Bacon Bourbon Jam

I use bourbon like how a Chinese cook uses soy sauce – a dash of it never hurts. Indeed, bourbon is such a integral condiment in my dessert-baking repertoire that I’ve decided just to keep a handle of bourbon around. Why not, right? This bacon bourbon jam is another incarnation of my recent bacon obsession. I even went out to buy a baguette for the express purpose of taking a picture for this post.

And my, this spreadable bacon is quite heavenly. It’s a complex melding of flavors and textures – sweet and savory, sticky and crunchy, smokey and woody. I used apple-smoked bacon ends and pieces from Trader Joe’s – a much more cost-effective way since the bacon is going to be chopped up, anyway. It reminds a little bit like Bee Cheng Hiang’s bakkwa, a kind of Chinese pork jerky.

Bacon Bourbon Jam
Adapted from The Delicious Life
Makes a little over 1.5 cups

1 lb bacon
1 medium onion, chopped
3 to 4 cloves garlic, chopped
¼ cup apple cider vinegar (I used rice wine vinegar and it was fine)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
½ cup brewed coffee
4 tablespoons bourbon

In a large pot, cook bacon until just starting to brown and crisp at edges. Remove cooked bacon to paper towel-lined plate to cool and drain off grease. Pat with additional paper towels. When cool, cut bacon into 1-inch pieces.

Pour off all but 1 tablespoon bacon fat from pot. Turn heat down to medium low. Add onions and garlic, and cook until onions are translucent. Add vinegar, brown sugar, bourbon, and coffee. Bring to a boil. Add cooked chopped bacon.

If You Are Cooking on Stovetop:

Turn down heat to the lowest setting and allow to simmer for about 1½ hours, stirring every few minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated and what is left is syrupy. Do not leave the pot unattended because 1) that’s just not safe no matter what and 2) there is a lot of sugar from the onions and well, the sugar, so it can burn easily.

If You Are Using a Crockpot/Slow Cooker:

Pour the contents of the pot into the crockpot. Cook on high for about 3 hours.

After Cooking:

Transfer the cooked bacon jam to a food processor. Pulse until you get the consistency of chunky jam. Alternatively, you can just chop it manually with a knife until it reaches your desired consistency.

Store covered in the refrigerator.

Strawberries and Cream Biscuits

I saw this strawberry biscuit recipe on Smitten Kitchen and I was sold when I read that Debbie described  that the strawberries “might make a red puddled mess around each” biscuit. The idea of a freshly-baked biscuit oozing with jeweled molten berry was quite a sexy visual and of course I had to try these out.

These were incredibly easy to make. I’d probably make biscuits more if they didn’t involve cream, which is not something that goes into my weekly grocery shopping list and it tends to go bad pretty quickly too. The texture of the biscuits were really tender and crumbly, and you can definitely discern the cream part of the strawberries and cream equation. I used regular strawberries of regular ripeness, but I’m sure if you used fancy-pants organic or locally-sourced strawberries, the ooze-factor would increase considerably.

Strawberries and Cream Biscuits
From Smitten Kitchen
Makes about 12

2 1/4 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon (15 grams) aluminum-free baking powder
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
6 tablespoons (85 grams) cold, unsalted butter
1 cup (about 130 grams) chopped very ripe strawberries (I quarter small or medium ones and further chop larger ones)
1 cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In the bottom of a large, wide-ish bowl, whisk flours, baking powder, sugar and salt together. Add butter, either by cutting it in with two knives or a pastry blender (alternatively, you can freeze the butter and grate it in on the large holes of a box grater; a tip I learned from you guys) cut it into the flour mixture with a pastry blender, breaking it up until the mixture resembles a crumbly meal with tiny pea-sized bits of butter about. Gently stir in the strawberries, so that they are coated in dry ingredient, then stir in heavy cream. (I like to use a rubber spatula to gently lift and turn the ingredients over each other.) When you’ve mixed it in as best as you can with the spatula, go ahead and knead it once or twice in the bowl, to create one mass. Do not worry about getting the dough evenly mixed. It’s far more important that the dough is not overworked.

Generously flour your counter. With as few movements as possible, transfer your dough to the counter, generously flour the top of it and with your hands or a rolling pin, gently roll or press the dough out to a 3/4-inch thickness. Cut into 2 1/2-inch circles with a floured biscuit cutter or top edge of a drinking glass, pressing straight down and not twisting (this makes for nice layered edges) as you cut. Carefully transfer scones to prepared baking sheet, leaving a couple inches between each.

You can re-roll the scraps of dough, but don’t freak out over how wet the dough becomes as the strawberries have had more time to release their juice. They’ll still bake up wonderfully.

