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eG Foodblog: Darcie B - Bakin' with bacon

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#1 Darcie B

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Posted 24 January 2006 - 09:46 AM

Greetings from the OTHER Charleston! I am getting a rather late start because I got slammed the minute I got into work, but I am very excited about doing this blog.

First, a geography lesson – anyone who watched World New Tonight last night on ABC is probably confused about where Charleston, West Virginia is located. They had a correspondent in Charleston (the capital city) reporting on the mine safety legislation that just passed, but the map they displayed showed Charles Town, a WV city about 5 hours away. Here is where both cities are located.

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West Virginia has been in the news recently for some very unhappy events. I hope to show you that West Virginia is more than these depressing occurrences, and that while not a culinary mecca, there is good food available to most residents of this state. I welcome, nay, encourage, any questions about West Virginia and its food.

As the title of my blog suggests, there will be baking in this blog. Lots of baking and indeed baking with bacon. I found an interesting recipe for Swedish Ginger Cookies that calls for bacon fat. Mmmmm, bacon. I also just purchased some almond meal and might try to make macarons for the first time (inspired by this macaron thread on eG). I may bake other items on request, so think about what you might like to see.

In addition, I need to bake myself a birthday cake (sorry, no cassoulet on my birthday). My birthday is Thursday (I will be 37), but I will probably get to baking and decorating this weekend. I would like your suggestions on what kind of cake (or pie?) I should bake for myself. My friends all think I am strange for wanting to bake my own birthday cake (and for other reasons also food related), but I love to bake (even if I do cuss a lot whilst doing so). Ideas?

I have to run out for an hour or two, but before I leave, here was this morning’s breakfast:

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All hail the coffee maker, without which I would never get going.

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There is yogurt underneath all that granola.

Gotta run, be back soon!

Edited for tipos.

Edited by Darcie B, 24 January 2006 - 09:47 AM.

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#2 Chris Amirault

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Posted 24 January 2006 - 09:55 AM

Hi Darcie! I'll be very interested to learn about Charleston. My trips to WV (Morgantown, mostly) have been wonderful. I'm eager to learn about the local food scene!
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#3 *Deborah*

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Posted 24 January 2006 - 01:59 PM

Yay, Darcie!

I am also a fan of baking your own birthday cake: then you know that it's going to be good! :biggrin:
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#4 Darcie B

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Posted 24 January 2006 - 02:00 PM

Thanks, Chris! If you like vegetarian eats, check out Mountain Kitchen next time you're in Mo-town. Real granola type place.

More baking, but first - lunch!
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The sandwich is made from leftover tenderloin that I made for my boss and some colleagues at a meeting in Randolph County, WV (which is about halfway between Charleston and Charles Town on the map above). My boss owns part of a historic lodge in the area, and I often get to travel there with him to cook for various folks. Since my boss is a federal judge, I get to cook for state and local muckety-mucks. I like it because I get to indulge my hobby and stay at places I normally couldn’t afford. Plus, I get to have views like this from the kitchen:
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Here is the kitchen I got to cook at last weekend:
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It isn’t at the lodge I normally cook in, but rather at one of the vacation homes that surround the lodge. You can check out www.cheatmountainclub.com for more information on the lodge that is available for rental (it’s about 2.5 hours from DC).

To bring us back to reality, here is the kitchen I usually cook in:
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and because I enjoyed viewing the contents of mizducky’s fridge and feel it’s a fine eGullet tradition, here’s mine:
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OK, my boss just brought in a snack:
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Now back to baking. This evening marks the 14th birthday of my neighbor and good friend’s daughter. I am making her a chocolate cake, mostly using the consensus recipe in the Chocolate Cake thread. I used 2.5 cups of A.P. flour instead of the 2.75 cups of cake flour called for in the recipe, because if you read the thread, you will see I had a disappointing first try with this cake. It fell apart as I tried to ice it and I wanted something a bit sturdier since I have no second chance this time.

Here are the cakes as they cooled last night:
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This evening when I get home from work I will cover and fill them with a sour cream chocolate ganache (very easy, from Rose Levy Berenbaum’s The Cake Bible. For 12 ounces of dark chocolate, melted, you stir in 1 2/3 cups sour cream. That’s it but it is sooo good). Then I will have to think of something to do to make it look good that takes about 5 minutes. I think I will fan some strawberries out on top and pipe a few whipped cream swirls on it.
Remember, I still need ideas for my birthday cake, which could turn into a weekend baking spectacular if I get enough suggestions…

Edited to add link to Chocolate cake thread

Edited by Darcie B, 24 January 2006 - 02:36 PM.

