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Maple-Candied Bacon and Ancho Chili-Spiced Pecans in Maple-Bourbon Nougat


Today is another day of post-Sandy displacement. I have spent the morning plodding around my friend’s apartment in a trench coat because I didn’t bring a bathrobe with me and the mercury is dropping.

“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 πŸ™‚

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 Γ©clairs. 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 β€” 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 β€” including dear ones in Europe β€” 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.

Ingredients:

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

Maple syrup

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

Special equipment:

A heavy-duty stand mixer

A candy thermometer

Parchment paper

Non-stick spray

How to prepare:

1. Preheat oven to 400Β°. 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 350Β° 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 300Β°. 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 240Β°, 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 285Β°.

6. When the syrup reaches 285Β°, 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.

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34 Comments

  1. OMG … It’s so decadent. I think you’d just have to eat that wearing nothing but a trench coat πŸ™‚

    Retro-perv LOL!

    • Thank you, John! They were delicious. Send me a PM with your address and we’ll try to send some up your way when the next batch gets made!

      I have real clothes on now btw πŸ™‚ My friend is relieved!

      • That would be terrific! I just sent you e-mail to your gmail account. Let me know if it doesn’t reach you…

        I told D. about your creation and she said it sounds so weird it *has* to be good πŸ™‚

        JT

        • Thanks, John! Here’s looking forward to candy-making after power is restored to lower Manhattan!

          (but really, we were pretty lucky considering the level of devastation elsewhere)

    • Maybe!

      Thanks for the kind words and well wishes, Nicole! Just got word from my neighbor that the lights went on in the East Village. Am giving it a couple of hours to make sure. Wouldn’t it be terrible if I went back home and the lights went out again! People would riot!

  2. Sounds very interesting! Once you make that “official” batch, can you please share a link to your friend’s online store?

  3. I hope you can go home soon! Although I bet your friend hopes you’ll stay & keep cooking. πŸ™‚ I might just have to make a batch of those pecans alone….

    • Thanks, Emmy! Just got home last night. On the way downtown, we passed a neighborhood that was still dark. The streets were completely deserted, and I don’t blame anyone for not being there; they were scary! The neighborhood is still slowly coming back to life. Some buildings are still dark. Either residents have not returned yet, or the building itself has electrical problems due to flooding.

      But chez moi is fine. Just need to clean out the fridge and restock. If you make pecans, let me know how it goes!

  4. Hope you will be in your home soon…wishing the same for everyone in the area. So happy that you posted the recipe and can’t wait for your updated version.

    • Thanks, Karen! Just got home last night. Neighborhood is still very quiet, but I’m sure that more residents will return soon. We had it easy by comparison. My heart goes out to those who we hit much harder.

  5. Wow — those brownies must’ve been really good. I can’t believe this didn’t win! And so glad to learn you’re back home, trench coat and all.

  6. Welcome back! Glad to hear your displacement was only temporary. The bacon candy can be sold on eBay – it is surprising how many homemade food items are sold there. Your candy would be an excellent Cristmas gift.

    • Thanks, Scroungelady! I’m glad to be home πŸ™‚ My neighbor almost gave me a mini-panic today when she said that ConEd turned the power on too soon and they would have to turn it off again later today. You should have seen the look on my face. Not funny!

      Christmas gifts are a great idea. I think everyone is getting candy this year!

      And sell the leftovers, yes!

  7. Daisy! Glad you are safe. This candy looks … ridiculous really. I can’t believe you didn’t win (and who exactly wants sex in their mouth? What?! Is that really what he called it??!) … (Maybe he too is a retro-pervert?)

    Anyway and moving on – so glad you are back with us! Happy cooking ~ ~

    • Thanks, Hannah!

      Yes, that’s what it was called. It definitely helps you remember the name! Next time I will have a punchier one, because out of all the competitors, my dish’s name was the longest. What can I say? I’m an academic!

      Maybe if I had worn a trench coat . . . It’s all about the strategy πŸ˜‰

  8. What can I say Daisy? What a tragedy that this didn’t win — if I were a judge I’d be SLEEPLESS with anxiety that I’d made the wrong decision. (As a side note, I love that trenchcoat flashers are now retro.)

    • I was very sad! But I spoke with my Grandpas afterwards and he said that I can’t be expected to win my first Takedown and I will do better next time.

      I will do better next time!!!

      Maybe I would have won if I wore the trench to the competition … πŸ˜‰

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