Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Geez, what happened to the lovely warm weather we were having in NY?! I spent the last three days in nice light spring clothing only to wake up today to a cold, gray, and dreary kind of day. It made me feel kind of sad, to say the least. However, colder temperatures mean that you have an excuse to turn your ovens on and bake up something fiercely delicious. Like brownies! But first, make sure to chop up some bacon, fry it up, and throw it into the brownie batter before baking. Brownies + Bacon. Sounds kind of crazy, but trust me, this combination is anything but crazy. It's the total opposite; really, I promise.
One of my cousins left me a wall post on my Facebook a couple weeks ago saying that he had come across this recipe, and even though he thought it "sounded a little weird," that I should try it out. I put it on my list of things to do (which is still growing longer and longer by the second...at least that's how it feels anyway). As soon as I saw the wall post he left me, I knew I had to try the recipe out, for at least three reasons:
1. Brownies are awesome.
2. Bacon is awesome.
3. Nigella Lawson is awesome (I really just love her, she has this amazing way of writing about food that I just find incredible).
These brownies were obviously gonna get baked up sooner or later. That list of three reasons was simply too compelling to ignore.
To be honest, I had my reservations about these brownies initially. I mean, this definitely wasn't my first exposure to the whole "let's-put-bacon-in-everything" trend, but it was definitely my first time trying it out for myself! I knew it would taste good, because salty and sweet go really well together (salted caramel, sprinkling coarse sea salt over chocolate chip cookies, for instance, OR, if you really want to be crazy, try sprinkling in a tiny amount of salt into your Coke the next time you drink a glass. It makes a huge difference!), but I couldn't imagine how bacon would taste inside a brownie. Let me tell you, it's a fabulous combination! The thing that makes the bacon work so well with the brownies is that they get flavored as they cook with the addition of syrup. The original recipe calls for golden syrup, which is apparently another kind of sugar syrup that's really popular in the UK. I obviously didn't have golden syrup, and wasn't about to abandon this recipe simply because I didn't have a mere two teaspoons of it, so I went ahead and improvised with agave nectar (it sounds weird, I know), but I think it worked great! I would imagine that honey, or even maple syrup, would work as well.
Aside from being delicious, these brownies are super simple to make, all you need is one pot and a wooden spoon! Ok ok, so I guess you need a skillet of some sort to fry up the bacon bits in, but hey, what's one extra pan to wash when the only other equipment you're using is a pot!? No biggie. I love super simple recipes like this that take almost no time at all to prepare and leave you with an incredible finished product. Here's a quick note though. I have always baked brownies in my trusty 8-inch square baking pan, and it has just become the standard brownie pan in my kitchen, so I was a bit surprised when the recipe called for a 10-inch baking pan. I didn't even know if I owned a 10-inch baking pan, and it took some serious rummaging around my kitchen cabinets until I finally found it. I proceeded to make the brownie batter as per the recipe instructions, took the obligatory brownie batter taste test, thought it was delicious, and went to pour the batter into the 10-inch pan...and then I must have thought I was super smart or something because I decided the original recipe was wrong.
"There is no way this is enough brownie batter to fill up a 10-inch pan," I thought.
It really didn't look like I had gotten that much batter, so I went ahead and poured it into my 8-inch pan and baked the brownies. That was a big mistake. I turned my oven light on about 3/4 of the way through the baking time to check on the brownies, only to see that they had, in fact, already risen to the very top of the baking pan. I let them finish baking, and after cooling and slicing, considered them a flop. They tasted fine, but the texture seemed very off, and they were also HUGE brownies, since they were so thick. I re-made them in the 10-inch pan (like I should have done the first time), and they came out perfectly. The lesson here is to follow the recipe instructions!
These brownies are in the middle of the fudgey/cakey spectrum, aren't too sweet, have a deep chocolate flavor, and every now and then, you'll come across a slightly salty piece of bacon; when that happens, it's a very delicious experience, to say the least. Try them out!
recipe from Nigella Lawson
125 g bacon, chopped into small pieces
2 teaspoons honey/agave/maple syrup (or golden syrup, if you have it)
150 g unsalted butter
250 g light brown sugar
75 g cocoa powder
150 g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 large eggs, beaten
150 g chocolate chips
Position a rack in the middle of your oven, and preheat to 375 degrees F. Grease a 10-inch square baking pan, and line with wax paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang.
Heat a heavy frying pan over medium heat, and add the bacon bits, cooking until they begin to crisp. Add the two teaspoons of honey, agave, or maple syrup (whichever you prefer), stir to mix, and then remove from the heat and transfer the sticky bacon bits to a separate plate.
In a medium saucepan set over medium heat, melt the butter. Once it has melted, stir in the brown sugar. Remove from the heat. Stir in the cocoa powder, flour and baking soda. Add the beaten eggs, and stir again to mix everything together (make sure the batter has cooled slightly before adding the eggs; you don't want them to scramble!).
Stir in the sticky bacon bits and chocolate chips, making sure they're evenly distributed in the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan, and spread into an even layer.
Bake the brownies in the oven for about 20-25 minutes; they should still be a little gooey in the center. Transfer the baking pan to a wire rack and allow to cool slightly before removing the brownies from the pan to cool on the wire rack completely. Once the brownies have cooled, cut into 16 squares.
Makes 16 brownies.