Happy World Chocolate Day! Yes the food calendar which so often celebrates obscure treats and foods has of course a day designated to everyone’s favorite sweet treat. In whatever form- be it dark, milk, white, ruby or golden, nearly everyone I know has a soft spot for the timeless treat that is chocolate. In fact so much so in my case I ended up competing on a reality baking show about it. But I won’t bore you with those details.
It only seemed fitting given the day that it is that I highlight one of the keystones of my baking journey thus far- my Smokin’ Pig Licker Brownies. Bear with me and see past the name- by know you know I do like to create a talking point! Originally conceived from an idea combining two stalwart (yet polar opposite) favorites in the food world – chocolate (sweet) and bacon (savory) I will forever be indebted to these tasty morsels for earning me the “award winning” in my press kit bio title.
Wanting to pair chocolate and bacon led me to research whether this combination was a historic one, steeped in the recipes of olde, or a more recent affair. It proved to be a little of both. I mean think of the “mole sauces” of Mexican cuisine- pairing sweet and savory was indeed nothing new. But how about actual bacon? It was through this that I stumbled upon “Pig Lickers” and what they involved. A treat hailing from Southern US state fairs, Pig Lickers as such are “treats made by coating cooked bacon in chocolate, and then garnishing with chunks of sea salt”. Are we feeling it yet? The name alone had me hooked let alone that fact that it combined my two holy grail ingredients.
But I wanted to push it a little further. State fairs to me always bring that cliched image of candy floss, hot dogs, and chilli dogs. Wait! Chilli dogs?…chilli? Chilli and chocolate! There you have it! My end result- these brownies would be a classic combination of chilli and chocolate, with a thumbing of the culinary nose addition of bacon- in not one but two forms! The smoky, heat of the decadent brownies would be studded with crispy, sweet bacon pieces and then topped off with the aforementioned Pig Licker- a sliver of crispy bacon enrobed in chocolate, sprinkled with shards of sea-salt. Bet you’re on board NOW?
Before I depart to smother my bacon (!) a couple of words of advice. Don’t be tempted to use thick cut, or peameal, bacon here. The fat-to-meat ration is off and doesn’t work. Instead of crispy morsels of Umami goodness playing with luxurious chocolate, you get chunks of meat which just doesn’t sit right- taste or texture wise. Also don’t stress about tempering the chocolate. I mean you can if you want to go for the whole professional “snap” (*triggered*) finish if that’s your jam but at the end of the day these are rustic, wholesome, come-as-you are treats. Which I hope you enjoy!
- 1 cup bacon, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup
- ¾ cup unsalted butter, cubed
- 6oz semi-sweet chocolate, broken into pieces
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- ¾ cup plain flour
- ½ cup cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon mild chilli powder
- 2oz dark chocolate chunks
- 3 full pieces of bacon 3 rashers, each cut into 4
- 4oz semi-sweet chocolate, melted
- Sea salt flakes
- Set your oven to 350°F and line a deep 12″x9″ baking tray with baking parchment leaving an overhang each side
- Fry the bacon in a pan until just starting to crisp. Add the maple syrup and fry until a shade browner and crisper. Remove from the heat and leave to cool on a plate
- Melt the butter and chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (or bain-marie), stirring occasionally. Once melted, remove from the heat, and allow to cool
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar until the mixture is thickened and fluffy, then, in a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, smoked paprika and chilli powder.
- Fold the cooled chocolate mixture into the egg mixture. Sieve in the dry ingredients, and fold together until uniform in color
- Fold in the chocolate chunks and bacon pieces. You may need to break up the bacon pieces as they may have stuck together while cooling
- Pour your mixture into the lined tray and gently spread to level the surface. Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes, then leave to cool completely in the tin before cutting into squares
- To decorate, place the larger bacon pieces in the frying pan and cook until crisp. Remove and leave to cool. Melt the remaining in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (or bain-marie), or in a microwave on short bursts, until fully melted
- Coat the bacon pieces one at a time in the melted chocolate. Place a bacon piece on top of each brownie and sprinkle with sea salt
- Leave to set, serve and enjoy!