if you clicked on that link i teased at the bottom of the last post, you already know what's coming:
lilcee is one of my biggest enablers, and i love her for it. she'd sent me that link, and still on a bacon high from thursday's extravaganza, i salivated at the photos. between her and tater, i get so many great ideas and suggestions - although i typically bookmark them and then it's ages before i finally get around to giving 'em a shot.
not this time. oh, no.
i'd finished the invitation order i was working on for my friend r, and because everything is better with food, we decided to meet up for breakfast on saturday so that i could make my delivery. we extended an invitation to some of the SFAMily to join us, but being that it was completely last-minute, most were unavailable. lucky for us, though, lilcee was free and decided to brave a restaurant outing with sweet baby cee. yay! so i decided that it was the perfect time to give those bacon caramels a whirl, and bring some for them to try.
the first step was chopping a few strips of bacon into bits and cooking them to a crisp. the original recipe used some gourmet-sounding fancy-schmancy stuff, but i stuck to good ol' farmer john.
as i perused the recipe, i remembered that my candy thermometer was nowhere to be found - not thinking i'd need it anytime soon, i'd packed it away and it was languishing in our storage space in a box, most likely buried in a faraway corner. oy. and while i had a meat thermometer that i thought would work, it needed to be elevated somewhat so as not to touch the bottom of the pan (the reading isn't exactly accurate that way).
but i'm a clever girl. i busted out my macgyver skillz and rigged up a contraption that was so ridiculous, but worked wonderfully. ingenious, yes? hey, it was either this or stand over the pan and hold the thing so that it hovered above the pan's bottom for the duration of the cooking process. blech to that.
i'd been saving this, a little souvenir my mom brought back from a trip to the east coast i-don't-even-remember-how-long-ago, for just the right occasion. this most definitely qualified:
i carefully measured and poured and stirred all the ingredients together in my saucepan and turned on the heat.
while i slaved over that hot ass stove, the bean was happily babbling to herself as she spread herself out under a dining chair, on the cool linoleum.
my happy little mixture bubbled away nicely, and i watched the needle on the thermometer make its way from one end to the other. and then i realized i was kinda fucked, because it only went to 200 degrees - and i needed it to eventually reach 245. crap.
i have a digital meat thermometer, but it'd been on the fritz lately. i'd replaced the batteries, tested it several times, and eventually gave up on it and just used it as a timer. but i was desperate, so i swapped out my equipment and hoped for the best. and i was pleased to see that it seemed to work out just fine. i finished the cooking process, dropped a spoonful of the candy into a cup of cold water to test for firmness, and flicked off the burner. i stirred in half of the bacon bits and poured the whole shebang into my buttered 11" x 7" pan. the recipe said that an 8" x 8" would yield thick caramels and a 13" x 9" would produce thinner ones, so i decided i'd just pick one in between and see how it worked out. i topped the mixture with the rest of the bacon bits and set the pan aside to firm up. it was so pretty and golden brown, and the kitchen smelled divine.
i cleaned up the mess i'd left behind as i worked, and when i poured the water out of that cup, the little blob i'd tested the candy with sat invitingly at the bottom. i popped it in my mouth, and it was ah-mazing. buttery, sweet, so good. yay!
thanks to the venti starbucks i'd guzzed that afternoon, i wasn't tired at all. and so at midnight, three hours after i'd poured that caramelly goodness into the pan, i returned to the kitchen to cut it into 1-inch pieces per the directions.
wanna see how anal i was about this stuff? i busted out a ruler to measure my score lines. a ruler, people! to cut candy! sheesh.
it was pretty sticky and firm. even my trusty shun knife wasn't, er, cutting it. but i got the brilliant idea to bust this out:
and in no time, i was all done. but i suck. despite my best efforts, i still had seriously uneven, slightly misshapen pieces cut out. oh, well. by that time, i didn't give a shit anymore.
as i began to pull the strips of caramels out, i found that my chopper hadn't cut them all the way through. i was getting pretty tired by then, and when i spied my kitchen scissors through increasingly bleary eyes, i decided to give 'em a shot. and you know what? they were the perfect tool for the job!
after trading a couple of e-mails with tater, who was also up late and sitting at the computer, i decided to drizzle half of them with some dark chocolate. i just hoped it would harden nicely. not wanting to dip them completely, i couldn't put them in the fridge and risk ending up with super-hard, toothbreaker candy instead of soft, chewy caramels. that would suck so much, especially after all my hard work.
as i wrapped the other pieces in wax paper, i put my "double boiler" (a pyrex bowl set inside a medium saucepan with a couple of inches of simmering water) together and melted the chocolate.
drizzle, drizzle, drizzle.
bedtime at last! yeah. it was 1:30. oy. and i had to be up early to get ready, pick up the teen and BFF, and head out to the restaurant for breakfast by 10:00.
i'm never drinking coffee after 4pm ever again.