I saw a post about Smoked Maple Bourbon by Knob Creek and I was inspired to bake it into some kind of concoction. Obviously bacon had to be invited to this party. Sadly, after searching multiple BevMo’s and another much seedier liquor store, I found no trace of this illusive bourbon. I honestly feel like it might be easier to get ahold of of some frankincense and myrrh than this gold in a bottle.
I settled on a cheap-o, friendly skies sized bottle of Maple Jim Beam. Which, I imagine, is just how a shot of maple syrup lit on fire would taste. So, I had the bourbon and the bacon and just needed to decide how to combine them for the holidays. Then it struck me: a bourbon bacon brittle recipe. The three kings of yum.
I began by candying the bacon with the maple bourbon and brown sugar. My creativity got a little out of hand when I tried to substitute maple syrup for the corn syrup (like I do in my pecan pie recipe). It seemed like a good idea at the time, until my brittle foamed up and turned into whatever this is. Weird.
I am still not entirely sure if it was the maple syrup or my timing that wasn’t quite right on this batch. I have a feeling it was a combined effort.
After ruining 6 strips of high priced and deliciously candied bacon, I started anew. I switched from the maple syrup to a classic corn syrup. This seemed to do the trick. Things actually turned into a brittle-like consistency this time. I tried another batch in which I didn’t candy the bacon, figuring it gets candied in the process of making the actual candy (translation: lazy). It really didn’t turn out as great. The bourbon laced brown sugar baked bacon really brought another level of texture and complexity to this brittle. I think it locked in the smokiness of the bacon while creating a crispy candied texture on the outside.
As it turns out, brittles are quite tricky. You must be very precise with the temperature and timing. Once that sugary mixture reaches its breaking point, you’ve got to move very quickly and deliberately. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a hot sticky mess. Actually, either way you’ll end up with a hot sticky mess.
In closing, this brittle recipe was tooth breaking and mouth watering success. Combining the triple threat of bourbon, bacon and brittle ended up being three of the wisest decisions I’ve made this holiday season.
FYI, I am still seeking guidance in discovering the whereabouts of the legendary Smoked Maple Bourbon from Knob Creek.
- thick cut smoky bacon - 6 strips
- maple bourbon (or regular bourbon) - 2-3 tablespoons
- brown sugar - 3 tablespoons
- granulated sugar - 1 cup
- light corn syrup - 1/2 cup
- water - 1/2 cup
- unsalted butter - 1 tablespoon
- maple bourbon (or regular bourbon) - 2 tablespoons
- pure vanilla extract - 1 teaspoon
- baking soda - 1 teaspoon
- chopped pecans - 1/2 cup
- coarse sea salt for sprinkling - 1 teaspoon
- Preheat oven to 400°.
- Lay bacon strips on a foil lined baking sheet. Gently brush the bacon strips with bourbon on both sides. Sprinkle bacon strips with brown sugar on both sides.
- Bake the bacon for about 12-16 minutes until it starts to caramelize and becomes crispy. Remove bacon from the baking sheets and allow to cool.
- Using kitchen shears, chop the bacon strips into bite sized pieces.
- Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and lightly toast them in the 400° oven for about 8 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. Roughly chop the pecans and set aside.
- Lightly grease a baking sheet or line with parchment paper or a silpat mat.
- At this point, be sure to have all of the remaining ingredients measured and ready to rock, you'll need to move fast once the syrup comes to the candy stage.
- I combined the bourbon and vanilla. And, I also combined the chopped pecans and bacon together. This helped me move faster later when I added everything to the hot sticky syrup.
- In a heavy medium-sized saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup and water over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves and the syrup comes to a boil. (This is where timing and temperature start to get tricky. Be sure to use a candy thermometer to keep track of the temperature.)
- Increase the heat to high and cook, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 290°-300°, it should be a deep golden brown. Immediately remove from heat.
- (*Brittle can be incredible temperamental, so bear in mind that you need to heat your syrup to 310°, Your stovetop, candy thermometer and the climate can all factor the process. You can drop a small amount of the mixture into very cold water to test, it should separate into hard and brittle threads when it is ready.)
- Quickly stir in the butter, bourbon and vanilla, baking soda, pecans and bacon bites. Be careful as the mixture will start to foam. The foam should quickly subside, at this point you will pour the hot mixture into the prepared baking sheet as quickly and as thin as possible. I used a wooden spoon to gently spread the mixture out because my pour wasn't too even. The mixture is a hot sticky mess at this point, but it's also a lot of fun to work with!
- Sprinkle with sea salt and cool the brittle for at least 15 minutes. Once it seems to have set and hardened, you can start breaking it into pieces. I used a vintage meat tenderizer to break it up and it worked great.
- Store in a container with a lid, I used mason jars. It should last at least 1 week in a sealed container.
- *Brittle is very temperamental so a candy thermometer is highly recommended for this recipe.