The holidays are upon us and all of the traditional flavors are out in full force—peppermint, gingerbread, and egg nog. Sometimes though, it doesn’t hurt to train something different and a little bit adventurous. A friend decided to throw a Christmas bacon-themed party (playing off the Christmas ham tradition) and encouraged a pot luck of bacon-focused dishes. The number of bacon dishes was overwhelming and incredibly varied. Bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers, BLT dip, bacon-wrapped dates, cheddar bacon dip, BBQ bacon-wrapped water chestnuts, and so much more. It was delicious.
Before I found out this was a competition (Mel loves a good competition), I tried to do some recon into what people were bringing. There was a surprising lack of desserts and I thought why not try out the sweet side of bacon. I will not lie to you, these are rich but wonderful. Little bit of a bacon surprise when you bite into the chocolate truffle! Heads up, you need some time for this one but the end result is great!
1/2 lb bacon
1/2 c bourbon
1.5 c heavy cream
1/2 tsp sea salt
1.5 lbs semi-sweet chocolate chips
¼ c brown sugar
2 tbsp water
¼ tsp baking soda
18 oz chocolate almond bark
2 tbsp shortening (or bacon fat)
Start by slicing your bacon into thin strips (think less than ¼”) and fry the bacon until crisp. Strain the bacon pieces. (Reserve the bacon fat if you are without shortening for the truffle topping.)
Reserve ¼ cup of the cooked bacon and place the remainder back on the stove top at medium heat in your pan. Add the ½ cup bourbon (I used Maker’s Mark—it’s a personal favorite.) and cook off the alcohol. Should take 3 minutes.
Add the heavy cream and salt to the bacon. Bring everything to a boil then turn off the heat and let the cream mixture sit for 20 minutes. The cream will become infused with the bacon and bourbon flavors. While the cream sits, place your semi-sweet chocolate chips in a glass bowl and set aside. After 20 minutes, turn the heat on medium-low and warm the cream mixture through.
Once the cream mixture is heated through, pour it over the chocolate chips and let sit for 5 minutes. The chocolate will be soft and shiny. Stir until smooth. The bacon bits should be evenly incorporated. Pour the chocolate bacon mixture into a glass baking dish lined with plastic wrap. Cover the chocolate as well and place the refrigerator until firm (3–4 hours).
While the chocolate is firming up, take the reserved bacon and place it in a skillet on the stove at medium-high heat. Add the ¼ c brown sugar and 2 tsbp water. Cook until caramel covered. Stir often. When the mixture is caramel covered, remove from heat and mix in ¼ tsp baking soda. Stir quickly. It will start to bubble. Pour the topping onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet and spread with a wooden spoon. Allow the brickle topping to cool completely before placing in a food processor to break up into a crumply topping. Set aside until you are ready to coat the truffles.
Once the truffle filling is firm, divide into little balls (I used a cookie dough scoop dipped in hot water to scope out the firm chocolate) and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes to firm up. Take out the frozen balls and roll them into smooth balls. Place in the freezer while you prepare the chocolate coating.
Melt almond bark coating either in a glass bowl placed onto of a saucepan with hot water (not boiling) or in a saucepan over very low heat. I prefer to place the bark directly in the sauce pan and melt slowly over low heat for about 7-8 minutes.
Use a long tined fork to dip the frozen truffles, one by one. Remove the excess chocolate by tapping the fork on the side of the pan. Place the truffle on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and top with the brickle bacon topping immediately. Place in the fridge to harden the coating. Then transfer to an airtight container; keep in the fridge for up to 4 weeks (if you last that long). This recipe makes about 48 quarter-sized truffles.
Majorly adapted from Michael Ruhlman