Did you just do a double take at the title of this blog post? Because when I first saw the recipe I sure did. Bacon?! Caramel?! Brownie?! Yes, please!!
My friend Jen told me recently that the Pioneer Woman's cooking website, TastyKitchen.com, had added a section for brownies and bars and there were some good looking recipes. So I went to check it out for myself. Lordy mama, were there ever some good looking recipes!! These pretty much had me at bacon (of course, just about anything that starts out with the word bacon has me).
As an aside, my brother and husband invented this whole bacon/chocolate craze that's happening right now. Or at least the three of us are sure they did. We were at a restaurant for brunch for my grandma's 90th birthday, and they had one of those chocolate fountains. My brother--the vegetarian--dared my husband to dip a piece of bacon in the chocolate fountain and he'd give him $1. I've mentioned before that we're bacon lovers in our house, so of course he went for it. Apparently they got quite a few strange looks at the fountain, but not long after that there were articles all over the place about the bacon and chocolate combo. I have to assume that some foodie of some sort was there for brunch that day, saw their concoction and made it their own.
Now, back to the brownies. I'm not a baker...too much measuring and too many dishes to clean up afterwards it always seems. But these had me. I had never before in my life made caramel, nor had I made brownies from scratch (at least I don't think I have). But I decided from the title (and pictures) alone, these were going to be worth the trouble.
Bacon Salted Caramel Brownies
From www.tastykitchen.com and savour-fare.com
For the Bacon Caramel:
2 slices bacon
1/2 c. heavy cream
1 c. sugar
6 T. salted butter
In a small saucepan, fry two slices of bacon until crisp (I find it’s easiest to do this when the bacon is cut in half). Remove bacon, set aside, reserving bacon grease in the pan. Add cream to hot pan and let cool. When bacon is cool, crumble or chop finely.
In a larger pan, heat the sugar over high heat until the mixture is liquid and a deep amber color. Add the butter and the cooled bacon cream all at once, and stir until the butter is melted. Add the chopped bacon and let the mixture cool thoroughly.
For the brownies:
8 T salted butter, cut into pieces
6 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
3 large eggs
1 c. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. flour
Salted Bacon Caramel
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Line an 8 inch square pan with two sheets of aluminum foil that covers the bottom and sides of the pan. Grease the foil with butter or a little Baker’s Joy.
In a large microwaveable bowl, melt the butter and the chocolate together in the microwave (start with 30 seconds, and stir thoroughly, then microwave for 10 seconds at a time, stirring between each bout of nuking, until the chocolate is melted and incorporated into the butter) (You can also melt them together over the stove). Add the cocoa and whisk until smooth, then add in the eggs, one at a time, and the sugar, vanilla and finally the flour. Stir only until combined.
Scrape half of the batter into the prepared pan. Then drop about a third of the bacon caramel, evenly spaced, over the brownie batter in the pan. It doesn’t have to cover the whole batter, but should be in splotches. Spread the remaining brownie batter over the top, then drop spoonfuls of the remaining caramel sauce over the top of the brownies and swirl.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, but err on the side of underbaking. Remove from the oven and cool completely. The caramel will be pretty gooey still, so you might want to wait to cut these until just prior to serving, and/or store in the refrigerator.
Cut into small pieces and enjoy the gooey, salted caramel bacon goodness.
Let me first say that I got roped into making breakfast as I was working on these since I was already cooking bacon. This recipe took me just about all morning to prepare, but in my defense there is a lot of cooling involved. It worked out because we were getting ready to go out of town for the weekend, so I'd do a step or two, then work on packing or making something else to take along.
I didn't change any of this because I don't typically make changes when baking since it's so finicky. I loved the idea of putting foil in the pan to make the clean-up (and brownie removal process) easier. Oh, and I just used chocolate chips instead of having to chop up some chocolate myself.
When I took these out of the oven I was worried I had over-baked them. I checked on the pan at 35 minutes and it still seemed really gooey and wet, so I put them back in for another seven minutes. Then I was worried they were too done, but they weren't at all.
Man alive...these were some of the best brownies--nay, dessert/treat--I have ever had. I sampled one (of course) before we left for our trip and was astounded. Then that night when we got to the cabin, the husband, my mom, and I all had a little amuse bouche of brownie. It took a whole lot of self control to not sit there and eat the whole pan. The bits of bacon were almost like toffee bits, you couldn't really tell they were bacon, just a little something crunchy mixed in with everything else. The brownies themselves were so dense and rich and chocolatey. Wow. These were definitely a major pain in the ass to make, but they were totally worth it. I may make them again next week for my last bible study.
I took some pictures of the process.
Bacon grease + heavy cream = heart attack in a saucepan
The caramel process...
Sugar in a saucepan. Really? This is going to turn into caramel?
I was still pretty skeptical at this point.
Wow, look at that!! Caramel!!
Creamy, caramely, bacony goodness in a pan...
First layer of brownie + middle caramel layer = (see picture)
And this is when I was worried I had baked them for too long...but I didn't. They were just fine. And honestly even if they sucked I probably would have eaten them anyway for all the time and effort I put into them!
I figured since I was somewhere scenic with the brownies I might as well take a scenic picture of them. I guess it's not super scenic since the background is blurry. That's one of Jen's babies in the background, by the way.