Saturday, August 30, 2014

Sweet, Salty, Crunchy, Chewy, Spicy, Smooth and Cool

All in one bite? Well, maybe two, but it's all here. Certain occasions call for a little extravagance and even a bit of decadence. I've been working on this recipe to make as a little cocktail nibble for an event coming up, and I believe this version is worthy of at least trying to write it down as a recipe. 

Sweet, Salty, Crunchy, Chewy, Spicy, Smooth and Cool

Spicy Candied Duck Bacon with Mango/Sriracha Hummus*

*this is a very specific sort of recipe, calling on very specific ingredients. If you have access to my same ingredients, I highly recommend trying this. If not, I highly recommend using what you have available and making your own interesting version. This recipe is also based on creating a tasty tidbit for about 25 people, so adjust as needed for your own consumption. :)

a test run with pork bacon - also good!


1 pound thinly sliced duck bacon*
   *from Katuah Market if you're local to Asheville, NC, but it's been tested with 'regular' bacon too.

1 cup raw cane sugar
1 cup maple sugar**
3/4 TBSP cayenne (or more or less based on your own heat index)
1 1/2 TBSP ground ginger
1 TBSP freshly grated ginger
2 TBSP blackstrap molasses

Roots Mango Sriracha Hummus***

Preheat oven to 375F.

Line a large sheet cake pan with parchment paper, then place a cooling rack on top. Make sure the paper is well below the rack and not touching the top bars.

**I know maple sugar isn't easy to find everywhere (I also found that at Katuah), but using it over maple syrup gives a nicer candy texture, and less moisture as it cools. If you are using maple syrup, I suggest a higher ratio of the cane sugar to the syrup.

NOTE: Duck bacon shrinks. A lot. That was a bit of a surprise, so if you want 'cocktail' portions, keep your strips at about 4" long, as they'll shrink up a good bit but will provide a nicely concentrated bite of flavor!

If you need to cut down your bacon strips, so that and set aside.

Combine the dry sugars, gingers and cayenne in a shallow bowl and mix thoroughly to combine and coat the grated ginger with the sugars. Drizzle the molasses on top, and again using your fingers, quickly combine to distribute the molasses throughout. 

a touch of molasses adds a nice richness

ANOTHER NOTE: You might want to keep a damp towel on hand, as you're about to cover your hands in sugary fun. And if you have any small cuts on your fingers, the cayenne pepper will find them. :)

Take each bacon slice and coat each side with the sugar mix. If it doesn't stick well, get one side coated as much as possible, then place the slice on the cooling rack that's placed on the parchment lined sheet cake pan. Add more sugar mix to the top in an even layer. Repeat with remaining slices (you may have to do a couple of batches - you can keep the slices close, but don't let them touch).

I should have taken the "after" picture to show the shrinkage

Place in the pre-heated oven and check after 12 minutes. Rotate the pan, then check again in another 5 minutes. The bacon will get darker, and the extra sugars will drip down onto the parchment and will, just at the moment the bacon is perfectly cooked, start to scorch and might even smoke. Be patient to make sure the bacon is cooked well, but watch it carefully because you don't want burnt sugar bacon!

Remove from the oven when done, and move the bacon rack onto a clean piece of parchment. Use tongs to loosen the bacon from the rack, and let cool completely.

To serve, place a small dollop of Roots Mango Sriracha Hummus*** on one end of each bacon strip. You can serve on a platter, or place each strip in a mini-muffin cup.

***a new flavor from Roots, currently available via Whole Foods and eventually in other stores as well. If your WF store doesn't carry Roots yet, go ask for it! You can try another flavor/hummus for this recipe, but I can't think of one with the specific flavor combination that works as well. The light sweetness and lingering spice are actually a cooling foil to the salty spice of the bacon. 

Storing/Serving Note: You can make this ahead, and store between layers of parchment paper. While it doesn't necessarily need refrigeration, I found that the texture benefited - store it without the hummus, then take it out of the fridge at least 10 minutes before you want to serve, and add the dollop of hummus at that time.

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