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


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.


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.


Recipe: Smokin’ Hot Red Eye Ribs

Smokin' Hot Red Eye Ribs

Now I loved that bacon jam. And it opened my eyes to using coffee in a marinade. Why not? It worked so well there it was bound to be a winner. Then a friend told me about red eye gravy, a coffee gravy served over ham in the American deep South. Coffee and pork are two of my favourite things in this world. The die was cast.

Pork ribs are a much under valued and underused cut of meat. So cheap, so full of flavour, I expect it must be because people don’t know what to do with them. (fyi – in response to a comment below – I am of course referring to the UK & Ireland here. I know they eat lots of them elsewhere). Marinaded ribs are wonderful on the BBQ but also great cooked low and slow in the oven until the meat teases slowly from the bone. Then, and only then, are they are ready to eat.

Smokin' Hot Red Eye Ribs

The secret to all marinaded meat recipes is time, so make sure you marinade them for long enough. Aim for a minimum 2 hours, overnight is best. I used chipotle in adobo again in these, it is one of my favourite things to use at the moment. So versatile with a rich smoky heat. You can get it online quite easily if you are not an urbanite like myself. Otherwise substitute with your favourite chilli, or chipotle chilles (dried or fresh).

Now when choosing pork ribs you have two options: baby back ribs or spare ribs. I love both and on this occasion had some pork spare ribs to try from the London Fine Meat Company, an online butchers based in London. The ribs were big and meaty and delivered at £4.70 a pack (approx 12 big ribs in each). I will use them again, time is such a precious commodity these days.

I made these for friends and they loved them, hope you enjoy them too. These ribs were big so 3 per person was perfect. You may choose to make more, and why not when you are roasting them for so long. You might as well make the most of the oven. Shredded leftovers would make a great sandwich filling or Asian noodle salad.

Recipe: Smokin’ Hot Red Eye Ribs

Serves 2

6 pork spare ribs


500ml fresh brewed coffee
3 chipotles & 3 teaspoons of the adobo sauce (or substitute with chilli), finely chopped
80 ml cider vinegar
4 tbsp rich brown sugar like molasses sugar
4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
generous pinch of sea salt

Combine all ingredients for the marinade and massage ito the ribs. Cover and refrigerate for minimmum 2 hours, preferably overnight.
Preheat the oven to 150 deg C.
Put the ribs and marinade in a high sided tin and cover with foil.
Roast gently for 2.5 – 3 hours until the meat pulls off the bone, basting with the juices every half an hour.
Rest the ribs for 5 minutes under foil before serving. If the marinade hasn’t reduced to a sticky sauce (it should haev), reduce gebntly over a medium heat in a saucepan and serve poured on top of the ribs.
Eat with your fingers! It’s wrong not to.