Sure, many folks go to an Alice B. Toklas place when creative brownie making is mentioned, but for a goody two-shoes like me (with a cop pal as my afternoon's company to boot!), there's much swoony satisfaction in a recipe that highlights some of my favorite legal vices. I'm hardly the first to alight at bacon brownies, but I decided to borrow a step from the bourbon balls I'm often rolling up 'round this time of year for holiday party purposes. A double-soak -- once pre and once mid-toasting of a half cup of pecans in bourbon, and a swap-in of the nut-infused bourbon for the traditional vanilla brings a slightly tipsy edge to a deeply fudgy brownie. A grind of fresh black pepper (inspired by a Chanterelle Staff Meals brownie recipe, which credited the technique to Maida Heatter) strums the palate to life; a subtle note of smoked salt lets the bolder bacon sing.
Had there not been half a foot of snow atop my grill cover, I'd have seen what came of an attempt to tobacco-smoke the pecans and chocolate, but for now, these are more than sufficiently wicked.
Recipe for Legal Vice Brownies is after the jump.
Legal Vice Brownies
1/2 lb bacon
8 oz butter
10 oz baking chocolate*
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
5 large eggs
Freshly-ground black pepper
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp smoked salt
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Cook the bacon until it is very crisp, drain off the grease and set aside. Pat the bacon dry with paper towels, crumble into tiny pieces, chopping in food processor if possible. Set aside.
Place the pecans in a bowl and just cover with bourbon. When roughly half of the bourbon has been absorbed, scoop out the pecans with a slotted spoon, arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake until nearly toasted. Reserve one teaspoon of the bourbon, pour the remainder over the pecans, and let them finish toasting. Remove them from the oven and set aside.
In a double boiler, over simmering water, combine the butter and chocolate. When the mixture is nearly melted, remove it from the heat and stir together until blended. Pour the mixture into a medium-sized bowl and let it cool to room temperature.
Once the chocolate mixture is cool, add the granulated sugar, brown sugar, several grinds of black pepper, smoked salt, eggs and reserved bourbon and whisk well to combine.
Add the cocoa powder and stir until thoroughly incorporated. Then stir in the flour 1/2 cup at a time, making sure it is thoroughly incorporated before adding the next portion. Stir in the bacon and pecans.
Use the reserved bacon grease to lightly coat an 8x8 baking pan, and pour in the batter. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the edge comes out dry, but inserted near the center, comes out lightly coated in batter. Let the brownies cool, and cut into squares to serve.
*I used a haphazard mix of 2 oz of a Dagobah organic unsweetened 100% cacao baking chocolate, 6 oz of Dagobah organic semisweetened 59% cacao baking chocolate, and 2 oz of Callebaut dark baking chocolate.
**Jim Beam in this case, but it's not set in stone.
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