(Bacon) Bourbon Truffles

Posted: February 24th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Dairy-free, Dessert, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , | No Comments »


Photo by Edrabbit

I know, I know, it’s a little late, but these rich treats are a perfect Valentine’s day gift. Bookmark this for next year! I made these for my sweetie this year. I made half of them with bacon and half of them without. Both versions are delicious, it just depends on how much you love bacon. They’re dairy free, and if you leave out the bacon they’re vegan!

(Bacon) Bourbon Truffles

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma

INGREDIENTS

For the filling:
1/4 cup soy milk (or heavy cream)
4 tablespoons dairy-free margarine, like Earth Balance (butter works too, if you aren’t vegan) (Note: replacing part of this with bacon grease would be good if you really like bacon!)
12 oz semisweet chocolate (I like Guittard chocolate chips, which are vegan)
1/4 cup bourbon (I used Bulleit)
4 pieces of bacon
Cocoa powder, for rolling

For the coating:
12 oz. semisweet chocolate (again, Guittard chocolate chips are great)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Cut bacon into bits and cook it in a frying pan. Allow to drain on paper towels.
  2. In a heavy saucepan, combine the soy milk and margarine over medium-low heat. Stir until the margarine melts and the soy milk simmers. Remove from heat and add 12 oz. chocolate and stir until melted and smooth. A whisk is helpful here. Pour in the bourbon and bacon bits and mix thoroughly. Pour into a bowl. Cover and freeze until just firm enough to mound in a spoon, about 40 minutes.
  3. Line the bottom of a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Scoop out the filling by tablespoonfuls, spacing them evenly. Roll them into rough balls. This will be messy, and they don’t have to be perfect-looking. Cover and return to the freezer for 30 minutes.
  4. Pour cocoa powder onto a plate. Roll chocolate balls in cocoa powder to coat evenly. Re-roll balls to even them out — the cocoa powder will help them not melt and stick to your hands. They should look more like actual spheres now.
  5. Return truffles to the foil-lined baking sheet, cover, and put in the freezer while you prepare the coating.
  6. To make the coating, melt 12 oz. of chocolate in a double boiler until it’s smooth. Remove from heat.
  7. Re-roll truffles between your palms to remove any loose cocoa. Gently drop one truffle ball into the melted chocolate coating, tilting the pan if necessary to coat the ball completely. Slip a fork under the truffle, lift it from the chocolate, and tap the fork gently against the side of the pan to allow any excess chocolate to drip off. Using a knife, gently slide the truffle off the fork onto the foil-lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining truffles.
  8. Refrigerate, uncovered, until firm, about 1 hour. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

Rum Balls

Posted: December 14th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Cookies, Dairy-free, Dessert, Vegan, Vegetarian | Tags: , , , | 8 Comments »

Rum balls - the final product

This is another Lynch family classic recipe. I’ve been making these with my mom for as long as I can remember. Be warned: since these aren’t baked, they remain slightly alcoholic. However, the amount of alcohol in a single rum ball is pretty minor so you don’t need to worry about getting drunk unless you eat a whole batch (in which case you probably have other problems to worry about, like a stomachache!). I don’t know where the recipe originates, but I think it’s one of those 1960’s recipes that was passed around between housewives. I have at least one other friend who grew up making these.

The funny thing is, these decadent confections can easily be made vegan, with a little attention to ingredient lists. Make sure that your chocolate chips have no dairy (Guittard is my favorite) and look for generic brand Nilla wafers that don’t contain any eggs or dairy. The brand I use, Valu Time (!) is actually far “better” for you than name-brand Nilla Wafers. The name brand version contains all kinds of hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup, whereas Valu Time is mostly real sugar and non-hydrogenated oils. And they leave out the dairy products too (name brand Nillas have whey in them).

You can make these with bourbon instead of rum if you wish. I’ve never done it (the family tradition is to use rum) but I bet it’s delicious!

Rum Balls

INGREDIENTS

6 oz. semisweet chocolate chips (vegan)
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup rum or bourbon
2 1/2 cups crushed Nilla wafers (approx. 1 12-oz. box) (real Nillas are not vegan, but sometimes the generic brands are)
1/2 cup powdered sugar, plus more for rolling
1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)

Ingredients for rum balls

DIRECTIONS

  1. Crush Nilla wafers in a food processor, blender, or by putting them in a bag and rolling them with a rolling pin. Chop nuts, if they’re not pre-cut.
  2. Mix nuts, powdered sugar, and crushed Nilla wafers in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Melt chocolate chips and corn syrup in a double boiler.
  4. Pour melted chocolate mixture over the Nilla wafer mixture. Add rum and mix well.
  5. Let stand 1/2 hour at room temp for 30 minutes. Do not skip this step! It gives the rum time to soak into the Nilla wafer crumbs.
  6. Roll dough into balls and coat with powdered sugar. Store in an airtight container.

