Salted caramel is all the rage these days. As is putting bacon in anything. And who doesn't love bourbon? So I propose we marry all of these beautiful things together. Bourbon bacon salted caramels for the win!
These caramels are rich and addictive and completely customizable to how much of a bacon experience you want. The bourbon acts as a replacement to vanilla extract, so if you're looking for a non-alcoholic version, you can make an easy substitution.
The next time you're looking for a slightly racy treat, give this bourbon bacon salted caramel recipe a try! You won't be disappointed.
Step 1: Materials
12 ounces (340g) bacon
1 cup (236mL) heavy cream
2 tablespoons (30mL) bacon fat (from cooked bacon)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (300g) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (60mL) corn syrup
1/4 cup (60mL) water
1 tablespoon (15mL) bourbon (or vanilla extract)
8 ounces (227g) pecans
Small sauce pan
Large sauce pan
Candy thermometer - love, love, love this one
Step 2: Get Everything Ready
It's a good idea to get everything prepped in advance, as once you start making the caramel, you're going to need to keep an eye on it.
Cook your bacon.
Strain the grease into a container to use in the next step.
Chop the bacon up into small pieces.
If you're using pecans, chop them up into small pieces.
Grease your pan with butter and sprinkle with pecan pieces.
Measure out the rest of your ingredients and have them standing by.
Step 3: Simmer Down Now
Combine the heavy cream, bacon fat, and salt in a small sauce pan. Bring to a simmer.
Step 4: Make the Candy
Combine the sugar, corn syrup, and water, and stir to combine into a thick paste.
Clip on your candy thermometer, set for caramel, 320F (160C).
Let cook without stirring until it reaches the appropriate temperature.
Step 5: Make It Creamy
Once the sugar has reached temperature, remove from heat and drizzle in the cream mixture.
Whisk vigorously to combine, and return to heat.
Cook caramel until it reaches firm ball stage, 245-255F (118-124C) for a firm caramel. Cooking to a lower temp (240-245F / 116-118C) will yield a softer caramel.
When caramel has reached temperature, stir in the bourbon until well combined,
Step 6: Pour and Set
Pour the caramel over the prepared baking dish.
Sprinkle chopped bacon and coarse sea salt over the top. I know adding more salt to this sounds like madness, but it really isn't overboard. Try it both ways and see what you like!
Let caramel sit for at least two hours to firm up. Cut and wrap pieces in parchment.
Step 7: Making Pretty
I had the good fortune to employ the help of audreyobscura to help me with this photo shoot. Since I like the way the final pictures of these caramels turned out, I thought I'd share that process too!
The caramels came out a bit softer than I had hoped, so after cutting them, I placed a few of them in the freezer so they would firm up and we'd have more time to play with photographing them before they started to 'melt."
We placed the frozen caramels on the tops of over-turned wine glasses on a large white sweep (like this one). Then we used a Canon 60D outfitted with an external Canon Speedlite 580EX II flash pointed owards the ceiling. This gave us additional light without it being too direct and overwhelming.
We shot with the camera set to aperture priority with the aperture set very low to create a short field of focus. That made whichever part of the photo we chose stand out, and the rest recede from focus.
Since we were battling overhead lights in combination with the flash, I did some final editing work in Photoshop Elements to balance the color. You could do the same with a free program like Pixlr, but the program I used has some handy shortcuts that I really enjoy.
I hope that helps in your own future photographing ventures!