Batter Licker

November 8, 2011

project wedding dessert bar: part 11 (cashew bacon brittle)

Until the wedding, I had never made a brittle that wasn’t chock full of peanuts. I also had never been married, and had never had such beautiful signage for my dessert bar designed and made by my dear peanut-allergic friend CB of Darts Meet Heart.

So when I saw Irvin’s bacon peanut brittle pictures on Eat the Love, and subsequently became obsessed with it despite not being a bacon freak, I knew I had to find a way to include it in the dessert bar without causing CB’s cheeks to puff up.

Luckily, CB gets along just fine with cashews, and after a quick Twitter affirmation from Irvin that yes, cashews should substitute just fine, I proceeded to pull out cashews, bacon and sugar. Little did I know how much trouble the sugar would later cause me.

But diced up a heck of a lot of bacon, refilling my cutting board with uncut strips of fatty pork about 6 times.

Then I fried the bacon until super crispy, but not burnt.

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Getting the bacon crisp initially took much more time than I thought, so I quickened the process by draining the bacon fat from the pan a few times.

Per usual, I strained the bacon while removing it from the pan, and scooped it atop paper towels to absorb the excess fat. Rinse and repeat for the several remaining batches.

In retrospect, this bacon-crisping process would have been much easier, faster and cleaner in the oven, given that I was making enough for wedding full of guests.

Bacon aside, it became cashew time. (more…)

October 26, 2011

project wedding dessert bar: part 8 (fleur de sel caramels; bourbon spice caramels)

Syndicated on BlogHer.comI’m not trying to fool you. I know you’ve seen me make caramel before, and in step-by-step detail. But not with bourbon and Fall spices.

For wedding dessert bar purposes, I kept up appearances by making about 400 of my standard fleur de sel caramels. I had to, or there might have been an Occupy Dessert Bar movement. Seriously. People get passionate over burnt sugar with salt, at least in my family.

But for my own creative purposes, I wanted to try something a little different. Something infused with Autumn. Something boozy. Bourbon spice caramels were born.

After pulling out all ingredients, I re-focused on exactly how much butter was going into this dual caramel candy-making escapade. A lot.

As in that entire stick plus 2 tablespoons of butter below was only one eighth of the amount. Granted, no one was going to eat a butter stick’s worth of caramel in one sitting, but some might come dangerously close.

I looked away from the butter and cream mixture and started working on the separate pot of soon-to-be-burnt sugar.

Instead of the water used in my original fleur de sel recipe, I used bourbon here. I’m not sure if that’s how the pros do it, as I admittedly made this up as I went. And even when I looked online later to validate my in-the-moment decisions, all I found were bourbon caramel sauces. Not helpful since they don’t cook at nearly as high of a temperature.

Anyway, beyond the crazy amount of butter, I also went through two entire 10-pound bags of sugar … (more…)

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