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#5 Darcie B

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Posted 24 January 2006 - 02:12 PM

Yay, Darcie!

I am also a fan of baking your own birthday cake: then you know that it's going to be good! :biggrin:

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You nailed it, Deborah.

Here at work we have a small b-day celebration for everyone (about 23 people so about 2/month, sometimes they are combined). If I don't make a cake, then they go across the street to the cookie store for a "cookie cake" or to Kroger and get one of their godawful cakes. I've baked everyone a cake for the past six months or so.
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#6 Rebecca263

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Posted 24 January 2006 - 02:28 PM

DarcieB, thank you for 'blogging' for us this week! Your personal kitchen looks plenty nice to me, with those windows! I've seen some cookie recipes that call for bacon fat, and even a few that called for duck fat recently! I'm interested in finding out how yours bacon bakin' comes out. :smile:
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#7 ludja

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Posted 24 January 2006 - 02:43 PM

No comparsion with the mining tragedies, but it has been nice to have some happy WVa news recently via Morgantown and WVU's football and basketball teams...

What a lovely kitchen with all that space and light.

It's too early for ramps, but it would be interesting to hear of any other 'regional' cooking if that is part of your repertoire. Do you have a sense of how much traditional, regional cooking is still going on in the area?

Thanks in advance, and have a fun week! Your birthday cake sounds great.
"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

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#8 suzilightning

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Posted 24 January 2006 - 02:47 PM

wow - i have kitchen envy, darcie!!!!

how about a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting?
maybe a cream cheese tart with some fresh fruit?

maybe you can garnish with bacon candy?
recipe here:http://www.wchstv.com/gmarecipes/pigcandy.shtml
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#9 Pan

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Posted 24 January 2006 - 03:20 PM

[...]Here at work we have a small b-day celebration for everyone (about 23 people so about 2/month, sometimes they are combined). If I don't make a cake, then they go across the street to the cookie store for a "cookie cake" or to Kroger and get one of their godawful cakes. I've baked everyone a cake for the past six months or so.

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I hope you're getting nice bonuses for all that extra work beyond the call of duty.

Nice to meet you, and enjoy your week of blogging!

#10 snowangel

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Posted 24 January 2006 - 04:02 PM

Welcome, Darcy, to the world of blogging.

Talk more about the bacon you use. I happen to live in an area that is rife with local meat markets and can procure locally smoked bacon at more places than I can count on both hands within an hour's drive. Expand that to two hours of driving, and I can't tell you at how many places I can find bacon.
but
No cake advice from me. As I've gotten older, my sweet tooth has amost disappeared,I always resort to either Burnt Sugar Cake or this Chocolate cake -- both recipes which I've memorized. Recipes taught to me by my great-grandmother (I have her recipe box!).
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#11 avocado

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Posted 24 January 2006 - 04:07 PM

Darcie, what a great start! Such enthusiasm and such great photos! I think I'm going to be glued to this blog for the whole week...
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#12 jeniac42

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Posted 24 January 2006 - 05:15 PM

Beautiful kitchens - both of them! I haven't been in southern WVa in a few years, and it might be time to go back for a visit. It's gorgeous down there, and not unreasonably far from scenic Pittsburgh.

Looking forward to reading your blog. Maybe it will inspire me to use my KitchenAid for some baking again soon. The last thing I made was blueberry muffins, and that was a week and a half ago!
Jennie

#13 mizducky

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Posted 24 January 2006 - 05:33 PM

and because I enjoyed viewing the contents of mizducky’s fridge and feel it’s a fine eGullet tradition, here’s mine:
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Oh god--if I ever opened my refrigerator and it looked as nice and neat as yours, I think I would faint from astonishment! :laugh:

Happy blogging, Darcie! As to cakes--I've always been partial to the combination of chocolate and cherries, so some kind of Black Forest Torte immediately springs to mind.

#14 BarbaraY

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Posted 24 January 2006 - 06:38 PM

Yes! Your fridge is soooo neat! If mine ever looked like that, I'd know for sure were elves about.

