published Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

Bacon, chocolate belong together

What is it about bacon that's so incredibly good? It's like potato chips -- you can't eat just one.

Since the growing popularity of bacon is one of the Top 10 food trends of the past decade, it's no surprise the demand for bacon-infused products is high.

Locally, you can get pancakes-and-bacon donuts at Julie Darling Donuts on the North Shore. They're so good, they border on the outrageous.

And Eckrich, maker of hot dogs and other meat products, has a new line of bacon-infused deli meats. They come in five flavors: Bacon Covered Ham, Bacon Ranch Chicken Breast, Bacon Covered Club, Applewood Smoked Turkey Breast With Bacon and Peppered Bacon Covered Roast Beef.

Could a sandwich get any better? Hardly. There's nothing better than bacon on a roast beef sandwich, but sometimes you simply don't have time to fry up a couple of slices.

Now you don't have to.

I bought a half-pound of each of the five flavors at the Walmart deli for a taste test. I had them thinly sliced, perfect for a sandwich or salad. I consumed each half-pound over a 10-day period and found each one to be a cut above other deli meats, though I couldn't taste the bacon in the Peppered Bacon Covered Roast Beef or the Bacon Ranch Chicken Breast.

The best by far, and I highly recommend it, is the Applewood Smoked Turkey Breast With Bacon, which has real bits of bacon embedded in the meat. Very good.

But that's not all. I have my sister to thank for my new addiction: chocolate-covered bacon. It may sound like a strange combination, but I would compare it to peanuts and chocolate together. I fell in love with that sweet/salty combination the first time I tried Peanut M&M's, and I experienced the same sensation the first time I took a bite of chocolate-covered bacon.

Here's one of several recipes I found online, this one from tasteofhome.com. I've tried it, and it's amazing.

Chocolate-Covered Bacon

12 strips thick-sliced bacon (about 1 pound)

12 (12-inch) wooden skewers

6 ounces white candy coating, chopped

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1 tablespoon shortening

Optional toppings: chopped dried apple chips, apricots and crystallized ginger, finely chopped pecans and pistachios, toasted coconut, kosher salt, brown sugar, cayenne pepper and coarsely ground black pepper

Thread each bacon strip onto a wooden skewer. Place on a rack in a large baking pan. Bake at 400 F for 20-25 minutes or until crisp. Cool completely.

In a microwave, melt candy coating; stir until smooth. Combine chocolate chips and shortening; melt in a microwave, and stir until smooth.

With pastry brushes, coat bacon on both sides with melted coatings. Top each strip as desired. Place on wax-paper-lined baking sheets. Refrigerate until firm. Store in the refrigerator.

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