Who doesn’t like bacon and eggs?
Ok, maybe vegans. And folks who are kosher. And people who don’t eat eggs. Or those who don’t like bacon. But I’m not sure that’s possible. (I have a great bacon joke, but it’s not ‘pc’, so I’d better keep it to myself.)
I’m a big fan of both bacon and the beautiful, bright-orange yolked eggs we get in France, so why confine them to breakfast? I was pretty sure Candied Bacon Ice Cream would work. I mean, it’s got salt. It’s got smoke. So why not candy it? Inspired by Michael Ruhlman, l wanted to see what would happened when they all got together.
Candying the bacon was a hoot. Being in an experimental mood, I tried everything from agave nectar to maple syrup to dark raw cassonade sugar.
I lined up five strips and baked them off.
Surprisingly, the best results I had was using regular light brown sugar. The agave nectar I painted on, as well as the maple syrup—which I had impossibly-hopeful hopes for—just slid right off. I suppose I could’ve reduced maple syrup to a thick glaze before brushing it on, but I’m down to the last quarter of the bottle I brought back from the Greenmarket in New York.
And as much as I love you all, I don’t love you more than maple syrup.
Still, for flavor and crisp-itude, the light brown sugar won hands-down and baked to a firm, shiny-sweet glaze. Of course, individual ovens vary and although I asked my charcutier to cut my bacon on the moderately-thick side (around ¼-inch or ½ centimeter)—if yours is thinner or thicker, keep an eye on it in the oven. American bacon tends to throw off lots of fat, so you might want to bake it on a rack.
(Someone came over to write a story about my kitchen last week and was a bit surprised I didn’t have a microwave. Unfortunately it came down to a space-issue an the monster espresso machine won out. So I candied my bacon the old-fashioned way.)
As I was scooping the ice cream out of the machine and tossing in the bits of candied bacon, getting ready to lick the spatula (hey, pipe down…no one was looking…) I had a last-minute thought that dusting of ground cinnamon would be nice, so I added it. I tend to be pretty restrained when using cinnamon around here since if I offer a taste of something with more than a very light dusting of it to French friends, they have a hard time getting past the cinnamon and I can’t get an accurate evaluation from them.
They do like cinnamon, just not in the vast quantities we American like to shovel in. So I wanted it to be subtle and not off-putting, but present. Aren’t I good at pleasing everyone? Très ‘pc’.
My final test was when I brought a small container of this to my butcher to see what he thought. I didn’t tell him what it was and he took a bite. I waited. He tasted. The priceless look on his face!
Then I breathed a sigh of relief when he polished it off and gave it the thumbs up.
But then again, he’s a little biased.
Bacon Ice Cream
For the candied bacon
- 5 strips bacon
- about 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
For the ice cream custard
- 3 tablespoons (45g) salted butter
- 3/4 cup (140g) packed brown sugar, light or dark (you can use either)
- 2 3/4 cups (675ml) half-and-half
- 5 large egg yolks
- 2 teaspoons dark rum or whiskey
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- optional: 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- To candy the bacon, preheat the oven to 400F (200C).
- Lay the strips of bacon on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat or aluminum foil, shiny side down.
- Sprinkle 1½-2 teaspoons of brown sugar evenly over each strip of bacon, depending on length.
- Bake for 12-16 minutes. Midway during baking, flip the bacon strips over and drag them through the dark, syrupy liquid that’s collected on the baking sheet. Continue to bake until as dark as mahogany. Remove from oven and cool the strips on a wire rack.
- Once crisp and cool, chop into little pieces, about the size of grains of rice. (Bacon bits can be stored in an airtight container and chilled for a day or so, or stored in the freezer a few weeks ahead.)
- To make the ice cream custard, melt the butter in a heavy, medium-size saucepan. Stir in the brown sugar and half of the half-and-half. Pour the remaining half-and-half into a bowl set in an ice bath and set a mesh strainer over the top.
- In a separate bowl, stir together the egg yolks, then gradually add some of the warm brown sugar mixture to them, whisking the yolks constantly as you pour. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan.
- Cook over low to moderate heat, constantly stirring and scraping the bottom with a heatproof spatula, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula.
- Strain the custard into the half-and-half, stirring over the ice bath, until cool. Add liquor, vanilla and cinnamon, if using.
- Refrigerate the mixture. Once thoroughly chilled, freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Add the bacon bits during the last moment of churning, or stir them in when you remove the ice cream from the machine.
More Bacon Bits:
Put your money where your bacon is
Homemade bacon vodka
Your daily bacon
Bacon for boo-boos
Maple Bacon cupcakes
Even vegetarians like bacon