Bacon Caramel “Apples”

So this is it: the recipe you’ve been waiting for. Yesterday we posted about the Chicago Bacon Takedown—this is what we made and won the Judges’ Choice for 2nd Place with. It is pretty weird, we know, but not only will you enjoy eating this but you will be basking in sweet, bacon-y glory when you take it with you to a party this fall. I promise. I even have a vegetarian friend who wants to eat bacon now because of it.

This dessert doesn’t need much of an introduction; it is bacon + sugar + salt + butter. It pretty much speaks for itself. We looked at a bunch of different Rice Krispie marshmallow treat recipes to come up with our own spin on things. One of the things that we noticed and wanted to incorporate was browned butter—it’s an extra step but we think it adds a lot of flavor.

Bacon takeover in the fridge.

Baked, chopped and fried.

I am perplexed as to how I should "gently crush" these Apple Jacks. I definitely tried using that cutting board. It didn't work.

Making the bacon-y marshmallow mixture. Oh yum!

Incorporating the marshmallow mixture into the Apple Jacks. My right arm hurt the next day from doing this 5 times.

The mini-muffin pan was the perfect ball-forming companion.

Our lil' guys lined up on parchment paper sprayed with non-stick spray.

We finally had an (unnecessary) excuse to buy a candy thermometer!

This is a dessert, I swear!

Before you make this recipe, we need to have a talk. The recipes below are for the award winning Bacon Caramel “Apples” that were served at the Chicago Bacon Takedown. However, I would definitely do things differently in the future. Please, please, please read our notes below because they will really, really help. I promise.

“Apple” Marshmallow Bacon Balls
Time: 45 minutes   Yield: about 50 balls

16 ounces raw bacon
1 stick of unsalted butter
10 ounces of mini marshmallows
5 cups gently crushed Apple Jacks
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
50 sucker sticks

1. Follow our instructions for baking bacon and reserve the drippings . Let the bacon cool and then finely chop it up. Heat the chopped bacon in a skillet over medium heat until the grease foams while being very careful not to burn the bacon. Place on paper towels to drain and set aside.

2. Grease a large mixing bowl and a mini-muffin pan with non-stick spray or butter.

3. We’re gonna brown the butter. In a medium saucepan gently simmer butter over medium heat. Stir frequently as the butter starts to foam. Keep a close eye on the pan  (it burns easily) and continue cooking until the butter turns a light brown color and it smells nutty. The butter may still be foamy on top so look for the color change under the foam. (Check out the video below for a visual on what happens.)

4. Turn the heat off, add the mini marshmallows and stir with a non-stick spray coated spoon. The heat from the butter should be enough to melt the marshmallow but if it isn’t then turn the heat on low for 30 seconds or so.

5. When most of the marshmallows have melted, incorporate 1 cup of the cooked bacon. Continue stirring until the marshmallow mixture becomes silky smooth and all marshmallows are dissolved.

6. Add the Apple Jacks and salt to the large, greased mixing bowl and then pour the marshmallow mixture. Stir well, but gently, until the Apple Jacks are coated completely.

6. Allow the mixture to cool down slightly for about 5 minutes just so it is not so sticky to handle. Next, pinch off some of the marshmallow treat mixture and press it into the greased mini-muffin pan, using the muffin holes as a guide to form the balls. Fill the tray and then poke one sucker stick into each ball.

Bacon-infused Caramel
Time: 15 minutes     Yield: 2 cups

1-1/2 cups white sugar
1/3 cup water
1-1/2 cups half and half
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
4 tablespoons bacon fat drippings

1. Combine sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally.

2. Combine the remaining ingredients in a bowl or measuring cup.

3. Increase heat to high and bring the sugar to a boil. Continue boiling until it turns an amber color, about 5- 7 minutes. (See note below regarding candy making.) Refrain from over stirring, as this can cause the sugar to crystallize. (As it boils, the sugar may thickened and clump. This is fine, don’t be scared!)

4. Once the sugar has darkened, remove from the heat and add the half and half mixture slowly to the saucepan while stirring. Beware: It will foam!

5. When the foam subsides, heat the caramel over low heat until it becomes thick and velvety, about 2 minutes.

Serving Suggestion
Drizzle a generous amount of Bacon-infused Caramel over the  “Apples” and top with extra bacon bits immediately before serving. We put our caramel in a squeeze bottle for easy drizzlin’.

Mmm,
Mandy

Mandy’s Notes:
– While this recipe is called Bacon Caramel “Apples”, the apple part is very conceptual and that is what makes this dessert so fun. However, when we make this recipe next time we will definitely do things differently:

We would not use Apple Jacks. The apple flavor was not very evident and it was a lot more trouble than it was worth to “gently crush” them without pulverizing them. Just use Rice Krispies, some green or red food coloring and some apple flavoring (an extract or maybe apple butter.)

If you make this dessert and take those suggestions into account, let us know how they turn out. We’d love to know!

– Be very liberal with the non-stick cooking spray at any and every step of this recipe. We didn’t think of this during the first few batches we made but by the end we were spray everything: bowls, spools, mini-muffin pan and even our fingertips. It definitely helped.

– Here’s a video I found for browning butter. You can skip ahead to the 1 minute mark to get down to browning business.

Kendall’s Notes:
– I know that double cooking the bacon seems a little weird but it turned out to be the best way to cook that amount of bacon fast and get the ideal crispy texture for the bacon bits. You might be able to just chop up the raw bacon into bits and then go straight to the skillet—we didn’t have time to experiment with that.

– Crushing up Apple Jacks seems simple enough but they go from broken in half to pulverized into dust pretty easily. Breaking them by the handful in a bowl or bag seemed to work the best so that you could make sure you weren’t crushing them too much. Like Mandy said above, I think using Rice Krispies and adding coloring or flavor would be a better way to go since they’re already the perfect size and shape for forming.

– Sucker sticks were kind of hard to find. We ended up getting them at a giant craft store.

– The caramel sauce can be pretty messy so at the Bacon Takedown we served these in little jello-shot type cups. If we were taking these to a party I think that’s what we’d do again.

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One response to “Bacon Caramel “Apples”

  1. Pingback: Chicago Bacon Takedown | The Green Chalkboard

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