#15 Susan in FL

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Posted 24 January 2006 - 06:38 PM

Nice to meet you, Darcie. My mother-in-law lives in Charleston! Wow... two blogs in a row with which I have some kind of connection. Mom lives on MacCorkle Ave. She's in her 80's and has become a snowbird now, living with my sister-in-law down here for a good part of the year.
Do they still have the Regatta on Memorial Day weekend? We used to go visit every year, to attend the festivities and for my husband to run in the race.
I like the orange and dark chocolate combination. Any chance of something featuring that? When I pick my birthday cake (for my husband to bake), it's angel food with some sort of chocolate icing.
Life is short; eat the cheese course first.

#16 Darcie B

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Posted 24 January 2006 - 08:15 PM

No comparsion with the mining tragedies, but it has been nice to have some happy WVa news recently via Morgantown and WVU's football and basketball teams...

What a lovely kitchen with all that space and light.

It's too early for ramps, but it would be interesting to hear of any other 'regional' cooking if that is part of your repertoire.  Do you have a sense of how much traditional, regional cooking is still going on in the area?

Thanks in advance, and have a fun week!  Your birthday cake sounds great.

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Thanks - I don't follow sports much but I guess WVU's teams have been doing very well. (to keep it food related, I hear we won the SUGAR Bowl).

It would be great to blog during all the ramp fests, but that is a few months away. I will try to make a few regional meals, although I am a transplant from North Dakota/Minnesota (been here about 13 years, still a "furriner"). My sense is that hardly anyone cooks traditional foods anymore, heck, hardly anyone cooks. Some of the standards include brown beans (pintos) and cornbread (or fried potatoes), creasy greens, poke greens, biscuits and gravy, fried pies (like apple fritters), the aforementioned ramps, fried chicken, leather britches and I'm sure I am missing some. Not a lot of meat-centric meals since Appalachia is a traditionally poor area.

I have a friend whose mom makes all the above mentioned foods. When she is at my friend's house she invites us over because she likes to cook for a crowd. My kinda woman.

wow - i have kitchen envy, darcie!!!!

how about a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting?
maybe a cream cheese tart with some fresh fruit?

maybe you can garnish with bacon candy?
recipe here:http://www.wchstv.com/gmarecipes/pigcandy.shtml

Thanks - my DH and I redid our kitchen by ourselves (except for the Corian countertop). I did the planning, laid the floors and did the woodwork and my DH did the plumbing, wiring and installed the cabinets (I helped a little on those).

Red velvet cake could certainly make an appearance.

Bacon candy sounds really good...

I hope you're getting nice bonuses for all that extra work beyond the call of duty.

The bonus is not having to eat the yukky cakes.

Talk more about the bacon you use.

I wish I could find locally smoked bacon! I can't even find a good butcher! I am fond of peppered bacon and like the Wright's brand, and even the Aldi brand is pretty good, but inconsistent in the thickness of slices. For the cookies coming up, I will be using bacon left from the weekend cooking, which was Hormel thick sliced (Sam's Club). My friends and I did a bacon testing similar to the Cook's Illustrated bacon testing and came up with similar results. We used some local store brands, Oscar Meyer, and Hormel. The latter two came out on top.

I have heard Nueske's is really good but can't get it here and haven't mail ordered any because I'm cheap.

I think I'm going to be glued to this blog for the whole week...

I'm so glad! I was terrified that no one would read or respond. I actually dreamt about it last night! I hope I can live up to the greats who have come before me.

Looking forward to reading your blog. Maybe it will inspire me to use my KitchenAid for some baking again soon.

That was one of my goals. I think a lot of people don't bake much for a number of reasons - I hope to inspire a lot of oven-turning-on!

mizducky and BarbaraY - I will admit I straightened up my fridge a little for the photo (but I am one of those near OCD cleaning types). Maybe I will post a photo of my spice drawer to really give you a heart attack...

Do they still have the Regatta on Memorial Day weekend? We used to go visit every year, to attend the festivities and for my husband to run in the race.
I like the orange and dark chocolate combination. Any chance of something featuring that?

Regatta is still held on Labor Day weekend and for several days before. It is a much smaller and shorter event than in its heyday, but still well attended. I don't go because of all the crowds (I call it Regretta...)

I too love chocolate and orange. That might show up if I can find a recipe...Keep those ideas coming, folks!

Thanks for all your wonderful responses. This is fun!
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#17 Darcie B

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Posted 24 January 2006 - 08:21 PM

Back again to baking. Following are the pics from the cake I took to the neighbors' house this evening (we ate pizza for dinner; birthday girl's request).

