Bacon candy is sweet, salty, spicy and crispy. When I first heard of it, I wondered if it was an appetizer or a dessert. That just shows how limited my thinking was. It can also be crumpled in a salad, placed on a hamburger, or used to garnish a Bloody Mary.
Recently I took Leah to lunch at a new restaurant, the Lazy Dog, for her 12th birthday. After placing our orders, we saw waiters delivering sticks of bacon in glasses to tables all around us. The menu identified this as bacon candy with these ingredients: bacon, brown sugar, crushed red pepper chili flakes, and black pepper. Next time we saw our waiter, we ordered some for dessert. It was delicious.
There were five pieces of bacon in each order. Leah and I had one and a half each, and saved the other two for my husband, Jim, and her dad, Joe. Our waiter provided us with two doggy bags — more like doggy envelopes — especially for this purpose. When we finished eating, we made a quick stop in the bathroom. As we were washing our hands, I said, “Oh no, Leah, we forgot the bacon candy.” Her eyes lit up and she said, “We’re on a bacon rescue mission!” She moved quickly through the crowded restaurant to find our two doggy envelopes still waiting for us.
For the next several months, I was on a mission to duplicate that recipe. My mouth watered as I read recipes with differing recommendations for thick or center cut bacon, light or dark brown sugar, oven temperatures ranging from 350 to 400, and various ingredients. Family and friends taste tested several batches before I came up with the following recipe.
No one had a strong preference for thin versus thick bacon. Thick takes a bit longer to cook. Since just about every recipe I found recommended light brown sugar, I used that until I ran out. Dark brown sugar will do in a pinch.
I took three variations of bacon candy to a Super Bowl party:
- basic recipe with brown sugar and spices
- basic plus maple syrup brushed on
- basic plus molasses brushed on
All three were a hit. Some people preferred the crispier basic recipe; others liked the flavor of either the maple syrup or molasses.
Active time: 10 minutes Total time: 35 minutes
One-butt kitchen needs:
- Rimmed baking sheet with rack (about 12.5 x 10 inches)
- Aluminum foil
- Silicon basting brush (or a pastry brush)
- Pizza stone
- Oven thermometer
- 1/2 lb (or more) bacon
- 1/2 cup light brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1/4 cup maple syrup or molasses (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place pizza stone in oven for even cooking. Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, then place rack in pan.
Cut bacon in half. Mix together brown sugar and spices. Spread brown sugar mixture out on a plate. Press both sides of the bacon into the brown sugar. Rub bacon so that there is an even layer of sugar on both sides. Place the sugared bacon on the rack. The bacon slices can touch, but not overlap.
If you want to try maple syrup or molasses, pour some into a small bowl (about 1/4 cup). Brush a light coat onto the top of the bacon.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until brown and crispy, but not burned. Thick cut may take longer. Let cool a few minutes before eating. It should be warm, not hot (that molten sugar will hurt!). It’s even good at room temperature.