chocolate caramel bacon cake

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With all this Paleo talk going on, I’ve been thinking about bacon. And reading about bacon (scroll down towards the end of the article for the more interesting part on saturated fat and cholesterol). Still not sure if it should appear in my diet much more than it does (rarely, in tiny portions tossed through pasta, wrapped around chicken breasts or a crispy slice with pancakes).. but figured it about time it appeared on the blog.

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This cake is definitely not attractive to the health conscious. And most will skim over this post out of fear it will tempt them too much. But boy is there a time and a place at some point in your life, for this cake. The combination of sweet caramel, salty bacon, rich, espresso-hinted chocolate cake and bittersweet chocolate frosting is divine. It draws all the senses together. It is moreish but at the same time decadently satisfying. A bacon lover’s birthday recently called for such indulgence. It was enjoyed on a cool fall evening with a group of Norman Wells friends, following a rather challenging couple of baseball matches (perhaps more challenging for us Kiwis more accustomed to a cricket bat).

All in all this is a very simple recipe. A basic chocolate cake, a can of condensed milk, a block of chocolate for a simple buttercream frosting and a pack of bacon. That’s it. The condensed milk is boiled in a large pot of water (still in its can) until it turns into a rich, dark caramel. The bacon is candied and crispened. The cake is stacked with the caramel and bacon layered between and the whole thing is slathered in a bittersweet chocolate frosting.

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Chocolate Caramel Bacon Cake
Recipe from Korena in the Kitchen
I doubled the recipe for the cake as I was wanted a quadruple layer 20cm cake rather than the 15cm cakes that the original recipe made. Obviously this meant I didn’t have quite as much caramel as desired, and at $7 a can here I decided skimping was fine. This doubled cake easily served 20 (a small slither goes a long way with such decadence) so the following recipe will serve approximately 10.

Rich Dark “Ultimate” Chocolate Cake

85g bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/3 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
3/4 cup hot coffee

3/4 cup white flour (pref. high grade, bread flour)
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda

2 eggs
6 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Place the chocolate and cocoa in a large bowl. Pour over the hot coffee, cover and let sit for about 5 minutes until chocolate has melted. Whisk until smooth, then let cool to room temperature. In a smaller bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt and soda. Set aside. When the chocolate mixture has cooled, add to it the eggs, oil, vinegar and vanilla and whisk until smooth. Add the flour mixture and whisk again until smooth.

Divide the batter between two 6″ round cake pans than have been greased and the bottom lined with parchment paper. Wrap each pan with a strip of damp towel (a strange concept but really works to help the cakes bake with a flat top) and bake for 30 – 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out fairly clean – only a few moist crumbs sticking to it. Invert the cakes onto a cooling rack, peel off the parchment paper, and allow to cool completely.

Dulce De Leche

1 can sweetened condensed milk

Peel the label off the can and place it in a pot, covered with water so that it is completely submerged. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat, then cover, reduce to low, and simmer for 3 hours.

Keep an eye on it and top up the water as needed to make sure that the can stays completely covered the entire time. Don’t let this scare you but, there is danger of the can exploding if no longer submerged. Once the 3 hours are up, remove the pot from the heat and let the can cool completely in the water – overnight. Once cool, scoop the caramelized contents of the can into a bowl, sprinkle it with a good pinch of flaky sea salt, and stir until smooth. If necessary, stir in a few drops of milk to make it easily spreadable.

Candied Bacon

6 slices thick-cut smoked bacon
6 Tbsp brown sugar

Place the bacon on a wire rack on a foil-lined baking sheet and coat one side with the brown sugar. Bake at 350˚F for about 15 minutes, then flip, coat the other side with sugar and bake for another 15 – 20 minutes, until deeply caramelized. Let cool on the rack – the bacon will get crispy as it cools. Chop into small cubes.

Chocolate Frosting

250g of dark chocolate
3 tbsp Dutch processed cocoa powder
3 tbsp hot water
1/2 cup butter, soft
1/4 cup icing sugar

Melt  the chocolate and set aside to cool. Mix together the cocoa and water. Set aside to cool. Place butter and icing sugar In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until very light and fluffy. Beat in the cooled melted chocolate, then the cocoa powder mixture then set aside for 30 minutes at room temperature before frosting the cake.

Assemble the Cake

Cut each cake horizontally into 2 layers. Place one layer on a cake base and spread it with about 3 tbsp of Dulce de Leche. Sprinkle it with a little pinch of sea salt, then with 1/4 of the chopped bacon pieces. Repeat with the second and third cake layers and top with the fourth, pressing down firmly to stick them together. Frost with the chocolate frosting and decorate the top with the remaining Dulce de Leche and diced bacon.

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