The cake is really dark and very moist. The crumb is a little coarse but wow the flavor is good. One of the kids said it was, "like, the best chocolate cake I have ever had."
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Since I was in a hurry, I had no chance to crumb coat or anything. The cake was in the fridge all day, and I warmed up the ganache a little, and it actually turned out pretty well:
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Edit due to happy fingers posting too soon.

Edited by Darcie B, 24 January 2006 - 08:22 PM.

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#18 PopsicleToze

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Posted 24 January 2006 - 08:24 PM

Great job, Darcie! Looking forward to the rest of your blog.

Rhonda

#19 Darcie B

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Posted 24 January 2006 - 08:33 PM

I decided to make the bacon cookies tonight. The recipe is from a New York Times article, and states the recipe was adapted from Nelle Branson's original in the Trinity Epoiscopal Church Recipe Book, 1982 edition.

Ingredients:
3/4 cup cooled bacon fat
1 cup sugar, plus 1/4 cup for dusting cookies
4 tablespoons dark molasses
1 large egg
2 cups AP flour
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Of course I can never leave well enough alone so I subbed 1/3 tsp. cardamom for 1/3 tsp. of the cloves.

The recipe instructions start by telling you to preheat the oven. Then later on it says to refrigerate the dough for a few hours first. This is one of my recipe pet peeves. Don't tell me to preheat the oven when I have to let the dough chill for hours!!!

This recipe uses a food processor, which makes it really easy. I took the dry ingredients and whirred them up for about 30 seconds to make sure it was well mixed, then added the rest of the ingredients and processed until it mostly came together. Then I hand mixed on parchment until I got a smooth and consistent dough.

MMMmmmm, bacon fat.
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Mise en place
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I just love Wonder Cups - they make it so easy to dispense sticky ingredients.
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Ingredients in food processor
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Almost there!
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Ready to refrigerate
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Upon first reading of the recipe, I thought, "with that much spice I could probably use whale blubber as the fat and wouldn't be able to tell." However, after I mixed the dough, I could still smell the bacony goodness. We will see how it holds up after baking.

Which will be tomorrow, because I am too pooped to stay up another couple of hours and bake cookies. Stay tuned!

Edited by Darcie B, 24 January 2006 - 08:35 PM.

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#20 Zucchini Mama

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Posted 24 January 2006 - 08:49 PM

Yay, baking! I vote for an orange and chocolate cake AND a black forest cake. Blood oranges are in season, so you could make a blood orange chiffon with chocolate ganache icing and serve it with blood orange sorbet. I would love to see you make a deluxe black forest cake in that lovely kitchen of yours. I was eyeing my dried cherries today and thought they'd be mighty good soaked in kirsch overnight!

I just made a chocolate beet cake--good, but I need to fool around with it a bit more. I have to get my son to eat his vegetables somehow!

Zuke
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--Mae West

#21 Rebecca263

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Posted 24 January 2006 - 08:58 PM

I wish that technology would catch up to my imagination already, and we could have aroma-view internet. I am so curious about "bacon bakin' "! Cardamom is one of my favorite cookie spices, it imparts a certain indefinable aroma that is irresistible!
edited, because my painkillers are NOT helping my spelling!

Edited by Rebecca263, 24 January 2006 - 08:59 PM.

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#22 mizducky

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Posted 25 January 2006 - 12:16 AM

Man, I never realized bacon had this whole other life as an ingredient in sweet things ... but between these cookies and the whole bacon candy thang, my eyes have definitely been opened. :biggrin:

MMMmmmm, bacon fat.
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Okay, I just can't resist:

Now then I went down to see my local deejay
The cat's name is Cain, he lives down Tennessee way
I said now "Hey man, what's this uh, new kinda jump -
Where you wind up twice 'n then you end up with a bump?"
He said now "Dig, Daddy! It's a natural fact,
It's a sweepin' the South, that thing the Bacon Fat."
You go diddley diddley diddley diddley diddley diddley diddley diddley wop wop...
--as sung by numerous R'n'B doo-wop groups over the years

Could this become the official theme song of the eGullet Bacon Lover's United? :laugh:

#23 Swisskaese

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Posted 25 January 2006 - 02:39 AM

Welcome to blogland Darcie!

