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One Heartbreaking Failure (maybe 6) and a Cracking Caramel Recipe (Candied Bacon Salted Caramel to be precise)

Golden chocolate eggs filled with candied bacon salted caramel

Golden chocolate eggs filled with candied bacon salted caramel

What exactly is that? A slightly odd looking chocolate egg in the foreground with just a touch of bling (to cover its issues), some really odd looking hens eggs covered in chocolate behind, and a jar of goo?

That, dear readers, is one day of my life, the next morning very early, and a ridiculous eggy photoshoot before I journeyed to Heathrow to get my morning flight yesterday am. My annoyance is conveyed perfectly through the crap photo, I think.

I know. I need to get a grip sometimes.

Worth it though, these are like a pimped and slightly filthy version of Paul A Youngs amazing salted caramel filled chocolate egg, which I had for Easter last year. I have been playing around with bacon A LOT. You know this. This was one of the recipes that I had fun with, then hated, then abandoned, and then gave in. Being a perfectionist leads to a path littered with imperfection as you strive to reach your final goal. It is painful and tortuous, but when you hit it, it is worth it every time.

This wasn’t that.

Let me tell you what I did though. I painfully pierced both ends of eight hens eggs. Then made the hole larger in the broader end before piercing the yolk with a skewer and blowing the content out into a bowl. Then I cleaned and sterilised the eggs by boiling in water and vinegar before drying them for ten further minutes in the oven.

So far so good.

Next I tempered some chocolate the cheats way by melting 800g of dark chocolate, then adding another 250g of unmelted chocolate, and letting it mingle in until the temperature got down to 31 / 32 deg C. Then I filled the eggs with it. After 10 minutes I teased some of the chocolate out and left them cool. What I was left with was a couple of perfect chocolate egg shaped shells, and six mucky deformed ones. I also rammed some egg shell right under my fingernail. Yikes, even I cringe when I remember. It still stings.

But the candied bacon salted caramel that I filled them with? The first time I didn’t quite bring it to temperature. I was lazily using a light brown sugar and misjudged the point where it became caramel, so that the results where a chalky grainy sauce when it cooled down. My second attempt was much more successful, I used white sugar and my thermapen and when the caramel hit over 160 deg C I knew I was home safe. Butter and cream rounded it out, and I used this to fill my perfect egg.

So, have a lovely Easter, and here is my candied bacon salted caramel recipe for you, should you fancy porking it up a bit.

Enjoy!

Golden chocolate eggs filled with candied bacon salted caramel

Golden chocolate eggs filled with candied bacon salted caramel

Recipe: Candied Bacon Salted Caramel

Ingredients

8 slices of streaky bacon
8 heaped tbsp light brown sugar
500g white sugar
200ml water
225ml cream
175g butter
1 heaped tsp sea salt

a thermometer for perfect results

Method

Start by candying your bacon. Preheat your oven to 200 deg C and put one heaped tbsp of sugar on each bacon slice rubbing it in on each side with your fingers. Lay out flat and cook for 10 minutes, turn and lay flat and cook for 10 more minutes. Take each slice out and lay on a buttered plate or greaseproof paper and allow to cool. Chop finely when cold. It is important that you remove it from the oven tray, or it will stick there.

Get cracking on your caramel. Add the white sugar and the water to a pan. Bring to the boil and watch for when the sugar begins to turn golden. You want it when it becomes amber, just before it goes too far. The easiest most painless way is to watch the temperature with a precise thermometer like a thermapen. Once it gets over 160 deg C, you are done.

Whisk in the butter quickly and when assimilated add the cream, the chopped bacon and one heaped teaspoon of sea salt. The bacon will be salty already but depending on how salty it is, you may want to add more (or less).

Store in a sterilised jar in the fridge. I love it on toast or in my Easter egg.

Enjoy!

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Recipe: Bourbon Bacon Chocolate Truffles

Bourbon bacon chocolate truffles

Bourbon bacon chocolate truffles

I have been withholding most of my bacon recipes from you, and for a very good reason which will be revealed in a bit. I am sharing one today though, it was published on Stylist recently for Bacon Connoisseurs Week, and I am sharing it here now so that you can do something delicious for Easter. Here you go: Bourbon Bacon Chocolate Truffles.

What madness is this? What deliciousness lies within? Let me tell you people, these little truffles, balls of intense flavourful delight, will win you friends and appease your enemies.

Candied bacon

Candied bacon

When thinking of bacon in sweets, remember how you first felt when you heard about salted caramel. Right? This is just as good, I say even better.

Bacon and sugar love each other and so they should. Combined in an oven and candied, bacon becomes arnished with a sugar toffee that will snap, and that is the secret ingredient in these truffles.

Bacon bourbon chocolate truffles

Bacon bourbon chocolate truffles

Bourbon has to be invited to the party, mainly because it will be upset if not, its rumbly alcoholic tones complete the trinity.

