Introduction: Bacon Fruit Cups
Bacon should be combined with everything, so why not fruit salad?
This is one of the dishes I made for Bacon Camp SF 2010 - it got 4s and 5s from the judges, so is guaranteed to be tasty! If you're a fan of bacon or fruit, give it a try.
This was inspired by Jess's BLT cups (bacon cups filled with lettuce, sliced tomatoes, and fresh garlicky croutons) were a hit at 2009's Thanksgiving II: Bacongiving. Thanks, Jess!
ETA: and you can see some great BLT cups on Not Martha, too. Apparently trebuchet03's bacon placemat was an inspiration!
Step 1: Tools and Ingredients
2 lbs Bacon (long skinny pieces are better than short fat pieces)
Fresh basil leaves
Homemade aioli (substitute: store-bought mayo + lemon juice)
Fresh mango, cubed
Large avocado, cubed
1/4-1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 large onion, sliced into thin rings
1 tablespoon brown sugar
baking tray large enough to contain the upside-down muffin tin
heavy pot for frying bacon
splatter screen (very handy!)
food processor (or blender)
oven (preheated to 500F)
Step 2: Prep Bacon Cups
Preheat oven to 450F.
If you have a metal muffin tin, cover the back side with aluminum foil to prevent the bacon from sticking. (I used a silicone pan, which avoids this problem.)
Turn your muffin tin upside-down, and place it on top of a baking dish to catch grease drips. If you don't have a large enough pan, get creative with aluminum foil - there's going to be LOTS of grease, and you don't want it smoking and burning on the bottom of the oven. A double sheet of foil with a folded-up lip will probably do the trick.
Stretch bacon lengthwise to increase pliability (skip this step if you're using thin-cut bacon!) and cut a few pieces in half. Each cup will take 1-2 strips of bacon, depending on their length and thickness - you want two strips crossed across the muffin cup, and at least one full wrap around the sides of the cup. Tuck ends under to avoid the dreaded bacon curl-up.
Technique 1: 1.5 strips
Drape a half piece over the cup. Stretch your second piece, and drape it across the first piece at a 90-degree angle. Fold the bacon up at a 90-degree angle, and wrap it around the cup. Tuck tail into the fold.
Technique 2: 2 strips
Drape the bacon over the cup so one end is touching the ground, then fold the other side at a 90-degree angle and wrap the rest around the cup - it shouldn't fit all the way around. (If it does, use technique 1.) Repeat with another strip, 90 degrees offset from the first, except tuck the initial end under the first bacon loop, and make sure all wrapped ends are tucked in/under as well.
This is hard to describe, but just play with it - even a messily-wrapped cup will work so long as the ends are tucked under. You can also wrap a coil of wire around your bacon cup to keep things in place, but I find this quasi-weaving quicker and classier. Check out the close-up shots in pictures 3 and 4 below for bacon-tucking details.
Step 3: Bake Bacon Cups
Bake bacon cups in a 500F oven. Be sure your tray catches all the melting bacon grease!
Remove from the oven when bacon is brown and crispy, but NOT burned! Set the entire assembly aside to cool.
Step 4: Remove & Cool Bacon Cups
When the bacon cups are cool, carefully pry them off of the muffin tin. Lift from the bottom to avoid cracking the bacon, or otherwise damaging the shape.
Your fingers should do the job, but a silicone spatula can also be handy. I used a flexible silicone pan, so was able to fold the muffin cups inward away from the bacon for even easier removal.
Place the finished bacon cups on paper towels to finish draining and cooling.
Step 5: Prep Bacon Powder
Fry 5-6 strips of bacon slowly, making sure they're cooked through and crispy. Dry and cool on paper towels.
Remove any non-crispy bits (and eat them!), then give the crispy bits a final pat-down to remove extra grease.
Toss them in the food processor, add a tablespoon of powdered sugar, and give it a whirl. The bacon grease will still likely stick to the sides, so scrape them down with a spatula, add another tablespoon of powdered sugar, and turn the sucker back on. Repeat until the bacon stops sticking, and achieves a dry, light, fluffy, powdery "weaponized" state.
Optional: add a teaspoon of cocoa powder, and blend in. This goes nicely with the fruit, but is totally skippable.
Step 6: Prep Onion Confit
Cut one medium-sized onion in half from top to bottom, then cut each half into thin semi-circular slices.
Put onion slices into the pan of bacon fat leftover from making the bacon for bacon powder. Add a pinch of salt, and cook gently (low/medium heat) until onions are soft and starting to brown.
Add a tablespoon of brown sugar, and continue cooking until the sugar has incorporated and the onions are meltingly soft, sweet, and evenly browned.
Set aside to cool. If you refrigerate the onions, let them come to room temperature before using - solidified grease is kind of gross.
Step 7: Prep Fillings
Chop your mango as described in How to Cut a Mango. Slice the spikes off at their base, and set the perfect little chunks aside.
Chop your avocado as described in Avocado Preparing Made Simple, but use a spoon to scoop out the pre-cut chunks instead of squeezing. This will keep your chunks nice and... chunky.
Wash your basil, and spin or pat dry.
Pull out the jar of previously-prepared aioli, whip it up from scratch, or mix some lemon juice in with your store-bought mayonnaise.
Pull out your onion confit (step 6) and your bacon powder (step 5).
Step 8: Assemble
Line each bacon cup with basil whole fresh basil leaves. Place the base of the leaf in the center of the cup, and let the tip stick up past the edge of the cup. Use 2-4 basil leaves, depending on size.
Place a dollop of aioli in the middle of the basil leaves.
Fill the cup with an even mix of avocado and mango chunks.
Dust everything with a fine coating of bacon powder. A sifter is great for this - just put a scoop of bacon powder in, and gently whack it over the bacon cups to produce a fine dusting.
Top with a big pinch of onion confit.
Step 9: Serve
These are perfect for buffets, picnics, and other single-serving, no-utensils eating extravaganzas.
Serve immediately, or leave at room temperature until serving. These should be safe to leave at room temperature for several hours as the bacon is fully fried and separated from the wet ingredients.
These are awesome, and disappear quickly - storage shouldn't be an issue!
If for some reason you must refrigerate the assembled cups, let them come up to room temperature before serving. Better to refrigerate all ingredients separately (store bacon cups at room temperature) and assemble shortly before you serve.
Substitute other fruits and herbs to fit your tastes and the seasons. The mango works because it has a nice strong acidic flavor that works well against the bacon - I'd expect cherries, pineapple, and other assertive fruits to fill the same niche. Avocado could be subbed for a nice, ripe, melty pear - this one's about mouth feel. Cilantro and mint would be good substitutes for the basil.