Beautiful cake. I will definitely have to buy a Wonder Cup when I come to the States for a visit.

What kind of cake do you like. Do you like frosted cakes? Is there anything you don't like? This will help with my suggestions.

#24 Ling

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Posted 25 January 2006 - 02:39 AM

I'm so glad that your chocolate cakes turned out for you this time, Darcie! The cake you posted upthread with the sour cream ganache looks beautiful! I love Pierre Herme's caramel ganache with that particular chocolate cake. :wub:

Before we all start throwing out ideas for your birthday cake, (not strange at all how you're doing your own, btw--I did my own this year too!) what are you favourite flavour combinations? Do you have a cake already in mind (like chocolate, or a white cake) and you're looking for filling/frosting ideas? :smile:

I love blogs that feature a lot of baking...I will be checking your blog daily! :biggrin:

#25 Chufi

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Posted 25 January 2006 - 06:34 AM

Hi Darcie! that chocolate cake with the strawberries is beautiful, can't wait to see more of your baking!

I just love Wonder Cups - they make it so easy to dispense sticky ingredients.
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I really need one of those. I am forever wondering how Americans measure things like butter and lard in cups, I always make such a mess. This is the answer! I want one!

#26 miladyinsanity

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Posted 25 January 2006 - 06:50 AM

Klary, you're not the only one who wants one of those!

I've got American sized measuring cups--I've no idea how come but I do. But it irritates me to no end when recipes ask for 1 cup of butter. Do they seriously expect me to pack the butter into a cup? LOL.

I second the Orange and Dark chocolate combination.

Great blog Darcie. I know I wouldn't dare do the bacon fat cookie though.
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#27 Swisskaese

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Posted 25 January 2006 - 07:15 AM

Klary, you're not the only one who wants one of those!

I've got American sized measuring cups--I've no idea how come but I do. But it irritates me to no end when recipes ask for 1 cup of butter. Do they seriously expect me to pack the butter into a cup? LOL.

I second the Orange and Dark chocolate combination.

Great blog Darcie. I know I wouldn't dare do the bacon fat cookie though.

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I use the Butter Conversion website to convert American butter weights (cups, sticks) into grams.

Edited by Swisskaese, 25 January 2006 - 07:17 AM.


#28 daniellewiley

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Posted 25 January 2006 - 07:33 AM

Klary, you're not the only one who wants one of those!

I've got American sized measuring cups--I've no idea how come but I do. But it irritates me to no end when recipes ask for 1 cup of butter. Do they seriously expect me to pack the butter into a cup? LOL.

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Yeah, that would be pretty hard. Our butter comes in sticks that are each 1/4 cup, so for 1 cup of butter, you would use 4 sticks. Putting it in a measuring cup would not be fun at all.
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#29 Chufi

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Posted 25 January 2006 - 07:42 AM

I use the Butter Conversion website to convert American butter weights (cups, sticks) into grams.

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that's really helpful thanks Michele!

Darcie I have a question about the bacon cookies.. is that baconfat from smoked or unsmoked bacon? and if unsmoked, how is it different from regular lard? I'm only just discovering lard and it's uses in (sweet) baking, and this is intriguing.

Edited by Chufi, 25 January 2006 - 07:42 AM.


#30 SobaAddict70

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Posted 25 January 2006 - 08:27 AM

Man, I never realized bacon had this whole other life as an ingredient in sweet things ... but between these cookies and the whole bacon candy thang, my eyes have definitely been opened. :biggrin:


Dessert

This was IMO the most creative and interesting part.. It really was based around tofee covered bacon.. Or Bacon Brittle or whatever you want to call it.. We basically cubed bacon, fried it and covered in tofee.. It really is amazing.. Covers the bacon in a protective sweet shell forever keeping it crisp..

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Beautiful

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Cake.. We made a Pierre Hermes Suzy's Cake.. Put the Toffee Bacon and a Caramel Ganache in between the layers.. Covered with the glaze from the Pave cake.. Giving the cake a hard shell.. It was delicious, rich, and the bacon went really well...
Served with a 10 egg yolk vanilla custard with toffee bacon..

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Thanks to Ling for the suggestion.. We made a Bacon Brioche Pudding with a sugar bourbon glaze.. This was awesome.. It really was delicious..


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Amazing..

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I am very thankful for what a great job my girlfriend did and what a great time I had with my friends.

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As a side note, you might want to check out this thread in our Cooking forum.





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