|This...is... BACON! Spartans need not apply - Photo by Wasabi Prime|
I know everyone's so over "the bacon thing," but I can't help but dabble in the Dark Arts of Baconology, simply because I dig on swine. I got to thinking, bacon ice cream on its own would be pretty repulsive, all greasy, meaty and cold. That's not an after dinner treat, that's something you let sit to congeal in a glass jar before throwing it out, lest it choke up the drains. But what about treating bacon like salt, a secondary savory element to just help coax out other flavors? My issue with most baconized weapons of edible destruction is that they tend to be overpowering in the smoky or unsettling meaty-ness. Save it for my BLT, suckas. I decided to make a maple bacon ice cream. I say "maple bacon" and not "bacon maple" because I wanted the maple sweetness to come first, and only have the bacon be a slight textural crunch, with a hint of savory smokiness. Maple is a familiar companion to bacon, since they're such good pals at breakfast, so I thought the familiarity would not breed contempt with unsuspecting tasters.
This idea came about from an earlier ice cream making event, where I made a brandy butter spiced pecan ice cream. Why so fussy, Wasabi? Just say it's butter pecan like everyone else. Well, I had a little jar of brandy butter that was so luscious, but on its last scraps, so I knew this would be the best way to give it a Valhalla-like sendoff by incorporating it into an ice cream. I was concerned the brandy flavor and just the sheer butteryness of it would be overpowering, so tossing the pecans in a bit of cayenne before roasting them lightly helped cut that richness with a bit o' heat.
|Indy attempts her best "Sad Pup Face" for ice cream. It no worky - Photos by Wasabi Prime|
So, big duh, the buttery spicy pecan ice cream was freakin' delicious, my love handles grew three sizes too big, and that combination of flavor and taste sensation was what begat the maple bacon ice cream. You're asking, what's with the fruit pie? Two things -- one, I was tasked with bringing a dessert to a small weekend dinner gathering and I thought just the bacon ice cream would gross people out to the max, so needed the pairing with a pastry to help cushion the blow, and two, maple bacon ice cream on its own just looks kind of bland for photos. Only a food blogger would bake a whole pie (and mini fruit tart from the scraps) as a garnish for pale ice cream. Le weird, what can I say?
|Don't give me that picky baby face - try it, I think you'll like it! - Photos by Wasabi Prime|
The maple bacon ice cream over a warm serving of nectarine pie is quite nice, I gotta say. The late harvest nectarines are super sweet, with a nice bitterness from the skin. The flaky pie crust helps as a buffer between baked fruit sweetness and the rich ice cream. Consider it training wheels to get people used to the idea of meat ice cream, as you don't immediately get a bacon-y flavor, just small savory doses of it when you get a little crunch of it, plus that round sweetness of maple helps keep everything in check. This was the thought behind pairing pie with such an odd frozen treat. Consider it pastry subterfuge; the spoonful of sugar helping to get the bacon bits down.
Maple Bacon Thunderdome Ice Cream
4 slices of reduced sodium, non-peppered bacon, chopped small
3 eggs at room temperature
3 cups half and half
1/4 cup pure maple syrup (the real stuff, not that fake-o corn syrup stuff)
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons of reserved bacon fat
Heat a pan to medium/low heat and begin to render the chopped bacon until fully browned and crisped. Reserve a couple of tablespoons of the fat and set aside the bacon bits in a separate bowl.
In a separate saucepan, combine the half and half, sugar and maple syrup and bring to a low simmer. Stir constantly to incorporate the ingredients. Check the temperature of the liquid to make sure it's about 170 or 180 degrees and then temper (add a little of the heated liquid in a bowl with the eggs and mix to raise their temperature) the eggs before incorporating them with a whisk to make sure they don't scramble in the liquid. Go ahead and shut off the heat and whisk in the vanilla extract and reserved bacon fat. Strain the custard through a sieve and chill for a few hours.
As you're churning the custard in your ice cream maker, add the bacon bits towards the end of the churning cycle, when it's a soft-serve texture. This will make sure they don't get too broken up and retain their crunch.
You of course don't need to bake a pie to go with this, but it's not a bad thing to serve with a fruit dessert. I think it would actually go well with an apple pie or pear tart. Maple bacon ice cream isn't as scary as you'd think, so don't squinch your face up like a five year old and widen your taste horizons to the Thunderdome of Desserts.
|An overzealous garnish and buttery pecan heaven - Photos by Wasabi Prime|