Craving sweet and salty? Try bacon and chocolate

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Mitch Mariani

For many of a specific age and older, we vividly picture the scene of two individuals: one eating a chocolate bar and one eating peanut butter from a jar. Upon colliding, one exclaims, “You got your peanut butter in my chocolate,” while the other instantly replies, “No, you got your chocolate in my peanut butter.” Advertisers would lead us to believe that this happy accident is what inspired the creation of the peanut butter cup. It would come as no surprise that many years later, another two equally favorite, but unconventionally paired items would come together: Chocolate and bacon!

I must give the chocolate and bacon discovery credit to my friend Erick when he was attending a conference a few years ago in Lincoln, Neb. He described this unique and new combination and I must admit, I was turned off by the whole idea of chocolate on meat. As I thought about it more, the idea grew on me. It’s the classic salty and sweet combination that sounds appealing.

The chocolate bacon Erick described consisted of bacon that had been drizzled with chocolate flavored syrup. Though my friend said it was good, I though it would be a little messy and improvements could be made.

I went about tasting bacon and chocolate. I started out with the original incarnation with the chocolate flavored syrup. It was good, but it was a little flat for my taste and a bit messy. I turned my intention to solid bar chocolate. I liked the dark chocolate, but it lacked sweetness. The perfect balance of flavor came from using semisweet chocolate. I also needed the right bacon. Many types of bacon are smoked with hickory or other robustly flavored smoking woods. A lighter smoked flavor from applewood smoked bacon was much better. I also discovered that the texture of thicker cut bacon was more appealing, too.

My perfected version of bacon-covered chocolate was a huge hit at a recent family gathering. Most importantly, Erick approved my version.

You may follow the packaged directions to cook the bacon, but I suggest the oven cooking method because it is much less mess and work. It also prevents the bacon from curling. To oven cook the bacon, place a cooling rack in a rimmed baking sheet or use a broiler pan.  Place the bacon strips on the elevated portion of the baking device. Cook the bacon in a 400-degree oven for 15 minutes. Turn the bacon pieces and continue to cook until the bacon is crisp, about 10 to 15 more minutes.

The best way to melt and temper the chocolate is in the microwave. Place chopped chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and heat for 20 seconds, then stir. This process is repeated until the chocolate is melted. To temper, place a large piece of chocolate in the melted chocolate and allow the residual heat to melt the large piece.

Chocolate Covered Bacon

Ingredients

• 1 pound applewood smoked, thick-cut bacon, cooked

• 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted

Step 1: Cut the strips of cooked bacon into two- to three-inch long pieces. Place the bacon strips on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Pour the melted chocolate into a press and seal type of plastic bag. Cut off a small piece of one of the bottom tips of the bag. Begin to squeeze the chocolate out of the hole in the bag.

Step 2: In a quick motion, drizzle the chocolate on the strips of bacon. Repeat in the opposite directing making a lattice effect.

Step 3: Firm the chocolate on the bacon at room temperature for an hour, then transfer the pan to the refrigerator to finish firming the chocolate.

Step 4: Store the chocolate covered bacon in a plastic bag. Refrigerate up to one week.

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