I love snail mail, and I'm not talking about my latest buy or the new J.Crew catalogue (though I look forward to both of those as well). I'm talking about lovely hand-written notes, holiday cards with cute animals, and best of all, homemade treats. Whether I'm sending or receiving, I get a giddy, fuzzy feeling inside. It is so easy to make someone far away feel loved and love on them through the mail, so with my sister's birthday coming up, I knew I wanted to send her a piece of love.
Growing up, Patty liked nothing more than chocolate. Brownies, cake, whatever it was, wherever we were, my family ordered it as long as it had luscious, melty chocolate. I bet by now, she is a certified chocolate connoisseur on the level of, dare I say it, Jacques Torres! Gasp! (Haha, actually, I just play. I don't think that's even possible.) In any case, I decided on brownies, but not just simple-but-still-awesomely-
delicious-box brownies, I wanted something decadent with different textures and surprising notes that was simultaneously sweet, salty and chocolate-y. So I got really bold: bacon-maple caramel brownies with "bacon chips." A few days late, but Happy Birthday Patty! I love you!
The result was not at all expected, but still delicious. The taste was phenomenal. Think deep, rich chocolate enveloping bits of sweet and salty bacon. If I were to do it again, I think I'd make a few adjustments to have a better texture. In particular, I'd make sure my caramel set rather than sort of just seep throughout the brownie which (while good) made my brownie a little bit more fudgie than I would've liked.
Bacon-Maple Caramel Brownies with "Bacon Chips"
Inspired by Kate, but significantly edited.
Bacon-Maple Caramel and Bacon Chips
- 6 pieces of bacon
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar (preferably light)
- 1/2 cup maple syrup (preferably 100% maple syrup, not pancake syrup)
- 6 tblsp butter
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Fry bacon according to package instructions in a large sauce pan making sure to keep the remaining bacon grease in the pan. Once bacon is fried crispy, remove from pan, crumble into small pieces and set aside. Pour heavy cream into into the bacon grease, stir and let cool ten minutes to incorporate flavors.
Once slightly cooled, in the same pot, combine heavy cream and bacon grease mixture with 1/2 the crumbled bacon, sugar, brown sugar, salt, maple syrup and butter. Put on medium heat until butter and sugar have melted stirring constantly and bring mixture to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat to a gentle simmer and watch your pot very carefully until it turns into a deep nutty brown. (As with all caramels, be careful to watch it carefully so that it does not burn and ruin your pot along with it.) Once it reaches your preferred depth of flavor, remove from heat and let it cool completely. Make sure you allow the caramel to cool completely, or it will not set right in the brownies.
* Box or home made, you can go with whatever your favorite brownie recipe is. I used this one, but basically, once you batter is made carefully stir in the remainder of your bacon crumbles to give your brownies an extra brownie bite.
To assemble, grease a 9x13 or 9x11 pan and heat oven to suggested temperature for whatever brownie recipe you chose.
Pour half the brownie batter into the bottom of the pan. Then add glops of your cooled caramel on top of the brownie batter. The caramel does not need to create a solid layer, rather it should be grouped so that patches of caramel are spread over the tops of your brownies. Then pour the remainder of your brownie batter on top. Then pour the reminder of your caramel in horizontal parallel lines over the top layer of your brownies. Use a knife to draw vertical parallel lines to create a cute pattern for the tops.
Bake in the oven for suggested amount of time according to your brownie recipe or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let cool completely before cutting and serving.