One Heartbreaking Failure (maybe 6) and a Cracking Caramel Recipe (Candied Bacon Salted Caramel to be precise)
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.
Recipe: Candied Bacon Salted Caramel
8 slices of streaky bacon
8 heaped tbsp light brown sugar
500g white sugar
1 heaped tsp sea salt
a thermometer for perfect results
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.