Most desserts containing bacon seem, well, a little ham-fisted, but incorporating already-candied bacon into a slightly salty, rich caramel just makes sense. The end result from Baking Out Loud: Fun Desserts with Big Flavors is toothsome, smoky, nutty and sweet.
Reprinted with permission from Baking Out Loud by Hedy Goldsmith. Copyright © 2012. Published by Clarkson Potter. Available wherever books are sold. All rights reserved.
- For the Candied Bacon:
- 1/2 pound thick-sliced bacon
- 1/3 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup (preferably organic)
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- For the Praline:
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup chopped candied bacon
- 2 tablespoons chilled bacon fat (or unsalted butter, at room temperature)
- 1/4 teaspoon fleur de sel or coarse sea salt
For the candied bacon: In a medium bowl, combine the bacon, brown sugar, maple syrup, molasses, and pepper, and stir until the bacon is coated. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or for up to 24 hours.
Position a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 375°F (350°F if using a convection oven). Line a large sheet pan with 1-inch-high sides with foil, and position a wire rack inside the pan.
Arrange the bacon strips on the rack. Bake for 28 to 30 to minutes (20 to 25 minutes if using a convection oven), or until the bacon is dark brown.
Transfer the pan to a wire rack, and let cool for about 10 minutes. Pry the bacon off the wire rack (yep, it will be sticky), and serve immediately, or cool completely and whiz in the food processor until it is finely chopped. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
For the praline: Line a baking sheet with a nonstick liner (parchment paper won’t work for brittle). Grease the bottom of a metal spatula (preferably with Pam).
In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and 2 tablespoons water, and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar is dissolved and the liquid is clear, about 2 minutes. Increase the heat to medium high and bring the mixture to a boil.
Add the pecans and salt, and cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar begins to turn brown on the edges. The sugar will look dry and granular but will melt into a lovely caramel. Continue cooking and stirring for another 4 to 6 minutes, until the caramel is liquid and deep amber.
Slide the pan from the heat, and add the bacon and bacon fat. Stir until the bacon fat is blended in and the bacon is evenly coated with the caramel.
Carefully and quickly pour the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet, and using the greased spatula, spread it into a thin layer. Sprinkle with the fleur de sel. Set aside at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours, or until completely cool and hard. Break into small clusters, and store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.