Bacon for dessert? That's becoming less of a strange notion as the breakfast mainstay turns up more often in brownies, cookies, cupcakes, chocolates and, here, ice cream. If you like the sweet-salty combination of chocolate-covered pretzels, it's not that much of a stretch. For dessert purposes, Belmont Butchery owner Tanya Cauthen suggests plain hickory, brown-sugar hickory or brandy-peppercorn maple bacon.
The Right Match
Jeanne-Louise Womble, chocolatier and owner of de Rochonnet Delights (13228 Midlothian Turnpike, 794-1551), creates confections using crisp pieces of maple-cured bacon and dark French chocolate. "The whole thing is about matching flavors," she says. For his bacon brownies (a popular item at the South of the James Market), Mark McIntyre of Norwood Cottage Bakery (norwoodcottage.com) prefers hickory-smoked bacon. "There's a certain smoky earthiness in the dark chocolate that complements the savory saltiness of the bacon," he says.
Cauthen of Belmont Butchery explains her hickory-smoking method: "Bacon is made from pork belly. So we trim it, then rub with our cure and spices. It gets flipped every day for four to eight days. The salt in the cure extracts the water in the meat and ‘cures' it. The sugar and spices in the cure balance out the harshness of the salt and add flavor. When we deem it ‘cured' and ready, the bellies are washed and dried, and additional flavorings rubbed onto the bellies.'' They dry overnight. Then they are smoked at a very low temperature. The bellies are then chilled overnight to finish setting them.
Contributed by Travis Milton, head chef and co-owner of Parkside Café (3514 Forest Hill Ave., 864-8888). Milton recommends using applewood- or cherrywood-smoked bacon. At Parkside, he serves the bacon ice cream with apple dumplings.
Maple-Bacon Ice Cream and Bacon Waffle Cone
Makes 6 to 8 ice-cream cones
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla
- 1 cup of cream
- 1 1/2 cups of confectioners sugar
- 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1/4 pound of sliced bacon
Cook the bacon until it's crispy and set it aside to cool. Once cooled, place the bacon into a food processor until it is of a dust-like consistency. Whip the cream and vanilla until the mixture is thick and mousse-like. Sift together the sugar and flour and combine with the cream. Fold in the bacon and let the mixture set for 30 minutes. Then pour a thin layer in a waffle maker or waffle-cone maker and cook until browned, about 3 minutes. Remove the wafer and fold it over itself into a cone shape. Make additional cones with the remaining batter.
Maple Bacon Ice Cream
- 2 cups of heavy cream
- 3/4 cup of milk
- 1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
- 3 strips of thinly sliced bacon
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 cup of brown sugar
- 1/4 cup of maple syrup
Combine the cream, milk, vanilla and uncooked bacon strips in a pot with a heavy bottom. Scald the mixture on low heat, and then remove it from the heat and refrigerate overnight. Warm the mixture on low heat until a foam begins to form, then turn off the heat. Combine the maple syrup, sugar and egg yolks in a mixing bowl. Stir in one cup of the bacon-cream mixture to temper (or warm) the eggs. Then pour the tempered mix back into the pot and heat it until the mixture reaches 180 degrees (or until it coats the back of a spoon), stirring constantly. Strain the mixture to remove the bacon slices and cool it for two hours. Pour the mixture into an ice-cream maker and churn until it is frozen and the volume has increased by a third.