The Story: I've been playing around with Molecular Gastronomy recently, learning some basic techniques and concepts, and had a cowboy-themed dinner coming up with some friends. I thought: "Why not take some rustic cowboy flavors and combine them with science into a dessert!?" Just as this was happening, I saw the instructables bacon contest. I thought..."Destiny awaits!" So here we are...
Servings: Serves 12 (with extras for the chef). Also, it tastes good along the way. Every step has something nice to sample. Enjoy your journey.
Difficulty / Time: I'd classify this as an easy recipe (especially for a dessert), but it can take time (maybe 3 hrs all in). Cooking bacon properly...takes a good 20min. Letting each of the 2 parts set (the bean and the glaze), takes time in the refrigerator (I gave them about 1hr a piece). Also there's the boiling of the different parts and general prep and schlep. Give yourself a few hours and have fun with it....don't rush!
(1) 28 oz can of Baked Beans
Agar Agar (unsweetened)
(12) Cupcake Silicone Molds (or other easy to use mold, silicone is nice because it's so flexible and easy to clean)
Small Pot for boiling
Melon-Baller (optional but super helpful)
Disclaimers: First of all, I am not responsible for you hurting yourself in your kitchen, but if this turns out to be the best thing you ever ate, I'll happily take credit. Secondly, the beans may give you gas. If you are averse to such things...get a digestive enzyme to help out.
Finally, some of the process pictures are unappetizing...don't be put off by this!! Skip to the end if you want to see how glorious it will look! Think of it as an ugly, turd-looking duckling that soon transforms into a delightfully delicious swan.
Step 1: Build a Better Bean Cake
1) Blend down 28oz of baked beans into a paste.
2) Add 1 cup of Maple syrup for sweetness and volume
3) Add 1/2 cup of water for a more liquid consistency and a touch more volume.
This gives us 5 cups of fluid mix.
4) Put this fluid mix into a pot.
5) Add 5 tbsp Agar Agar into your mix (1 tbsp for every cup of fluid you're thickening).
6) Bring mix to a boil, stirring gently the whole time (to minimize sticking at the bottom of pot)
7) Once it boils, reduce heat to simmer for 5 minutes and continue stirring to dissolve Agar Agar.
8) Ladle/Spoon the mix into your silicone molds (don't over-fill).
9) Set aside in fridge to set thoroughly (about an hour - or until it doesn't jiggle when you shake it and comes freely off mold sides)
10) Once set, de-mold into a baking pan
11) Scoop out a depression in the center of each to act as a niche for the maple/bourbon glaze
Step 2: Makin' Bacon Bits
1) Lay out your bacon strips as in the picture below (no overlapping of the strips and minimal touching on the sides).
2) Cook on LOW heat.
3) Turn bacon semi-frequently to make sure it's not burning
4) It's getting close to done when the bacon starts to foam
5) When it's done, drain the bacon on a paper towel covered plate and pat dry (CAREFUL it's HOT).
6) Tear up bacon and chop into bits... reserve off to the side.
Step 3: The Maple Bourbon Glaze
2) Boil this new mix, then simmer for 5 minutes, stirring gently all the while.
3) Spoon the resulting mix into the depressions in the bean cakes you created. Make sure they're filled evenly, then go back and over-fill as desired. The more the whole thing is covered, the sexier it all looks.
4) Put it in the fridge to set (about an hour or so)