Give a man a snack, you keep him sated until dinner; teach a man to create a snack, and he'll make it once, tell everyone about it, and then never make it again, no matter how excellent it is.
This weekend I made maple bacon fudge. I may never make it again, but I am better for the experience.
I know what you're thinking: Oh great, another snackologist who thinks his vast expertise qualifies him to cook. He wants to be on Food Network, rubbing elbows with Bobby Flay and Alton Brown.
That's completely unfair and, quite frankly, hurtful. It's also true. Sometimes the truth hurts.
First off, I could never rub elbows with the likes of Flay or Brown. I am much taller than they are, and our elbows wouldn't meet. I do, however, live maybe ten miles away from Alton's house. Sometimes I drive by, hoping maybe they'll be filming and I'll see myself passing by his window. Sometimes I just sit there and stare. There is nothing wrong with me.
As for the cooking aspirations, I don't cook; I bake.
Cooking is an art form. It requires intuition. It requires technique. In cooking you can add one ingredient and it can change the entire taste profile of the dish.
Baking is a science. It requires measurement. It requires precision. In baking you can add one ingredient and Cleveland is suddenly a smoking crater.
So, let's make some fudge with bacon in it!
The idea of combining bacon with maple flavoring is one as old as Canada. Combining bacon with chocolate is a relatively new development, however, though snack historians believe this particular marriage of meat and magic has been practiced in secret for centuries.
This secrecy was well-warranted. Filling creamy candy-store treats with dead animal muscle and fat is one of those things that seem like a good idea until you type it out. Even now I'm feeling a little queasy.
Luckily for taste buds everywhere the recent surge in popularity of the salty-meets-sweet dynamic has given rise to an explosion of snack experimentation. What started with salted peanuts and M&Ms (trail mix, for those living near M&M trees) soon escalated into chocolate-dipped potato chips (yum), salty-filled hard candies (not yum), and finally, Maple Bacon Fudge.
The recipe I will be utilizing is the end result of hours of painstaking research and then receiving a link in my email inbox from the internet instruction-sharing community Snapguide, where one Stephanie Partington shared her baking magic with the world.
The recipe required the following:
- One package milk chocolate chips
- One package peanut butter chips
- One can sweetened condensed milk
- Maple extract
- One package maple bacon
- A stick of butter
I also purchased, in concordance with ancient fudge-making tradition, two cartons of whole milk and a carton of lemonade, all three of which were placed in the hallway adjacent to my kitchen.
Here's how Stephanie's turned out:
Why so different? Well, for one, Stephanie is obviously a professional photographer, and one that doesn't leave fingerprints on her fudge. The lighting conditions in her kitchen must be phenomenal.
I attribute the slightly darker color and denser fudge to elevation and relative humidity, two factors known in baking circles as the perfect excuses for completely fucking things up. I can't say that my pan was too small, and that I didn't give the ingredients enough time to sufficiently melt and combine.
Yep, that damn humidity.
Like any good baker, I dirtied up my stove before filming the creation process. A sparkling clean stove is the sign of a fraud and a fake. Yeah, we'll stick with that.
You'll note that Yo Gabba Gabba is constantly playing in the background as I create. I was left home alone with the babies on Saturday while my wife-creature worked, so I distracted them with colorful pictures and noise so I could craft this magical concoction for you people. If they resent me later in life it's on you.
Anything with bacon in it wins. It may be an old, tired cliché, but if you shot me with bullets made of bacon I would die filled with flavor. People might eat my body, and I'd be okay with that.
Luckily my homemade maple bacon fudge tasted much better than my dead body.
A dense and chewy fudge, the richness of the milk chocolate is gently cut with peanut butter and a hint of maple, before the bacon wanders in and stabs the flavor in the face with pure awesome. Even after a night in the fridge, stacked on a plate and brought to the restaurant where my family celebrated Mother's Day, the bacon maintained a slight crunch, cutting the creaminess and offering a texture that, for the most part, was quite welcome.
Most of my family loved it. The mother of my children said she'd probably prefer it without bacon. I might have made a horrible mistake.
Would I make it again? Perhaps. First I must procure a larger pan. Then I have to make sure my mother, who left the restaurant with the heaping plate, doesn't suffer any ill effects from consuming vast quantities of chocolate, peanut butter, and bacon; each is perfectly healthy, but it pays to be cautious.
More likely I will simply proclaim that I will one day try again and then never get around to it. This is the way of the snackurai.
Maple Bacon Fudge [Snapguide]