Back in the early days of this blog, I mentioned that I made a bacon-peanut brittle ice cream, how awesome it was, and that one day, I would get around to writing about it. This is not that day.
No- this is the story of bacon-pecan brittle.
I was at my parents' house a few weeks ago to see my uncle, who was visiting. He shares the family interest in (some might say addiction to) eating, and the subject of my ice cream came up. I offered to make any flavor he wanted, and listed some I've made. His eyes lit up when I mentioned Bacon Peanut Brittle, but my brother told me my niece is allergic to peanuts. As adorable as my niece is, I couldn't let her allergy stand in the way of ice cream. And so, Bacon-Pecan Brittle Ice Cream was born.
This isn't a complicated ice cream. Making the brittle is the most time-intensive step.
1. Cook the bacon. (The recipe calls for only two strips, but who are we kidding- use the whole pack). Remember this is going into ice cream, not on an egg sandwich, so it should be pretty crispy.
2. Assemble the rest of your ingredients. You really want to get everything together before you start, since once the sugar is melted, things start going pretty fast.
Many years ago, my friend Lynn sent me her recipe for a savory bread pudding. It has such heart-healthy ingredients as cheddar cheese, (turkey) sausage, cream, eggs, olive oil and butter. Lynn closes the instructions with step #8: "eat! but not if you have like cholesterol and/or heart problems." This is how I felt while making the brittle.
3. Combine the sugar, corn syrup and butter in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil, stirring often, until it turns golden brown (10-15 minutes).
4. When it's ready, remove the pot from the heat, and immediately stir in the vanilla, salt, peanuts and bacon (ie, everything except the baking soda). It'll thicken up, but keep mixing, until it's evenly combined.
5. Sprinkle with the baking soda, and stir to combine. The recipe says it'll foam up, but this didn't happen to me.
6. Spread the whole thing out on a baking sheet (I used one sheet, and it came out pretty thick; consider using two, if you want thinner brittle). Let it cool completely, before breaking it up into chunks.
This recipe makes quite a bit- so much I didn't need to stand guard over it, to prevent family members from stealing pieces over the course of the afternoon. Store the brittle in an air tight container for up to two weeks. (Don't refrigerate it.)
This is how much I had left over. Needless to say, the family scavengers finished it by early the next morning.
At this point, you're good to go. You can make a standard vanilla ice cream base, and mix this in when the ice cream is just about done churning. Or you could make your own little tribute to The King, and make it into some kind of peanut butter, banana and bacon-brittle sandwich. Or just keep eating the brittle from the container a little (or a lot) at a time. I won't judge you.
* The recipe comes from Humphrey Slocumbe's flavor 'Elvis: The Fat Years', which is a banana and brown sugar ice cream, with the bacon-peanut brittle mixed in. My in-laws got me their book as a present, but you can get the original recipe from this article
I was at my friends Mike and Emi's house, when someone said 'Flying home last week, I had the biscoff cookies. Those are the best.' Other people agreed. To all of this, I smartly replied 'Huh?'
The exchange caught me by surprise. And no, not because I didn't know what they were talking about. That isn't unusual. But in this context? Cookies? The best
cookies? And I hadn't even heard of them!?
See, I really have only two interests: food and exercise. Because I'm wildly over-educated, I can speak on other topics, like the major obstacles to the successful completion of the Doha trade round
. But at a conservative estimate, I spend upwards of 75% of my free time thinking about food and exercise. And yet here I was, caught out entirely over these allegedly great cookies. My ignorance could not be allowed to continue.*
And so a research project was born. Biscoff: What is it, Why does Delta serve it, Where can I get some, and How does it taste in ice cream?What is it?
Biscoff rose to fame as a cookie. A speculoos cookie, to be specific. Speculoos are, according to Wikipedia, a kind of shortcrust biscuit, and ... well, if you care that much, go read the Wiki entry
But more recently**, Biscoff has been available as a spread. A cookie
spread. (Let's all just pause for a moment, to recognize how great that idea is... ready? Okay- let's keep going). Flavor-wise, biscoff is to cookies, what nutella is to chocolate and hazelnut. When I tried it for the first time, it was as if someone had taken a box of the fancy Pepperidge Farms cookies I only got at my grandmother's house, ground them up, and made a spreadable paste out of them. All of which is to say.. it's pretty awesome.
This is what you're looking for.
Need more evidence on how awesome it is? I found this Salon article
, with a quote from Ann Cashion, of Cashion's Eat Place.
It’s a texture, a mouthfeel thing. They are crisp to the bite, but then they just crumble into tender sand as you chew. Remarkable, really. I have only one source for them: a store near my beach house. So when I go to close the house at the end of the summer, I stock up on enough Biscoff to last me through until April! But they never do last because, well, that’s the nature of addiction, right?
Why does Delta serve it?
I dunno. Not even Wikipedia had a good answer for this one. In fact, Wiki doesn't even have an entry on Biscoff the cookie. I had to make do with this entry from WikiKitchen
, Wikipedia's red-headed step-child. But Delta and Biscoff clearly enjoy a pretty deep partnership. You can even earn Delta Sky Miles by shopping at biscoff.com. Seriously
. Where can I get some?
For years, the easiest way to get biscoff cookies was to fly Delta. I'm told that on many/most/all(?) of their flights, they offer Biscoff cookies as a snack. (The second easiest was to order them from Amazon). But no longer- now, you can find Biscoff both as a spread and as a cookie at your friendly neighborhood grocery store.*** Which leads us to the research question most dear to my heart...How does it taste in ice cream?
Great question- glad you asked. Kirby was kind enough to bring over a jar, with the suggestion that I make it into ice cream.
Well.. the remains of a jar.
Given it's similarity to nutella, I followed the recipe I use to make nutella ice cream
. It uses a basic custard, and has you pour the hot custard into a bowl with half a cup of nutella/biscoff spread in the bottom (with a little vanilla extract).
When I first poured in the custard, I was worried that the biscoff was too thick to melt.
But no worries- it smoothed out great after a minute or two of stirring.
After a chill in an ice bath and overnight in the fridge, the ice cream churned up great. The spread is pretty thick (thicker than nutella), and so the ice cream scooped out dense, with a strong cookie flavor. In a word- awesome.
* In my defense, I've never been a big store-bought dessert guy. For this, I blame my mom, who is a great baker. Her desserts have spoiled me for anything I can get at most bakeries.
** My friend Brad tells me that Biscoff, the spread, has been available in Europe for some time.
*** I haven't been able to verify the cookies. The Giant (a grocery store chain) by my apartment recently began stocking biscoff spread, next to the Nutella, but I've yet to see the cookies in the store. My friend Kirby is the only one who has spotted the cookie in the wild, but for all I know, he was in the depths of a sugar binge at the time.