There are few things I’ve made in my life which have generated quite as much interest in such a short time as these. It started out simple. My friend Catherine, co-founder of Luca & Bosco (omg, try their ice cream immediately), was having a bacon-themed holiday party. I was going to make a pork adobo with bacon, but then it was cold outside and I didn’t want to leave the house. I had coconut and sweetened condensed milk in the cupboard, so I knew I could make some macaroons from The Macaroon Bible (awesome book, btw). But none of his recipes had bacon, so I I had to improvise. The result was pretty freakin’ awesome. I even won a little prize at the party (aww, thanks). If you’re interested, and I know you are, here is a recipe to try out yourself.
Bacon-Bourbon Chocolate Macaroons
adapted from a recipe in The Macaroon Bible by Dan Cohen
Yield: Twenty-four 2-inch macaroons
4 tablespoons your favorite bourbon (I used Jim Beam — no need for fancy stuff)
About 1/3 pound thick-cut bacon (okay to add more)
One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 whole nutmeg (optional)
One 14-ounce bag sweetened shredded coconut
2 large egg whites
4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 cup dark chocolate chips (regular chocolate chips would be okay too, but you really don’t need to use premium chocolate)
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the center of the oven. Line a baking sheet or two with parchment.
2. In a small saucepan, simmer the bourbon until it’s reduced by about half to 2 tablespoons of liquid. Set aside. The recipe would probably work fine if you didn’t do this at all, or you could start with even more bourbon and concentrate further it for stronger flavor like I did. You just don’t want to add more than 2 tablespoons of liquid to the macaroon batter because it would be too wet.
3. Cook the bacon as you normally would until crispy. Drain on paper towels. When cool, crumble the bacon into bits. Set aside.
4. In an extra-large bowl, measure out 10 1⁄2 ounces by weight of the condensed milk. If you don’t have a scale, use approximately 8 ounces (1 cup) by liquid measure. Add the reduced bourbon and about 15 passes of the nutmeg over a nutmeg grater, if desired, and incorporate with a rubber spatula. Add the coconut and combine until thoroughly mixed. Stir in the bacon bits.
5. Add the egg whites and salt (I added less salt because I was worried about the saltiness of the bacon) to the bowl of a stand mixer (or small bowl if you’re using a hand beater) and whip on medium-high until very stiff peaks form, 2 1⁄2 to 3 minutes.
6. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the coconut mixture. After it’s combined, push the mixture into one big blob to make it easier for you to portion out the macaroons.
7. Dip 2 spoons into a small bowl of water, shake them off, form the mixture into balls approximately 1 1⁄2 inches in diameter, and place them on the baking sheet about 1 inch apart. (You can also form them by hand, but be sure to wet your fingers frequently.)
8. Place the sheet into the oven to bake for 20 to 25 minutes. After about 21 minutes, start checking for coloring. Look for an even, light golden color and for the undersides to be nicely tanned. These macaroons will darken a bit more quickly than normal, so keep a close eye on them starting at about 19 minutes.
9. Remove from the oven and let the sheet rest on a cooling rack, leaving the macaroons on the sheet until they’re cool enough for you to pull off (about 2 minutes depending on how sensitive your fingers are). Transfer the macaroons to the cooling rack to let cool completely.
10. Melt the chocolate in whatever way is easiest for you. I used the microwave oven. Transfer the melted chocolate to a small plastic baggie, snip off the corner of the baggie with scissors, and use the make-shift piping bag to pipe the melted chocolate on top of the macaroons in whatever design you see fit. You could also just dip the macaroons into a bowl of melted chocolate. Transfer the macaroons to the fridge if you want the chocolate to firm up quickly because they’re better that way. But otherwise these taste far better when eaten at room temperature, so don’t leave them in the fridge.
11. The macaroons will keep at room temperature for 3 to 5 days, for about 3 weeks in an airtight container in the fridge, and for a few months if stored in an airtight container in the freezer. Note that the bacon flavor is a bit better the day after, but they also get a little softer after sitting for a while.