Okay, we’re all adults here right? And we’re busy people, so let’s not waste each other’s time. If you’re a sweet-loving, candy-sucking, cola-drinking sugar addict… this recipe probably isn’t for you. (Permission to click your back button now!) But if you’re all grown up, somewhat open-minded, and ready to try something new that doesn’t use sugar as its drawing card… then perhaps, just maybe, you might fall in with those of us who enjoy a little salted chocolate bacon bark between meals.
This is a recipe you can play with and make your own. Then take it out and share cuz this provides a refreshing break in the season of sugar hoopla that’s spinning us into a frenzy. I’ve made it with almonds and with salt peanuts. Usually with a pinch of sugar to balance the salt, and sometimes without any sugar at all. I always start with the highest quality Callebaut chocolate in the house. Usually this means Callebaut 70% callets, but I’ve also had success with 54% mixed with plain ol’ bittersweet chocolate from the grocery store shelf. One thing I won’t do is add coconut butter or fat. When making a chocolate bark, I prefer it dark and snappy. It should not melt in our hands, so I don’t add softeners. Here’s how I do it — feel free to use this as your inspiration and let me know how you twist it up.
First — about the bacon…
Bacon is a great subject for debate, and this is especially true in the context of chocolate bacon bark. Do we use sweet-cured bacon or plain? Do we brush honey or maple syrup on your bacon as it fries? Do we fry it or bake it? Shhh… is that the bacon I hear sizzling… or is that the bacon debate starting up?
It’s hard to stay focused when the house smells of bacon.
A little research on the subject reveals differing approaches to preparing bacon for a bark recipe, and here’s how I do it. I ‘fry’ the bacon in the oven. Why? Because this gives a nice predicable result without having to babysit the pan. Just nice even cooking and the aroma to match. Bacon fumes are such a potent elixir and a great shortcut to getting family members to cooperate with just about any task. (Start cooking bacon at just the precise moment before you ask them, every so sweetly to do that thing.)
I use regular bacon, but you may prefer sweetly-smoked bacon. Lay those bacon slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment and set in a cold oven. Turn oven up to 400°F or 200°C and walk away. Check it after 18 minutes and remove when crispy but not burned (about 18-30 minutes). I learned this technique from Rachel, and it really makes life a lot easier. (Rachel bastes her bacon with spiced butter and sugar but that’s a little too over-the-top for this blog.) I simply cook the bacon on the day before I plan to make the bacon bark, then drain the bacon by arranging in nice little rows as in the third photo above, and keep it in the fridge until I’m ready to start the recipe.
- 8-10 slices cooked and cooled lean bacon (pan fried or oven baked as noted above)
- 80 g. (2.8 oz) nuts (almonds or salt peanuts)
- 450 g. (15.9 oz) high quality chocolate in callets or chunks
- 50 g. (1.8 oz) sugar (more if you want)
- ½ - 1 teaspoon salt (sea salt, pink salt, or black salt) to taste
- Cut bacon slices in half and add to Thermomix bowl. Chop coarsely for 5 seconds/speed 5. Do not over process as we're aiming for small chunks, not crumbs. Remove bacon and set aside. Wash Thermomix and dry thoroughly so there is no moisture for the next step. (The cooking and chopping of bacon steps can be done well in advance if preferred.)
- Grind sugar for 30 seconds/speed 9. Remember to keep a cloth over the measuring cap in the lid to prevent sugar dust from escaping.
- Scrape sugar down into bowl with spatula and add chocolate. Grind for 6 seconds/speed 6.
- Remove half this chocolate sugar mixture and set aside. Heat remaining contents for 6 minutes/50°C/120ºF/speed2, with measuring cap removed. The chocolate sugar mixture will ball up and look like dough for about the first 4-5 minutes, but this is normal. It will then start to melt.
- While chocolate is being tempered in the Thermomix, prepare a silpat mat or baking tray with parchment liner. Sprinkle half the chopped bacon into a rectangular area roughly 25 x 20 cm. (see photo) Scatter most of the nuts on top, but reserving a handful for later. This is where you will be pouring the chocolate when it's ready.
- When chocolate has melted and Thermomix beeps, add the reserved ground chocolate/sugar mixture and continue to warm for 5 minutes/37°C/100ºF/speed 2.
- Scrape chocolate down from sides into bowl with spatula and heat for 1 minute/37°C/100ºF/speed 3. You will now have liquid chocolate and need to proceed swiftly before it begins to cool. Pour chocolate over bacon and nuts, moving in a back and forth pattern to cover the area in a layer that is about .5 - 1 cm thick. When all chocolate is poured, scatter remaining bacon and nuts on top and sprinkle with salt. Allow to cool for about 5-10 minutes, then transfer to fridge to continue cooling for at least 30 minutes before cutting into bite-sized pieces.