this and some didn't, but it seemed like it would make the cleanup easiest), and pop it in for 25 minutes:

bacon in the oven

It crisps right up, and stays mostly flat:

cooked bacon

It comes out swimming in an ocean of bacon grease, though. If you try making bacon this way, be sure to use a rimmed cookie sheet. If possible, use a raised rack on a rimmed cookie sheet, so that the grease drips off. Since I didn't have a raised rack, I fished the bacon out with tongs and set it on a plate covered with folded paper towels to drain.

While the bacon was draining and cooling, I got to work on the chocolate, using the improvised double boiler that I figured out when I made that Christmas chocolate bark that no one liked a few years ago.

melting chocolate (1)

melting chocolate (2)

melted chocolate

A few pointers before anyone tries this:

1) Make sure your bowl is wide enough not to fall into the pot. I refuse to explain how I know this is the kind of problem that needs to be pointed out.

2) Make sure your bowl is oven-safe, because it will get really hot. Fortunately, I have never exploded a dish in this fashion, but I know people who have.

3) Make sure that the bottom of the bowl is above the boiling water, not in it. If the chocolate gets too hot, it will start to crystallize. This is what happens to chocolate almost every single time I microwave it for melting.

With the bacon cooked and the chocolate melted, I was ready to go. Using a silicone basting brush (because it's nonstick), I started coating my bacon on one side:

side one

Once it was painted, I chilled it in the freezer:


and turned it over to paint the other side:

side two

Once that was done, I chilled it again, and then ate some.

And it turns out that I kind of don't like it.

I like chocolate with salty things in it. Chocolate covered pretzels, chocolate caramels with sea salt on top, stuff like that. And I liked the taste of the bacon with the chocolate, but the problem was that there was too much chocolate. Even though I painted it on thinly and evenly, the overall effect is kind of like a candy bar with a piece of bacon inside, and hardly seemed worth all the effort, especially when you can just order a candy bar with bacon in it from amazon.

While this was an interesting novelty, I don't think I'll be making it again.


Sean said...

I just cooked up a bunch of bacon myself this morning, but that was for my omelette. I just can't bring myself to eat it slathered in chocolate...

Elizabeth said...

I'm glad you tried it. Sorry it wasn't very good. We're having bacon, eggs, and sausage for dinner tonight.

JMBower said...

I'm glad to have helped inspire this (thanks for the shout-out:))

I had somewhat the same reaction re: too much chocolate. I remain determined to master this. Maybe if bacon grease was mixed in with the melted chocolate to infuse the whole thing with bacony flavor...

Though I'm not sure what that might do to the consistency of chocolate.

I do applaud your double boiler innovation. That looked to work much better than my method.

strong cookie. said...

I am mesmerized by this.

Skald said...

I did something similar recently. I made chocolate bacon brownies. They were ok, but I over mixed the APF and it turned out thicker than a yard of lard.