Bacon chocolate crunch bar

It was 2009 when I first read about this amazing new dessert from a restaurant in LA called ‘Animal.’ It combined two of the best foods on earth – chocolate and bacon, and quickly became an Internet sensation.

Fast forward 8 years and the creators of this magical dessert are heading to Auckland’s Restaurant Month to take over the kitchen at Soul Bar & Bistro – and this marvelous concoction is on the menu! Alas, the tickets are $200 which makes for an expensive night out. So that left me with just option – I must make the infamous bacon chocolate crunch bar myself! A lot of Googling proved the recipe is a closely guarded secret and it had ingredients completely foreign to me – hello feuilletine and gianduja.  The chefs released a basic version in 2009 so that became my starting point.

This recipe contains 3 separate elements which I’ve made from scratch.

Let’s start with the feuilletine – these are thin crispy, caramelly flakes which add crunch and texture. I found them to be a total bitch to make.

Gianduja – basically a very decadent Nutella. It’s a chocolate and hazelnut paste/ganache which tastes totally divine. It’s also quite expensive to make thanks to the high cost of hazelnuts.

Praline paste – nuts which have been covered in caramel, and then whizzed into a paste. Yummy.

You also need peanut butter and bacon – I recommend using the best you can afford. You don’t want to go to the trouble of making all of the elements and then use sub-standard ingredients.

Let’s get started.

*aside from the ingredients listed for each element, you will also need 150g peanut butter, and 200g bacon.

For the feuilletine

Ingredients

2¼ oz butter, softened
2 oz brown sugar
½ tablespoon baking soda
3 oz molasses
½ egg (see notes)
6½ oz flour
1 oz milk

Method

Preheat your oven to 180ºC and set aside 2 baking sheets lined with silicone mats (see notes.)
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar and baking soda until light and fluffy.
Add the molasses and beat on medium for a minute, then add the egg.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix at low speed. Add the flour all at once then drizzle in the milk.
Mix only until everything is incorporated.
Scoop around 3 oz of batter onto each baking tray. Using an offset spatula, spread it as thin as you can. It should be almost translucent.

Bake for 8 minutes, until it’s firm to the touch. It needs to cool completely before you crumble it.
Keep going until you use up all of the batter.

Notes

  • Recipe via BraveTart.
  • To get a perfect half egg, crack it into a small bowl set on scales tared to zero. Remember the weight, beat the egg with a fork then weigh out half of it.
  • I highly recommend using silicon sheets. It is near on impossible on baking paper. The paper bunches up and apparently won’t release cleanly. This was the worst part of the whole recipe. Damn you feuilletine! I had 3 silicon cake tin liners which I managed to make work. It was a slow process.
  • This element can be made well in advance. Store in an airtight tin until needed.
  • The batter will keep, covered in the fridge, for up to 2 days.
  • Recipe makes about 7 cups of feuilletine. Sprinkle the leftovers on icecream.
For the praline paste

Ingredients

4 oz sugar
1 oz water
2 oz blanched almonds
2 oz hazelnuts, skin removed

Method

Prepare a baking tray with a sheet of baking paper that has been lightly greased. Spread the nuts on top.
Add the water and sugar to a small saucepan and heat over high heat. Swirl it occasionally until the mixture turns to caramel.
Pour the caramel over the nuts and leave to cool completely. You’ve made praline!

Break the praline into pieces and whiz them in a food processor until a paste forms (see notes.)

Notes

  • Recipe via Joe Pastry.
  • Depending on the power of your food processor, it could take anywhere between 1-8 ish minutes for the paste to form.
  • You can add a tablespoon of nut oil or a neutral oil to help things along. I needed 3 teaspoons of grapeseed oil.
For the gianduja

Ingredients

210g hazelnuts
2 tablespoons sugar
340g semi sweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
85g butter, cut into 1″ pieces, at room temperature
¾ c cream
¼ teaspoon salt

Method

Preheat your oven to 180ºC. Spread the hazelnuts into an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast, shaking the sheet once, for 15 minutes, until the nuts are a deep brown. Allow to cool completely.
If the hazelnuts have skins, rub them in a tea towel to remove.
Grind the hazelnuts and skins in a food processor until a smooth paste forms, about 1-3 minutes.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Place the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl and set it over a pot of simmering water. Melt the chocolate, stirring often.
Take the bowl off the water and whisk in the butter, piece by piece, until it’s completely incorporated.
Whisk in the cream and salt, then hazelnut paste.

Notes

  • Recipe via Epicurious

Assembly

Prepare a loaf tin by lining it with baking paper. Bring the gianduja to room temperature.
Pour half the gianduja onto the base and smooth the top. Sprinkle 1 cup of feuilletine on top and chill for 15 minutes.
Next, combine the peanut butter and praline paste and pour it on the gianduja. Sprinkle 1 cup of feuilletine on top and chill for another 15 minutes.
Pour the remaining gianduja on top, smooth and chill for at least 2 hours.
Remove it from the fridge at least 30 minutes before serving.
Finely chop the bacon and fry it until the fat has rendered and it is very crisp. Drain it on a paper towel.
Cut loaf into slices and top each slice with bacon.

Notes

  • This is very rich, you only need a small slice.
  • You can make each element in advance and assemble the whole dessert when you’re ready.
  • Unless you have a super high powered blender, your praline paste and gianduja isn’t going to be super smooth, but that’s ok, a little bit of texture is good.

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