Monday, December 16, 2013

Chocolate Pretzel Bacon Bark

In this Pinteresting world today, it's so easy to stumble upon a mouthwatering photo of some yummy treat, read the handful of oh-so-simple "instructions" attached and assume that your magic wand will give you the same result with zero effort.
This is a similar story, but with a wiser plot.  We do things a little differently around these parts, while some folks are baking cute gingerbread men cookies, we march to the beat of our own drum. 
Exhibit A:  
She called him Bojangles.  He may dance for you.
My sister flagged me on a Facebook dessert she came across yesterday.  Post passed and shared from person to person, there was no credit given to the original baker.  There was no reference to an actual recipe.  Just a cut/paste of jumbled together and vague "bag of this, dash of that" and an occasional actual measure to guide the would-be experimenter.
Some people with less experience would have just jumped in with both feet and just followed the leader.  I was distrustful as I read the recipe closer, finding some rather important details missing.  I also immediately knew the end result could be made better.
With bacon.
Not just any bacon.

To make a long story short, this past late summer my husband saw a foodie program wherein David Chang (from Momofuku) did an entire segment touting the glories of a down home man from Madisonville, Tennessee and his smoky mountain "cure".  In the program, the chef said that after he ate this bacon, he wondered what exactly he had been eating his entire life prior to this revelation.  My hubby chuckled and said, "life changing bacon?"  and promptly did research. 

There's a five week wait for this stuff when you order it, guys. 

David Chang wasn't blowing smoke.  He wasn't kidding.  It's that good.  Must eat to believe.

Anyway, we did the five week wait and I knew that my bacon needed to save this recipe from certain boredom.

Please accept the following recipe as a hopeful revision on the original "social media" version.  I added the details that I thought were pertinent.  Oh, and the bacon, too.

Chocolate Pretzel Bacon Bark

1/2 lb (two sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 of a 1-lb bag of thin pretzels (traditional salted) broken in pieces
16 oz of chocolate chips
Coarse Sea Salt (I used red lava salt from Hawaii)
3 strips of Benton's Bacon (or your favorite) cooked crisp, cooled, and chopped

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line a rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Break up the pretzels into pieces and cover the lined pan.  You want a single deep layer, but few open spaces.  Break them up so that you don't see much paper except around the border of the pan a bit like this:

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat.  Just when the butter starts to bubble, add the brown sugar.  Just let the sugar melt into the butter without boiling it for about 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Stay with it now, because if left unattended this can become molten lava that hardens into a sugary wall of solitude.   When the butter no longer looks separated from the sugar, pour it over the pretzels in the pan as evenly as possible.

With protected hands, slide the pan back and forth carefully and gently to distribute and let the sugar mixture flow between the pretzel pieces.  Don't worry too much about coverage, because this will head to the oven and continue to bubble and level out.  Bake this sheet for 5 minutes.

Remove the sheet to a level spot and immediately sprinkle all the chocolate chips evenly over the surface.  Place the pan back into the oven for just under a minute.  The heat will be just enough to soften the chips.  Pull the pan back out of the oven and use a spatula to quickly spread the chips into one melty layer.  Immediately sprinkle with the chopped bacon (press in any bigger pieces) and just a quick flurry of sea salt.

Place the sheet on a heat proof pad into the refrigerator for at least one hour.  When ready to serve, break the bark up into rough pieces of your preferred size. 

This bark would be equally happy courted by a cup of hot black coffee or an ice cold stout beer.