Bake the scones for 12 to 15 minutes, until bronzed at the edges and the strawberry juices are trickling out of the biscuits in places. Cool in pan for a minute, then transfer to a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Do ahead: Biscuits are generally best the day they are baked. However, if you wish to get a lead on them, you can make them, arrange them on your parchment-lined sheet and freeze them. If you’re prepping just one day in advance, cover the tray with plastic wrap and bake them the day you need them. If you’re preparing them more than one day in advance, once they are frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag or container. Bring them back to a parchment-lined sheet when you’re ready to bake them. No need to defrost the froze, unbaked scones, just add 2 to 3 minutes to your baking time.

Bacon Bourbon Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is arguably everything I like in a single, palm-sized package. Bourbon? Check. Chocolate? Check. Cured meat? Check. Ooey gooey cookie? Check. So much win, guys. I just had a couple of these little babies for brunch and the gourmand in me is happy. I’ve been inspired to make a bacon dessert for a little bit now, and finally I found it within myself to buy some bacon – and my creative juices were going into overdrive. I finally settled on a bacon dessert in cookie form, and I created this cookie.

This cookie uses a Cook’s Illustrated recipe as its base, and I tweaked it a little bit based on the various variations of bacon chocolate chip cookie recipes that I researched. I replaced some of the butter with rendered bacon fat (mmm bacon fat in cookies), reduced the vanilla essence, reduced the chocolate chips, added crispy bacon bits and added a couple tablespoons of bourbon. Texture-wise, I found it a little cloying right out of the oven – I think the presence of lard was particularly noticeable when the cookie was warm. However, the cookie was quite delectable after having set in the freezer overnight and returned to room temperature. If I were to do this again, however, I’d probably use a tablespoon less bacon fat, and maybe 3/4 cup of chocolate instead of 1 cup. It’s a really powerful punch of sugar and fat – even I think so –  and I think it needs to be toned down just a wee bit.

Bacon Bourbon Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
Makes 16 large cookies (about 3 inches in diameter)

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (8 3/4 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons rendered bacon fat
1/2 cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar (5 1/4 ounces)
1 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 cup (227g) semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
1/2 lb bacon, fried till crispy, cut to 1/4 by 1/4 inch pieces

Instructions

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large (18- by 12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

2. Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir rendered bacon fat into hot butter until completely melted.

3. Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips and bacon bits, giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.

4. Divide dough into portions of 2 tablespoons. Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet. (Smaller baking sheets can be used, but will require 3 batches.)

5. Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.

Frangelico Tiramisu

The good people over at Frangelico sent me a bottle of Frangelico to work into a recipe, and after several trials (mediocre brownies, subpar tiramisu) I finally made an actually delicious tiramisu. What I like best about this recipe is the lack of egg yolks in it – I know it’s not authentic, but it also means I don’t have to deal with a bunch of egg whites and worry about contracting salmonella. After all, I do make dessert primarily for one – the longer that dessert stays in the fridge, the iffier it gets.

The sad part about having to experiment with flavors is that I had to eat tiramisu every single day for lunch – while not a bad deal by most accounts, even my sweet tooth got a little tired of it. I’m glad I succeeded with a modification of Baking Bites’ recipe. The cheese and heavy cream filling was light and airy, and the strong coffee I brewed coupled with the Frangelico gave it a sweet, nutty complexity. I had attempted another recipe that involved cream cheese in the filling, and while it was okay, I found the cream cheese flavor cloying and not very traditional. This tiramisu recipe is really delicious stuff, and the perfect sort of thing to make when you don’t want to crank up the oven heat in warm weather.

Frangelico Tiramisu
Adapted from Baking Bites
Makes one 8×8 pan

8-oz mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream, cold*
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup strong brewed coffee, room temperature
1/4 cup Frangelico
approx 30-36 ladyfingers
unsweetened cocoa powder, for finishing

In a large mixing bowl, beat mascarpone, sugar, heavy cream and vanilla at high speed until mixture is fluffy and very smooth.
In a small, shallow bowl, combine coffee and Frangelico. Dip each ladyfinger into the coffee mixture to let it soak up some of the liquid (2-3 seconds) and place in the bottom of a 8×8 or 9×9-inch baking dish. The bottom of the pan should be completely covered with the ladyfingers in a single layer. Do not completely soak the ladyfingers in the coffee mixture.
When there is a full layer of ladyfingers, spread half of the cream mixture on top of them.Repeat with remaining ladyfingers and cream mixture.
Dust with cocoa powder
Cover and refrigerate overnight, or for at least 6 hours.

Serves 9-12