Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Bacon Chocolate Chip Biscuits

Roo has a thing for Mo's Dark Chocolate Bacon Bar from Vosges. In fact he relishes his "chocolate bacon" so much that he received the Mini Bacon Chocolate Library for Christmas. By now we're all well-versed in the trend. Bacon and chocolate, chocolate and bacon. Old news, right?

But how about the crispest brown sugar-crusted bacon to ever grace your lips entwined with gooey, bittersweet chocolate wrapped in the warm buttery hug of a fluffy, buttermilk biscuit?
That's what I thought.

This all started because Deb over at Smitten Kitchen has this recipe in her killer new cookbook (which, in my house is already dog-eared and exploding with butter stains and a rainbow of post-it-notes) for Maple Bacon Biscuits. I like bacon. Bacon is my friend. There's a jar of bacon grease living on my kitchen window sill. It's kind of like a sun catcher but way more utilitarian. But maple syrup? Eh.
Born and raised in the Great Northeast it's a sacrilege to shun maple syrup, but I can't help it. It just doesn't do it for me, unless it's in a cocktail shaker with a few fingers of bourbon and lots of freshly squeezed lemon juice but that's a story for another day.
 Chocolate, though. Chocolate I can get behind in all its guises.
We're going to be candying some bacon in a minute here. It's crucial to point out that once you have completed this process you will never be the same. From this day forward you will in all likelihood require brown sugar-crusted bacon on peanut butter (or in our case, SunButter) toast. You will sprinkle it on frosted cupcakes. You will use it to garnish pasta, spinach salads, and in homemade granola. You might even find yourself tossing the last few crumbles into a French press along with the coffee grounds just to see. I thought I had better let you know.
Bacon Chocolate Chip Biscuits
Inspired by The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
makes 12 2-inch biscuits

6 slices thick-cut bacon (about 6 ounces)
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
8 tbsp (1 stick) cold butter, diced
4 tbsp cold bacon fat (or 4 additional tbsp cold butter, diced)
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1 scant cup buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil (trust me here). Place a metal cross wire cooling rack on top of the foil lined baking sheet. Spread the brown sugar in a shallow dish and dredge the bacon slices from tip to tail on both sides, pressing the sugar to make it stick. Lay the coated bacon on the wire rack. Bake for 20-30 minutes until the bacon is very crisp and dark at the edges. Let the bacon cool slightly, use a spatula to release the strips from the wire rack, then cool completely. Chop into small pieces.

Turn the oven up to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat mat. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Use a pastry cutter or two forks to cut in the cold butter and bacon fat until the largest clumps are the size of small peas. (If you don't happen to keep a jar of bacon fat on your window sill like me, all is not lost. You can safely substitute more butter for the bacon fat, though I suggest you consider reserving your bacon grease going forward. Try it on roasted Brussels sprouts instead of oil and top with what else? Candied bacon!)

Stir in the chopped bacon bits and chocolate chips. Add the buttermilk all at once and stir gently until just combined. Dump the dough onto a well floured surface and knead it a couple of times until it holds together. The less you handle it the better. Gently press the dough to a 1-inch thickness. Use a 2-inch biscuit cutter or inverted drinking glass to cut out 12 biscuits. Place the biscuits on the parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes until the tops are light golden brown.

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