One of the things I knew I had to write about when I started this blog was “bacon mania”. In the past few years bacon has been an unusual ingredient popping up in all sorts of desserts (and drinks): ice cream, chocolate, cookies, donuts, cupcakes, crème brûlée- you name it, it’s been done. It sounds strange but so intriguing.
UNFORTUNATELY, between me researching this bacon obsession and actually writing this post, the weirdest thing happened: The TV show ‘Better Homes and Gardens’ featured a recipe for “bacon and eggs ice cream”. What?! Bacon ice cream has gone mainstream?! Seeing “Fast Ed” make it kind of ruined the allure for me. But I’m writing this damn post anyway!
First, let’s break down some conventional flavour combinations:
Salty + sweet flavours= GOOD.
Consider the appeal of salted nuts on ice cream, chocolate-covered pretzels, or mixing salty popcorn and M&Ms- it’s like a party in your mouth. And seeing salt as an important element in sweets is another relatively recent dessert trend. But there are old classics, like salted caramel. And slightly less classic inventions, like chocolate-covered potato chips.
Sweet flavours + savoury/salty food= GOOD.
I think it’s universally acknowledged that sweet flavours CAN be a good match for savoury flavours and meats: honey-glazed ham, pork and apple, turkey and cranberry, Moroccan lamb stews with apricots, raisins, or prunes – the lists goes on.
But the absolute best sweet meat hands down (this is obviously an objective statement) is the maple sausage.
Whether made with pork, chicken or turkey, the addition of (real) maple syrup somehow makes these small breakfast sausages unbelievably juicy. I’ll admit I’ve only ever ones that come frozen in a box, and they are perhaps the richest sausages in the world. But in small doses they’re the perfect special occasion breakfast treat with pancakes or waffles.
Not surprisingly, this sweet meat combination comes from the maple farming regions of eastern Canada and America’s north-east (folks in those parts can be a little maple syrup nuts).
I don’t think you’ll find maple sausages in Australian supermarkets or cafés though, so if you want to try them you might have to make them yourself. But even if you’ve never had a maple sausage you’ve probably had bacon with pancakes and maple syrup. You might never eat steak and cake in one bite, but these three things are a match made in heaven. Bacon and maple syrup, like maple sausages, are a perfect pairing because together they feature the trinity of indulgence: salty, fatty, and sweet. That’s why many bacon desserts also include maple syrup. It’s like turning a big yummy breakfast into a small yummy dessert.
The reason bacon is the chosen one is because unlike other meats it can get really crispy and caramelised. It has to be properly browned so that the texture is more candied than meaty. Soft bacon in sweets would NOT have the same appeal.
If these bacony sweets are calling out to you, dessert guru David Lebovitz has a recipe for Candied Bacon Ice Cream on his website. Or if (like me) you don’t have an ice cream maker, this article includes some really tempting recipes, like the Chocolate Chip-Bacon-Pecan Cookies. I was seriously THIS close to getting up and making them while writing this post. Although I’m missing the pecans, and more importantly, the bacon…
[Anyone with a kosher or vegetarian diet, please excuse this bacon celebration.]