Have fun, try to share and don’t eat them all at once.

RECIPE: Bourbon Bacon Chocolate Truffles

Ingredients

6 slices of streaky bacon
6 heaped tbsp brown sugar
250 ml cream
250g dark chocolate
25ml bourbon
100g cocoa

Method

Start by candying your bacon. Preheat your oven to 200 deg C and put one heaped tbsp of sugar on each bacon slice rubbing it in on each side with your fingers. Lay out flat and cook for 10 minutes, turn and lay flat and cook for 10 more minutes. Take each slice out and lay on a buttered plate or greaseproof paper and allow to cool. Chop finely when cold. It is important that you remove it from the oven tray, or it will stick there.

Heat the cream until it just shivers, if you boil it it will change the taste and be too hot for the chocolate. Add the chocolate off the heat and stir in to melt until it becomes all glossy, then and add the bourbon and the finely chopped candied bacon. Stir in and leave to chill in the fridge for 2 hours until solid.

Put the cocoa on a plate and scoop out your truffles with a teaspoon, or for a perfect round with a melon baller. I like them to be rough and ready as a bacon truffle would demand. Roll them in the cocoa and then they are ready.

Time to eat them!

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Recipe: Chipotle and Brown Sugar Candied Bacon Honeycomb Butter

Chipotle Brown Sugar Candied Bacon Honeycomb Butter Brioche Toast

Chipotle Brown Sugar Candied Bacon Honeycomb Butter

It is an indulgent time of year, and this recipe is at the pinnacle of indulgence. Despite the bacon, it is a sweet, and is wonderful on pancakes or simply on brioche toast as I have done here. I also fancy some with some eggy bread.

A nod to Bill Granger first. The first time I had honeycomb butter was with his ricotta hotcakes at one of his cafés in Sydney about 6 years ago. I was captured by it. Searches for honeycomb recipes at the time failed, and I was not happy with the alternative of chopping a crunchie and putting it in my butter.

I researched further and figured out it was a simple combination of sugar, brought to temperature and bicarb to make it aerate. I played around with sugar and golden syrup combinations until I got the perfect chewy crisp honeycomb. Too little golden syrup and it is dull and too fragile, too much and you will lose your fillings. I also add a little cider vinegar to boost the bicarb and I add water, as this makes it less likely to fail in the early minutes when it is very easy to scorch the sugar.

Candied Bacon Honeycomb

Candied Bacon Honeycomb

Lovely!

Next is my candied bacon, one of my many recipes for it. This is a recent favourite, a simple light brown sugar and chipotle blend. The bacon is smothered in it, and it is baked until the sugar is approaching toffee. You are left with a wonderful sweet, smoky, hot and savoury candied bacon that is wonderful on its own or – honestly – most things.

Chipotle & Brown Sugar Candied Bacon

Chipotle & Brown Sugar Candied Bacon

Combine the two and mash them into butter? Divine. Just be careful, as in my enthusiasm to devour it, I injured the top of my mouth (slightly) with the sharp honeycomb. Totally worth it though.

Enjoy! It is a cracker. Ban the brandy butter and bring on the bacon and honeycomb butter.

Notes on the recipe: if you can’t get chipotle, substitute chilli. If you don’t want the heat, just omit it.

RECIPE: CHIPOTLE & BROWN SUGAR CANDIED BACON AND HONEYCOMB BUTTER

Chipotle and Brown Sugar Candied Bacon

250g bacon chopped into strips or bacon lardons, I prefer smoked
100g light brown sugar
1 heaped tablespoon of chipotle powder or blitzed dried chipotles

Combine the bacon, sugar and chipotle, insuring every bit of the bacon is covered. Spread on one layer on a buttered greaseproof paper on a baking tray and bake at 180 deg C for 15 – 20 minutes until the sugar is dark and glossy like toffee. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

Candied Bacon Honeycomb

Put 300g white sugar, 150g golden syrup, 1 tbsp cider or white wine vinegar and 100ml water in a pan with high sides – a stockpot for example.

Bring to the hard crack stage over a medium heat – 140 to 150 deg C (and do use a thermometer) – take off the heat and add the 2 tbsp of fresh bicarbonate of soda (it loses potency), ensuring there are no lumps in the bicarb. Stir through, the honeycomb will puff up.

Add two thirds of the candied bacon and stir through. Pour into a dish lined with buttered greaseproof paper. Leave to cool.

Making the butter

Take a palm sized amount of the honeycomb and smash it up in a sandwich bag with a rolling pin or something similar, until it is in small chunks (not powder). Combine well with 250g butter and the rest of the bacon. And you’re done.

Store the rest of the honeycomb for future use in a an airtight container, dip it in tempered chocolate to make homemade bacon crunchies.