“I know you have something underneath,” she said, “But it still kind of freaks me out!”
Thankfully, this retro-pervert look won’t last much longer since my laundry is almost done drying downstairs 🙂
Instead of repeatedly checking the New York Times Liveblog for power, cellular service, and transportation updates, I have decided to put my mandatory stay-cation to good use: I will wrap up some blog posts that have been sitting in draft limbo! This one was slated to go up right after the Brooklyn Bacon Takedown, but sadly got postponed following a visit from my mother and an anticipated visit from my father.
Prior to settling on this recipe, I bopped around a bunch of ideas for the Takedown. I thought about making bacon-crusted, bacon-fat fried chicken, but decided that fried food was kind of risky for a multi-hour event. Then I had this idea to make mini bacon-Velveeta éclairs. However, the idea of hand-piping about 300 little choux pastries felt too ambitious. Then I considered making bacon-pecan sticky buns in a giant tray, but worried about even baking. In the end, I went with individually wrapped nougats, reasoning that having everything done ahead of time would ultimately be less stressful the day if the event.
Even though I didn’t win, I was very happy with the candies — which I thought were amazing. The spiced nuts and the candied bacon were a delectable combination, and the nougat was divinely fluffy.
The results were so good that a re-worked, more Bourbon-y version will probably appear on my friend’s website to be sold. Another batch will need to be made and photographed for the site first, which means that a larger circle of friends — including dear ones in Europe — can expect a little present in the mail probably before Thanksgiving. I would have sent along some of the remaining candies from the first, but it took me a while to get organized after the event. I worried that they wouldn’t survive the long trans-Atlantic shipping, and the speed of domestic mail won out!
Again, many congratulations to Adrian Ashby for winning People’s Choice with his Sex-In-Your-Mouth Bacon-Nutella Brownies. Although I can be wickedly competitive, the sight of a man crying out of happiness at the sight of a giant check for a year’s worth of bacon cannot help but melt my heart!
For more photos of the event, click here.
For the maple-candied bacon:
1 pound bacon
1/4 cup of maple syrup
2 tablespoons of maple sugar
For the ancho chili-spiced pecans:
8 ounces of roughly chopped raw pecans
A pinch of cayenne pepper
A pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon of Ancho chili powder
For the nougat:
2 egg whites at room temperature
1 1/2 cups of sugar
1/4 cup of maple syrup
3/4 cup of light corn syrup
1/2 cup of water
1 tablespoon of corn starch
1 tablespoon of Bourbon
A heavy-duty stand mixer
A candy thermometer
How to prepare:
1. Preheat oven to 400°. Arrange the bacon in a single layer on a half-sheet pan. Roast the bacon for about 20 minutes to render the fat. Lower the oven temperature to 350° and remove the bacon from the oven. Pour off the liquid fat. Brush the bacon on both sides with 1/4 cup of maple syrup. Evenly sprinkle 1 tablespoon of maple sugar onto the bacon. Return the bacon to the oven and roast for 15 minutes. Flip the bacon and sprinkle the other side with the remaining tablespoon of maple sugar. Continue roasting the bacon until the sugars have caramelized and the bacon is crispy, about 15-20 minutes more. Let the bacon drain on a wire rack until it is cool enough to handle. Using scissors, cut the bacon into small pieces.
2. Drop the oven temperature to 300°. In a small baking dish, very lightly drizzle the pecan pieces with maple syrup. Add the cayenne pepper, salt, and Ancho chili powder. Toss everything together until the nuts are evenly coated with the maple-spice mixture. Roast the nuts carefully, stirring them every 5 minutes or so until they have a candy coating. Remove from the oven and spread the nuts out on a large piece of parchment paper to cool.
3. Take the eggs out and set them on the counter. Line a pan with parchment paper so that the paper comes up and over the sides. Lightly coat the paper with non-stick spray and a light dusting of cornstarch.
4. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar, the maple syrup, the corn syrup, the water, the Bourbon, and the corn starch over medium heat. Stir occasionally until the sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture becomes smooth. Insert a candy thermometer. Do not stir anymore.
5. When the temperature reaches 240°, separate the egg whites into the bowl of a large standing mixer. Begin to slowly whip the whites. Try to time it so that the egg whites make soft peaks at the same time that the syrup reaches 285°.
6. When the syrup reaches 285°, remove it the stove. With the mixer now on high speed, slowly add the syrup to the whites in a steady steam. Continue mixing the nougat until it is shiny and glossy.
7. When the nougat is the right consistency, fold in the bacon and the nuts as quickly as possible. Turn the nougat out into the parchment paper-lined pan. Using oiled hands, evenly press it out. Let it cool completely, about 2-3 hours.
8. When the nougat is cool, cut it into 1-inch pieces.