Rum balls marinating


Maker’s Mark Ice Cream with a Maple Caramel Swirl and Candied Bacon Bits

Posted: March 20th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Dessert, Ice Cream | Tags: , , , | 20 Comments »

Maker's Mark Ice Cream with Candied Bacon Bits

I came up with the idea for this particular ice cream for this weekend’s Bacon Camp, an event put on by Karen (and…?). I wanted to make something decadent and amazing that no one had tasted ever before. I was inspired by a few sources. Kasey’s bacon-infused Maker’s Mark came to mind (so smoky!), as did Doc Pop’s limited edition fro-yo with Cinnamon Toast Crunch, bacon bits, and maple syrup on top. I had the pleasure of having a bowl of it last week. Utterly delicious.

When I got on the web to start researching how to put this recipe together, I found that I was not the first to attempt this bacon ice cream thing. The recipe to which I owe the greatest credit was David Lebovitz’s Candied Bacon Ice Cream. It even has a bit of alcohol in it, though it is less of a focus.

I ran into trouble with his recipe, though. The bacon didn’t candy as I’d hoped it would. The problem was that the technique didn’t allow the fat and moisture to drain at all– American bacon has a LOT more fat than French bacon, judging from the pictures. What I got, even after cooking for an additional 10 minutes, was delicious sticky gooey floppy bacon, not crisp little bacon bits encased in hard sugar as I’d hoped. I tucked those away in the fridge for, uh, safekeeping and moved on to the next candied bacon recipe— this one posted on epicurious, care of Gourmet magazine, February 2007. I used brown sugar instead of demerara sugar, and chopped the bacon into bits before cooking them.

Though it was better than the last, this recipe failed me too. I found that even after I drained the pan, the residual oil and crusty bacon stuff stuck to the bottom of the pan caused the sugar to melt unevenly and not cover the bacon very well. Ultimately, the result tasted burnt–partly, I think, because the sugar burnt slightly (being brown sugar, I couldn’t tell when it was caramelized), and partly because the bacon stuff on the bottom of the pan burned. The bacon bits also stuck together, and the candy surrounding them was slightly tacky on the tooth, rather than being crisp, like I wanted. Lastly, the bacon was overdone. Still pretty tasty, but not good enough.

Armed with my newfound knowledge, I devised a plan of my own: cook the bacon bits to perfection, let them drain on paper towels. In a small, clean sauce pan, melt regular white sugar just until the sugar is dissolved. Add bacon bits and quickly coat them, then pull them out and put them on parchment paper. Third time’s the charm; it worked beautifully! Well, mostly. When the sugar cooled almost instantly as it hit the bacon, it all stuck together into a giant bacony, sugary glob. This made it difficult to get even coverage. I spent a while painstakingly separating the bits into more managable pieces. While it could have been a little better, the result was close enough: slightly crisp, slightly tender bacon bits encased in a crisp sugar shell.

For the ice cream itself, I used David Lebovitz’s recipe, with a few slight alterations: I used 1/4 cup Maker’s Mark* instead of a mere 2 teaspoons, I added 1 1/2 teaspoons molasses, and I nixed the cinnamon. One very important thing I learned when making the custard was not to let the initial butter/brown sugar/half & half mixture get too hot. It will curdle and you will have to throw it away. I somehow managed to do this TWICE. Don’t let it boil, heck don’t let it bubble at all. Just warm it up. Be similarly careful you’ve added the eggs in, too.

*Note: don’t be tempted to try to reduce the bourbon in an attempt to get the ice cream to freeze better. It just ruins the bourbon, which will make you very, very sad. The ice cream will freeze just fine, I promise.

Lastly, I had to make the maple caramel swirl for the ice cream. I used this recipe–also from epicurious/Gourmet November 1998–and substituted maple sugar for the light corn syrup. It didn’t turn out perfectly. I believe I didn’t let the sugar/syrup/water mixture boil for long enough because I couldn’t tell when it was an appropriate “deep golden caramel” color– the color of the maple syrup threw me off. A candy thermometer would help with this, though I don’t know what temp to bring it to. I ended up adding the cream/vanilla mixture too soon, and it didn’t seize up like it said it would. I try to cook it for a long time after the cream had been added to compensate, and in the end I got a caramel that was the perfect consistency, except it was a bit grainy in texture. I’m not sure if that’s from the milk solids curdling or the maple syrup crystalizing, but it still tastes DELICIOUS (and maple syrup is expensive) so I decided to keep it.

Tonight I finally put it all together. It is divine. The ice cream/caramel is ridiculous just on its own, and the bacon is wild– it totally throws me off! So salty-sweet and crunchy. Now we just have to see if the crunchiness will stick around after the bacon bits have been immersed in the ice cream for a while.

“Shut up Heather, just give us the recipe already!” you’re saying. Okay okay, here it is:

Maker’s Mark Ice Cream with a Maple Caramel Swirl and Candied Bacon Bits

[Note: Please do not copy and paste this recipe into your blog without asking me first. Do feel free to link to it and post excerpts or rewritten/tweaked versions! Thanks!]

