So today is actually another episode in our saga of “When Amanda messes stuff up”.
You see, the picture above may look wonderfully gooey and delicious… and it was both gooey and delicious.
It was just a little… too… gooey…
There are certain expectations for bark. It is eaten with the hands for one thing. With this comes the expectation that it’s solid enough as an entity to hold itself together as you pick it up with your hands.
Some mess is expected as it is eaten with the hands.
However, “oh my god, it’s everywhere..” is not really the mess level you’re going for.
I made a lot of mistakes along the way while making this recipe. The first time I made the caramel, I forgot to turn the heat to high once the sugar all dissolved into the water.
This caused all the water to melt away without the sugar reaching any sort of appropriately high temperature, turning my “caramel-to-be” into rock sugar candy. Delicious in texture and flavour, but not as a gooey layer in my bark.
During my second attempt at caramel, I got distracted crumbling bacon, and when my candy thermometer started beeping at me that it was at appropriate caramelizing temperatures, it caught me so off guard that I went scrambling for heavy cream and butter instead of taking the sugar off the heat, and it burned in that time.
You would think I would be super careful with the caramel after the first mishap, but that would be the response of a smart person.
The third caramel turned out perfectly.
Or so I thought.
I don’t know if it was me, the recipe, or some other factor, but the caramel, while thick and delicious and awesome, did not come out the way I needed it to.
First off, I don’t know if there was a step missing between the marshmallow and caramel layer, but it says to spread out the marshmallow layer, then pour the caramel over it. No mention of letting the marshmallow set in the freezer… but you may want to do that anyway. When I poured the caramel over the marshmallow layer, it just immediately marbled into and sunk under the marshmallow.
I thought it was still salvageable at this point though. As it set in the freezer, the caramel fully settled to being under the marshmallow and I figured swapping those layer wouldn’t be a big deal. And it wasn’t. That wasn’t the problem.
When I cut into bark, everything seemed… okayish. I mean, the caramel clearly wanted to escape in every direction, but it only seemed to be oozing a little in a somewhat deliciously attractive way. That’s when I took the pictures for the blog. Then I made little wax paper squares for each piece to sit on to help wrangle the caramel and put the pieces away in a container and put it in the fridge. Because the cold would help stem the flow of caramel, right?
By lunch time, the container of bark had evolved into a caramel soup with chocolate/marshmallow/bacon chunks floating in it.
I was so upset after spending so much time on the three caramel debacle and I just threw the whole lot of them out. Looking back, it was somewhat of an aggressive reaction as all the pieces did taste delicious and tasted even better together, but I was just so frustrated that I had to react somewhat unreasonably.
So for future candy makers? This bark is actually completely delicious, all the flavours compliment each other and this is a wonderful and creative way to combine bacon with sweets. Just… make sure your caramel is stiff enough.
And if you successfully avoid caramel bark soup, let me know?
Whiskey Marshmallow, Caramel and Bacon Bark
Adapted from Bakers Royale via Endless Simmer
- 16 oz of semi-sweet chocolate
- 4 cups of mini marshmallows
- 1/4 cup whiskey (I used bourbon whiskey)
- 1 cup caramel (Recipe below)
- 1 cup bacon crumble (Recipe below)
- Line an 8×8 inch pan with wax paper with a 1-inch overhang on each side.
- Place chocolate in a bain marie or in a heat-proof bowl above simmering water. Heat on low until chocolate is melted. Pour half of melted chocolate into the prepared pan. Using an offset spatula, spread chocolate until smooth. Transfer pan to freezer to chill for about 5 minutes or until melted chocolate becomes more solid.
- Place marshmallows in a large saucepan and heat until marshmallows starts to just melt and forms web-like strands when stirred (see picture above). Remove from heat and add in whiskey; stir to combine.
- Spread marshmallow mixture over solid chocolate layer. (To easily spread the marshmallow to an even layer, spray offset spatula with non-stick spray.) (At this step I would pop the pan back into the freezer again for 5 minutes to let the marshmallow set a little as in my experience, the caramel just mixed into the marshmallow when I tried pouring it over.)
- Pour caramel on top of marshmallow layer. Using an offset spatula, spread caramel until smooth. Transfer pan to freezer to chill for about 5 minutes or until caramel becomes slightly hardened.
- Pour remaining half of chocolate over caramel layer. Using an offset spatula, spread chocolate until smooth. Sprinkle and gently press bacon crumble into chocolate.
- Return fully assembled bark to refrigerator to chill for 20 minutes or until bark becomes solid. Bring bark to almost room temperature before cutting, otherwise chocolate will shatter.
- 16 oz bacon
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 4 tablespoon water
- 1 egg white
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
- Cook bacon and set aside to cool completely. (I prefer cooking bacon in a 400 degrees F oven on a foil lined cookie sheet for 10-15 minutes. Easy clean up!) Once cooled, coarsely crumble bacon with hand; set aside and heat oven to 300 degrees F.
- Place sugar and water in a pot and heat until sugar is dissolved. Toss crumbled bacon in sugar syrup to coat. Pass coated bacon through a strainer to drain excess sugar syrup.
- Add egg white to a bowl and beat until fluffy and foamy. Add in black pepper and cayenne. Whisk to combine. Add in crumbled bacon and toss to coat.
- Spread coated, crumbled bacon on a parchment lined bakesheet and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool, then crumble bacon one last time.
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 tablespoons water
- 4 tablespoon butter
- 7 tablespoon heavy cream (I would try reducing this to 4 or 5 tablespoons next time in attempt to make the caramel stiffer)
- Add sugar and water into a saucepan over medium low heat. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Use a wet brush to remove any crystals that form on the side.
- Once sugar has dissolved increase heat to high. Now and then, using the handle, give the pot a swirl to keep the mixture moving. Do not stir the mixture directly. The mixture will start to bubble after a minute.
- As the mixture darkens to a medium amber color, approximately 5-7 minutes, add the butter and heavy cream to saucepan. The mixture will bubble wildly. Whisk to combine (bubbles will subside upon cooling). Set aside to cool completely.