Sunday, May 20, 2012

Chocolate-Covered Turtles with Bacon

It's back! After a few months off, I finally received another food challenge at work. No, not another bake-off challenge, but an ingredient challenge.

The partner at my job loves to make requests/challenges for Friday treat that I'm bringing in that week. Of course, I take each challenge like a champ. This week's challenge was to make a dessert with bacon. I tried to pretend like it would be impossible for me to find a dessert with bacon and taste good (sometimes it's better that I keep my public displays of cockiness (or PDC) to a minimum). But little did he know, bacon in desserts was a huge fad a couple years ago and still is today. So I knew I'd be able to rock this challenge without a problem (aaand the PDC returns).

After seeing a bunch of maple bacon cupcakes, maple bacon doughnuts, and even maple bacon cookies, I was a little concerned that I wouldn't find anything unique enough. And you know me, I all about the edgy stuff.

But then, there it was...the bacon dessert recipe that blew my mind. It was unlike anything I'd ever seen before, but yet, such a simple concept: Chocolate-Covered Turtles with Bacon.




First, I guess I should explain what a turtle is, in case you live in a cave. Ok, that was mean. I apologize. You're may just be uneducated in the confections of the world. And I shouldn't blame you for that.

So yeah, turtles...turtles are pecans covered in caramel and then coated with chocolate. Typically, one uses five pecans to resemble a turtle: four feet and a head (apparently, tails aren't important). The caramel/chocolate coating represents the shell. And there you have it...a turtle!

Now, I'm  sure there's a few of you out there that aren't really feeling the chocolate + caramel + pecans + bacon idea, maybe even a little disgusted by it (shame on you, by the way). But let me tell you, all these flavors really work! The bacon is very subtle but present enough to make a difference. To test this, I didn't tell my co-workers about the bacon, but rather suggested that a "surprise" was in the middle. I'd have them eat it and then guess as to what the surprise was (this was mostly to prevent any sort of skepticism that's inherent when offering a dessert with bacon in it). They all thought it was pretty tasty but most had no idea what it could be. They were all so shocked to find out it was bacon. I fooled them! Bwahaha!

Oh, and in case you were wondering, my partner loved them. He had two before 9am. Needless to say, I'm going to get promoted real soon. Or a big fat raise. One of the two.

Recipe (courtesy of Serious Eats):

  • 3/4 pound whole pecan halves (about 3 1/2 cups)
  • 5 strips bacon
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, diced
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • One (12-ounce) package bittersweet chocolate chips* 
*I accidentally purchased milk chocolate chips instead of semi-sweet (surprisingly, I do this a lot). But I actually liked this a lot better than I would have liked the semi-sweet. 

Preheat oven to 325ºF. Spread pecans in even layer on baking sheet. Bake until the pecans are fragrant and toasted, stirring occasionally, about 6 or 7 minutes. Remove pecans from oven and let cool. This is important. By toasting the pecans, you give them a much-needed crunchy texture. If you skip this step, the pecans will taste raw and chewy. Not okay. 

Fry bacon in large skillet until very crisp, about 8 minutes. Transfer bacon to paper towel-lined plate and let cool. When bacon is cool enough to handle, cut each strip into six pieces with kitchen shears. Set bacon pieces aside.
 
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Arrange pecans in star-shaped clusters of five. You should have enough whole pecan halves to make 30 clusters. (If you don't, you can arrange broken pieces into little piles. They won't look like turtles, but they will still be delicious.) Set baking sheets aside.
 
In small saucepan, combine heavy cream, butter, and vanilla extract. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then immediately remove from heat.
In medium saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, and 1/4 cup of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook sugar mixture, without stirring but swirling pan occasionally, until it is beginning to turn golden-amber in color, about 6 to 8 minutes.

Reduce heat to medium-low. Very carefully, pour hot cream mixture into sugar mixture. It will bubble ferociously. Stir until combined. Clip candy thermometer to side of pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture reaches 248ºF (firm ball stage), 10 to 15 minutes. Remove pan from heat and allow caramel to cool slightly, about 5 minutes.

Mmm caramel

It's ready!
Using soup spoon, drop mounds of caramel into center of each pecan cluster. Top each with one piece of bacon, pressing gently to adhere. (If caramel becomes too stiff to work with, reheat gently over low heat.) Set turtles aside to cool, 45 minutes to 1 hour. If you try to cover the turtles before the caramel has cooled, it will mix with the chocolate and make it impossible to coat them completely without making a mess.

I had some without bacon since we have a few vegetarians on the team
Heat two-thirds of chocolate chips in heat-proof bowl set over pan of simmering water until melted and candy thermometer registers 110ºF - 115ºF. Remove bowl from pan and allow chocolate to cool until thermometer registers 95ºF - 100ºF. Stir in remaining third of chocolate chips until melted. This process is called tempering the chocolate. In short, tempering is a process used to in candy making to keep the chocolate from remaining soft when it gets back to room temperature. In other words, it give the chocolate a slight hard shell when it cools.
 
Using a soup spoon, top each turtle with spoonful of melted chocolate, smoothing to cover bacon completely. Set turtles aside until chocolate hardens. Turtles will keep for up to two weeks, stored between sheets of wax paper in an airtight container at room temperature.

This recipe looks intense since it has a bunch of steps but, I promise, it's not that bad. It took me about 1.5-2 hours from start to finish. Not bad, huh?

5 comments:

  1. You are a certified brilliant genius! You winged the challenge with grace. Oh my! This looks terrific. I am sure this tastes heaven!

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  2. Oh wow, I love Turtles (the kind you eat, the reptile ones give me the creeps)but never would have thought about tossing on a piece of bacon. Fabulous idea!

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  3. I know a lot of peeps who love bacon on chocolate things....thus i must make these!! I am sure they will be delicious!! Thanks for your recipe!!

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  4. How cute are these?! And they look so delicious too! Fabulous blog you have, so glad to be your newest follower! xoxo

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