Wrapping up Sweeps Week for me is a longtime friend. One of my longest. Between the two of us, we’ve experienced a lot of life and lived to tell about it. And we do– in blogs! Today’s SuperStar Guest Blogger is Cindy Karnitz.
Cindy is a published writer in fiction, non-fiction and poetry as well as a published editor. Her histories are rich within the arts. She makes jewelry, works with fiber and mixed media, and is a savant in the kitchen. My favorite attribute about her is her zest for experiencing new things. She is a perpetual learner with much to teach.
How did you come up with … Bacon Brittle?
by Cindy Karnitz
On very special occasions, or whenever I am cooking bacon and I have some leftover, I make bacon brittle. Think peanut brittle sans peanuts plus bacon. Delicious, crispy, pan-fried bacon.
My preference is to only use locally produced bacon from Eickman’s Meat Processing in Seward Illinois. The difference between mass produced grocery store bacon and Eickman’s bacon is the difference between myself and Queen Elizabeth. I am ordinary and run of the mill while Elizabeth is, well, the queen to beat all queens. Yes, Eickman’s bacon costs more, about $9 per pound, but with your first flavorful bite you will agree that it is money well spent.
Back to the question of “How did I come up with the concept of Bacon Brittle?” These days bacon incorporated into sweet confections is very trendy. I dislike trendy. If ‘it’ (Sriracha anyone?) is trendy I am usually already over ‘it’. I just ran a quick Google search and the term bacon brittle returned 495,000 hits.
I first made bacon brittle for an art gallery opening in June of 2012. The exhibit theme was “HARD”; all the artwork was tactically hard. Brittle is a hard substance and a good walking around an art gallery finger-nosh. I was also serving Scotch to drink and for some reason the vision of raiding Scotsmen eating bacon popped into my head. In my own weird logic the combination of salty and savory bacon in a sweet and crunchy brittle base sounded like a good foil to the smoky smoothness of the Scotch.
If you have not tried making candy at home before, it is scientific in nature but still less complex than most of the experiments in your high school chemistry class. Don’t be scared, you can do it!
The necessary equipment list is rather short and the ingredients are minimal. You will need a well-greased flat metal pan; I use a pizza pan greased with a bit of the liquefied bacon fat. Also, a two quart sauce pan, a metal or wooden spoon, and a candy thermometer.
The ingredients; white granulated sugar, light corn syrup (Oh calm down, it is not the same as high fructose corn syrup), water, salt, baking soda and bacon. The entire process of brittle-making takes less than twenty minutes.
I do have my own proprietary recipe for bacon brittle that I will include in my forthcoming book 365 Dinners, so thank you for allowing me the shameless plug. I suggest that you use your grandmother’s recipe for brittle, substituting a full cup of crumbled bacon in place of the peanuts. You can also search the internet for one of the many bacon brittle recipes.
These recipe steps are virtually the same no matter the origin of your brittle recipe.
- Place the sugar, corn syrup, water and salt in the two quart sauce pan.
- Place the pan over medium high heat.
- Stir constantly to blend the ingredients and to allow the granulated sugar to melt as the concoction heats up.
- Once you have a clear mixture with no distinct sugar granules, insert the candy thermometer into the interior of the pan, right into the sugar mixture, and clip the thermometer onto the side.
- After the thermometer is in place, keep the temperature at medium high and STOP STIRRING! The mix will begin to bubble and boil and the temperature will steadily rise.
- Have your measured baking soda and your crumbled bacon at the ready. The final few minutes will go super-fast.
- Once the mixture reaches the hard crack stage, 300-310 degrees Fahrenheit, remove the thermometer from the mix being very careful not to drip any of the candy on your skin.
- While the pan is still on the heat, quickly, dump in the baking soda and stir twice. Dump in the bacon and vigorously stir to evenly distribute the bacon in the candy mixture.
- The mixture will foam and about triple in volume – this is normal!
- Quickly, pour the liquid bacon brittle onto your greased pan. Use the back of the spoon to spread the candy to an even thickness.
- Let the brittle harden then crack into pieces for eating. I use my heavy meat tenderizing mallet to easily crack the brittle
Store in an airtight container and eat within a week. Good luck to you if it lasts that long.
The remaining unanswered question is this; why did I write about bacon brittle for the Mary Fran Says blog? Because Mary, owner and writer of the aforementioned blog, is big on get-togethers. Get-togethers for football games, for Bunco, for holidays, for babies. Just about any occasion is a great reason for Mary to throw one of her epic get-togethers. Bacon brittle is an equally epic savory / sweet treat that works for any one of these epic events. Mary is also my good friend, and good friends deserve gifts like bacon brittle.
Thank you for letting me share.