Adapted in part from David Lebovitz’s Candied Bacon Ice Cream recipe, and Gourmet’s Coffee Caramel Swirl Ice Cream recipe.

This is a multi-step, two day process, so be sure to allot enough time!

INGREDIENTS

For the ice cream custard:
3 tablespoons salted butter
3/4 cup (packed) brown sugar
2 3/4 cup half-and-half (make sure the kind you get has no added carrageenan)
5 large egg yolks
1/4 cup Maker’s Mark bourbon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons molasses

For the maple caramel swirl:
pinch sea salt
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup water
7 tablespoons heavy cream (again, no added carrageenan)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

For the candied bacon bits:
5 slices thick-cut, applewood smoked bacon
1/3 cup sugar
Parchment paper (or a brown paper bag)

Day 1:

Make the bacon bits:

  1. Cut the raw bacon into 1cm squares — cutting each strip in half lengthwise, and several times crosswise.
  2. In a heavy skillet over med-high heat, cook the bacon bits until slightly crisp but still a bit chewy, being careful to not burn or overcook them.
  3. While the bacon is cooking, prepare a plate with paper towels on it to drain the bacon, and lay out a piece of parchment paper for the candied bacon.
  4. Place bacon bits on paper towel to drain; pat off excess fat. Pour off fat from pan and save it for some other tasty treat.
  5. Pour 1/3 cup sugar into a small heavy saucepan. Over low to medium heat, melt the sugar just until all the crystals are dissolved and the sugar syrup looks homogeneous. Be careful as you’re doing this; sugar melts slowly but burns quickly — keep heat lower rather than higher. As soon as sugar has dissolved, immediately add the bacon bits and stir to cover. Place bacon bits on parchment paper and separate from each other. (There may be a better way to do this, like to dip each bacon bit individually, or add them in small batches, or pour the sugar over them, or something. I haven’t tried it.)
  6. Allow bacon bits to cool on the parchment.

Make the maple caramel swirl:

  1. In a heavy saucepan, boil sugar, maple syrup, water, and a pinch sea salt over moderate heat, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Boil mixture, without stirring, gently swirling pan, until it is a deep golden caramel color. (Note: this is difficult to tell with the maple syrup. A candy thermometer might help, but I couldn’t tell you what temperature to bring it to.*)
  2. Remove pan from heat and carefully pour cream and vanilla down side of pan (mixture will vigorously steam and caramel will harden). Simmer mixture, stirring, until caramel is dissolved. Remove pan from heat and cool caramel. Caramel swirl may be made 1 week ahead and chilled, covered. Bring to room temp before using (heat slightly if too stiff to pour).

*I added the cream too soon, so I just continued boiling the mixture until it was the correct thickness. I tested thickness by dropping a bit of it on a cool plate and letting it cool to room temp. Then I ate it.

Make the ice cream custard:

  1. Pour half of the half-and-half (about 1 and a little more than 1/3 cup) into a large bowl and set it in an ice bath.* Set a mesh strainer over the top of the bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, lightly whisk together 5 egg yolks.
  3. Melt 3 tablespoons butter over low heat in a heavy, medium sized saucepan. Stir in the brown sugar and the other half the half-and-half and whisk it till the brown sugar is somewhat dissolved. Heat just to warm, and keep a close eye on it. Too hot, and the half-and-half will curdle and you will have to start over.
  4. Gradually add the warm brown sugar mix to the eggs, whisking constantly as you pour. Pour the entire mixture back into the sauce pan.
  5. Cook over low to moderate heat, constantly stirring and scraping the bottom with a heatproof spatula, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula.
  6. Strain the custard into the half-and-half, stirring over the ice bath until cool.* Add the 1/4 cup bourbon, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla, and 1 1/2 teaspoon molasses. Stir till well mixed.
  7. Place in sealed container and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Overnight is best — it allows the flavors to really mix.
  8. Make sure your ice cream maker’s bowl is in the freezer so that it’s frozen by the next day.

*Note: I skipped the ice bath because I didn’t have any ice, and it worked fine.

Day 2

Putting it all together:

  1. Pull the caramel swirl out of the fridge and bring it to room temp.
  2. Put together the ice cream maker, turn it on, and pour in your ice cream custard. Freeze in the ice cream maker for 1/2 hour, at least, until it’s nearly doubled in volume and seems as frozen as it’ll get. It will still be soft — home made ice cream needs to go into the freezer for a few hours to really set.
  3. Working quickly, stir in the bacon bits while the ice cream is still in the frozen bowl. In a few smaller containers (I used margarine containers), put down a layer of ice cream. Add a layer of caramel swirl. Add another layer of ice cream, then another layer of caramel swirl, then another layer of ice cream. Put the lids on and place ice cream in freezer to finish freezing.

YOU’RE DONE! Lick the bowls, if you’re not already sick to your stomach from having done just that for 2 days in a row! ;)


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