Sunday, December 18, 2011
"Sinner" Bark (Chocolate, Whiskey-Marshmallow Cream, Caramel, & Candied Bacon)
What says holiday cheer like bacon and whiskey? Well, I can't think of much else. That's why I'm spreading the love to all my friends and family this Christmas, with this decadent, and sinful, bark -- and you should too!
For those of you who haven't had bacon with chocolate, or bacon with caramel, or bacon with *see ingredients below*, you are missing out. Believe it or not, bacon is a fantastic complement to dessert. The salty/savoriness helps something sweet from becoming the dreaded sickly-sweet, and instead creates a rich, well-balanced bite.
What is really special about this bark is the addition of the whiskey in the marshmallow layer. And yes, you can actually taste the whiskey. When you are done chewing, the whiskey is the last flavor to come through at the end -- it sneaks up on you, and then lingers on your palate -- truly the warmest, and most welcome, surprise.
* 16 oz. of semisweet chocolate, chopped or chips
Marshmallow & Whiskey Layer
* 6 cups of mini marshmallows
* 1/4 cup whiskey
* 1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 2 tbsp. light corn syrup
* 1 can sweetened condensed milk
* 8 oz. bacon
* 1/8 cup sugar
* 2 tablespoon sugar
* 1 egg white
* 1/8 teaspoon cayenne (Note: I was hoping the cayenne would come out more in this recipe, but I didn't really taste it at all. You may want to increase the cayenne a smidge if you want a little more kick -- but beware, a little goes a loooong way.)
* Heat chocolate in a heat proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring constantly as it melts ("bain marie" technique -- great for melting chocolate, without the worry of burning).
* If you need a visual:
* Once the chocolate is completely smooth, spread half the chocolate in a 8X8 pan lined with parchment paper (parchment is a must -- the marshmallow layer is super sticky). If you want, use an offset spatula to get the layer nice and smooth. I personally kind of like this bark looking a little more rough-and-tumble with not so perfect layers. But whatever suits your fancy.
* Put the pan in the freezer, so the chocolate hardens as you make the marshmallow layer.
Marshmallow & Whiskey Layer
* Heat the marshmallows slowly over medium heat in a medium saucepan. They will start to melt, and get all stringy. Once that happens, stir in the whiskey. Then, slowly mix the whiskey and marshmallow until it's nice and smooth. You don't want to cook it too long or on too high heat, because then the alcohol will start to cook out.
* Once you've got a nice consistency, spread over the chocolate layer.
* Note: you may want to Crisco your stirring spoon and spreading spatula to make it easier to work with the marshmallow.
(*Note: same process as from the Chocolate Caramel Shortbread Bars.)
* Combine all caramel ingredients in a medium sauce pan over medium heat.
* Stir occasionally until the butter is melted.
* Increase the heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil. (Keeping a watchful eye on it, and stirring -- so no burning!)
* Once to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and continue stirring as it simmers.
* When the mixture has thickened, and has a lovely amber color, take it off the heat.
* Pour over the chilled marshmallow layer, and spread with an offset spatula, if you so desire.
Another chocolate layer: just add remaining half!
* Note: Do not put the chocolate layer down until you have the candied bacon ready. The reason is that the chocolate should still be warm so that the candied bacon can set up in the chocolate. You can always just quickly re-heat the chocolate if its set since the first layer.
* Cook the bacon, and then set aside to cool completely (you may want to do this before you make the other layers, so it's ready when it's time comes).
* Once cool, crumble the bacon.
* Preheat oven to 300 F.
* Heat the sugar and water over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.
* Add the crumbled bacon to the syrup, and then strain the excess.
* Beat the egg white with a whisk until it gets light and foamy.
* Stir the cayenne into the egg white mix.
* Add the bacon to the cayenne-egg mixture, and then spread onto a baking sheet lined with parchment.
* Bake for 30 minutes.
* Will come out looking:
* Once cool, crumble the bacon again, and sprinkle/press the bacon into the chocolate layer.
* Chill the mixture until all layers are firm.
When ready to slice, let the chocolate come back to room temp (will make it easier to cut without cracking the chocolate), and use some parchment paper underneath to make it easier to work with the marshmallow.
And then, get on with some serious nomming...
Recipe adapted from Endless Simmer.