Bacon + Chocolate = World Peace?
When I was in 5th grade, my class went on an overnight trip to a pioneer farm. We took a tour of the farm, learned about the equipment and tools, and slept that evening in a real pioneer cabin. The next morning after breakfast, we were given our authentic pioneer chores. Mine was cleaning up after the farm’s pig, Susan Bacon Anthony. I was not amused.
While some of my friends pressed apples into cider, and other classmates tried out the tools at the blacksmith house, I trudged through the mud towards the barn. Susan Bacon Anthony was a huge pig, bright pink and vivacious. My mood lightened considerably even as I raked out her pen, and by the end of the morning, I was in love. I considered the possibilities of owning a pet pig.
By the time my parents arrived to pick me up, I had an announcement to make – I was becoming a vegetarian so that I never had to eat a Susan Bacon Anthony, or any of her friends, ever again.
My parents seemed complacent enough throughout the drive home. When they started on breakfast, though, my dad asked casually, “This means no bacon for you, right?”
As a child I was passionate about bacon. I couldn’t get enough of its smokiness, its crisp and chewy texture, its salty goodness. But at ten years old I stood my ground and agreed – no bacon. I told myself it was a sacrifice I’d have to make, and I pictured Susan Bacon Anthony’s corkscrew tail and thin, floppy ears.
As the pan sizzled and the house filled with the smell of bacon, I ended up going outside. I clutched a glass of orange juice and sipped it fervently, trying not to give in. Ten minutes into our breakfast, I caved, and took a piece of bacon from the center plate. We all knew the two hour vegetarianism had only been a half-hearted attempt at best, and I haven’t tried to play the vegetarian card since.
I’m not fooling anybody.
When faced with bacon brownies, I think many people are divided. Some might have seen the unusual combination of bacon and chocolate before in fancy restaurants or among foodie circles. But more commonly, I think most people think the idea of bacon and chocolate together sounds disgusting. You are not alone, but you might want to give it a fair chance.
My friend M- is very conservative about food. Once, when I was just starting to bake, I brought a cake with me to a friend’s house. We had cut the cake, transferred the slices to plates, and passed around the forks. My friends had the first bite halfway to their mouths when M- casually asked, “So what is this exactly?”
I answered truthfully and replied, “It’s a chocolate cake with a chocolate-sour cream frosting.” I looked up and saw that M- had put his fork right back down onto the plate, and my other friends followed his lead. “Sour cream?” He just couldn’t wrap his mind around sour cream in dessert, despite my protests, and not a single bite of the cake was even tried. Frustrated, I had to transfer all the slices back to the cake carrier and bring the untouched cake home.
The following day, I made a sour cream banana pound cake with sour cream frosting and brought it to my friends. With an entire cup of sour cream in the cake alone, they were truly about to eat their words. When the cake was fully consumed, M- having had his second slice, I told them the truth. Sour cream is delicious, and you’d like it if you gave it a chance.
After I made these brownies, M- happened to stop by. Since I began baking he’s become more adventurous, and he agreed to try one of the brownies even though he was repulsed by the combination of bacon and chocolate. He accepted the piece, examined it carefully, and then took a small bite. He proclaimed it “pretty good.”
Chocolate and bacon actually make a natural combination. The brownies are dense and fudgy, and the crumbled bits of bacon add a bit of texture and a hint of smokiness. In the same way that coffee provides a solid foundation for chocolate, bacon adds something special and elevates a simple brownie to something more.
And I can’t help but think that if maybe everyone gave Bacon Brownies a chance, we could all stand together on something, despite our differences. Bacon and chocolate = world peace.
I made these brownies for my dad, who couldn’t get a bacon brownie he’d eaten once before out of his mind. I did a bit of research, trying to figure out the best way to combine the two ingredients, and found that a very loyal and enthusiastic fan base for bacon exists.
While I don’t think I’m passionate enough to go to Bacon Camp yet, I’ll admit this embarrassing tidbit. As I was cooking the bacon for these brownies, I started singing “True Colors” under my breath. Without even realizing it, I was changing the lyrics.
And I see your true bacon
I see your true bacon
And that’s why I love you…!
My dad heard, and he couldn’t stop laughing. Such is the power of bacon.
Adapted from The Hungry Engineer
Makes a 9″x9″ pan of thin, delicious brownies
4 oz unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
4 oz (8 tablespoons) butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
4 1/2 oz flour (about 1 cup)
2 tablespoons natural cocoa (not Dutch-processed)
4 strips bacon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9″x9″ pan and set in parchment paper, letting the two ends hang over the edge. This makes a “sling” that will make lifting the brownies out of the pan very easy. Grease the parchment.
Heat a large pan over medium heat. When hot, lay in the strips of bacon. You want them to be crispy. Let them cook on each side until sufficiently cooked, then transfer to a plate with several layers of paper towel. Once cool, cut or rip the bacon into bits. I found that bits the size of your fingernail were best.
Place the chopped chocolate and the butter in a metal bowl, and set it over a pan of gently simmering water. Stir the mixture until the smooth and the chocolate has melted completely. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly, then whisk in the sugar, salt, and vanilla. Then add in the eggs, one at a time, stirring until smooth.
Sift in the flour and cocoa, and whisk to combine. Stir in the bacon bits.
Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula. Bake brownies 30-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the brownies cool in the pan for a few minutes, then use the parchment sling to lift the brownies out of the pan. Transfer them to a wire rack and let cool completely before cutting into bars.
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