Bacon Bad: Blue Bacon Rock Candy

Blue bacon "crystal meth." You're welcome :-)
“Daisy, this Year of the Horse prediction-shit,” my cousin said, “Is exactly that: horseshit.”

I’m normally not a superstitious person , but lately I’ve been susceptible to all this talk about horoscopes and zodiacs. Contrary to what most people might think, the Year of the Horse is not lucky for those born in Horse Years. Speaking in general, the potential for you to fail increases a billion-fold when your Chinese zodiac animal year comes up. Why? Because my people are just messed up like that.

Even though your zodiac animal’s years are special ones, they can also leave you more vulnerable to bad luck and impending doom if you are not careful. To compensate for all the bad luck that you will likely experience this year, the universe promises — as a reward for your suffering — that next year will be amazing!

In addition to predicted “[c]onflicts, disasters, record high temperatures, an economic chill in Asia and more trouble for Justin Bieber,” this year of the Wooden Horse will also bring “some discomforts” such as “insidious diseases like dermatosis” to Horses. Women “should pay attention to problem in urinary system and males need to care more about their stomach.” Everyone should “be careful to avoid unexpected injuries by knives and other sharp items” and “remember not to eat too much for each meal.”

In particular reference to that last item, I am already so screwed.

Apparently the only people set to have a worse year than me in 2014 are those born under the sign diametrically opposed to the Horse on the zodiac wheel: the Rat.

Many apologies for this bad news, dear Rat Friends.

To combat the Heavens, I am supposed to A) exercise some feng shui cures — which are almost impossible to accomplish if you live in a studio apartment like myself and B) avoid having horse or donkey on the table this year.

(On a side note, only the Chinese would think to remind you not to eat your zodiac animal during your zodiac animal year.)

I remember the last Year of the Horse as being one of the worst years of graduate school that I had ever had. It was so bad that I moved to France (unbeknownst to me at the time, apparently traveling mitigates your bad luck since you will be physically removed from any potentially disastrous situations at home and can inflict your misfortune on a bunch of strangers instead). Furthermore, my grandmother died while I was away.

Horseshit,” my cousin reiterated. “And I might remind you that your grandmother didn’t die. Our grandmother died.”

Touché, dear Cousin, but as I watched our family bicker around the table at New Year’s Dinner, I couldn’t help but think it was an omen, a portent of things to come. It didn’t help that every conversation that I had in the two weeks following Chinese New Year’s Day was awkward and stilted. Those interactions were so uncomfortable that I was beginning to think that 2014 would be better off spent in a menstrual hut somewhere in the New Mexican desert.

During that time I thought, “Oh no. It’s starting. Pretty soon, dormant volcanos will erupt and rising sea levels will cover and erase Indonesia.”

I was so in the dumps that an Indian colleague, deciding that enough was enough, pulled me aside one day. “Daisy!” she said while looking me straight in the eye, “In my country everyone is superstitious! I used to be so superstitious! Until I finally told myself that this was ridiculous and I am the only one who controls my destiny!”

Although it sounded like a load motivational speaker clichés, I was oddly swayed by S. Maybe it was the conviction with which she told me to (wo)man up and stop whining. Maybe it was the fact that I was already tired of being anxious about 11 more months of social ineptitude and imminent disaster. In any case, I was finally able to pull myself out of my funk and look forward to what 2014 might bring.

One of the resolutions that I have made this year besides learning to rock a funky, colorful sock (a much more challenging endeavor for me than you would think), is to wrap up loose ends from last year instead of just avoiding them until they are no longer relevant. At the very top of that list is this blog post which has been sitting in my drafts folder for an absurdly long time.

So finally, dear Readers and Hormel Foods who — as a sponsor of the Brooklyn Bacon Takedown  — technically owns this recipe and to whom I was supposed to submit a copy over 4 months ago, here is how to make Bacon Bad, aka Blue Bacon Crystal Meth. 

Special equipment:

Two half-sized sheet pans

One candy thermometer

Popsicle sticks

Ingredients:

1 pound of bacon

4 cups of granulated white sugar

1 1/3 cups of light corn syrup

1 1/2 cups of water

Sky Blue gel food coloring

How to prepare:

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Arrange the bacon in a single layer on a half-sheet pan. Roast the bacon until it is really crispy and most of the fat is rendered, about 20 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and let dry/drain until it is cool enough to handle. Either crumble or cut the bacon into bacon bits.

2. Combine the sugar, the corn syrup, and the water in a 4-quart saucepan. Stir the mixture over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and it just begins to boil. Stop stirring and insert the candy thermometer. Let the mixture bubble and boil until the syrup reaches the 300°.

3. While the sugar syrup is boiling, wash and throughly dry the sheet pan that you used to roast the bacon. Line both half-sheet pans with parchment paper.

4. When the sugar syrup has reached 300°, turn off the heat and remove the saucepan from the burner. Use a popsicle stick to quickly stir in a very small drop of food coloring (a little goes a very long way). Once the color is even distributed, divide the syrup between the two lined sheet pans. Tip the pans very carefully to make sure that the syrup spreads out and evenly covers the entire bottom of the pans. Divide the bacon bits into two equal portions and sprinkle each evenly on top of each tray of candy. Let the candy cool completely.

4. Once the candy has completely cooled, take a mallet, a hammer, or a meat tenderizer and crack the candy into very small pieces/crystals. Transfer the candy to airtight zipper-lock bags.

Cyber Monday: My Takedown Maple-Candied Bacon and Spiced Pecan Nougat Is Now For Sale!


Just in time for the holidays!

This addictive combination of maple sugar-candied bacon, Ancho chili and cayenne pepper-spiced pecans, and Bourbon nougat was created for the Brooklyn Bacon Takedown with the help of my downstairs neighbor, a professional candy maker.

I posted the labor-intensive recipe here, but who has the time to candy, sit, stir, and wrap for hours?

Let us do it for you! We’ll candy that bacon into submission and pack it up pretty so the only work you have to do is eat it 🙂

This season, give the gift that everyone loves. Give bacon!

Order from Sweetniks.com or Sweetniks on Etsy here and here.

(I would also recommend all the candies on the site. Everything Niki makes is beautiful and delicious!)

* Photo courtesy of Sweetniks.com.

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 🙂

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.

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 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.

Brooklyn Bacon Takedown Update: I Will Win Next Year!!!!!


Yes, dear Friends and Readers: I made an Maple-Candied Bacon and Ancho Chili-Spiced Roasted Pecans in Bourbon-Maple Nougat with a touch of Sea Salt and I lost!

But I had a great time and met tons of people. Here’s to next year’s Bacon Takedown, and to beating the pants off my new friends!

(not in an inappropriate way)

Recipe and more forthcoming!