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Bacon Fudge w/ Bacon-Caramel Shards

I refuse to apologize for my love of bacon.  It's something I can't help.  Meaty, salty, smoky strips of goodness.  Me likey.  And you know those chocolate bars studded with bacon?  Well, I've never tried one.  Always meant to, just never ran across one...or took the time to order one.  But I know I'd like it...the combination.  I mean, salty marries sweet?  It's a natural.  So, as soon as Beth Anne rolled out her Bacon Games, I figured it was time for me to make that union at home.  Plus, 'tis the season for fudge...or it will be in the blink of an eye...which meant it was time to start experimenting!  This is one of those quick-fudge methods, which I learned from THE kitchen goddess herself, Nigella Lawson.  But the candied bacon nestled inside...I put that there.  You're welcome.

Bacon Fudge w/ Bacon Caramel Shards
from the kitchen of girlichef
yield: 64 bite sized or 36 two-bite sized pieces

 for the candied bacon:
½ lb. bacon
brown sugar, for dredging

for the fudge:
12 oz. bittersweet or dark chocolate, chips or chopped
14 oz. can sweetened, condensed milk
2 Tbs. butter

Begin by making the candied bacon.  Preheat oven to 400° F.  Dredge both sides of the bacon in brown sugar and lay on a parchment lined sheet tray.
Bake for ~15-20 minutes, or until the bacon is just done and the brown sugar has just set and caramelized.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.  I also had some beautiful bacon-flavored caramel on left on my sheet of parchment and thought it would be an awesome addition to the fudge!
Place the chocolate, sweetened condensed milk, and butter in a medium pan over medium-low heat.  Stir everything around until the chocolate has melted and everything is melded together in a gorgeous, glossy mass. Remove from heat. Crumble the caramelized bacon and bacon caramel shards into the mixture, reserving a couple of pieces of each for the top, and gently fold them in.  Line an 8x8 pan with parchment paper (for easy lifting) and pour the fudge mixture in, scooting it out to the sides if necessary.  Crumble the reserved couple of pieces of bacon & caramel over the top and gently press down.
Refrigerate for a couple of hours, or until set.  Life the fudge out of the pan using the parchment paper.  Cut into squares, ~1" (eight by eight) for perfect one-bite morsels!  Or, if you prefer, go 6 by 6 and get 36 double-bite-sized hunks.  Store in the fridge...or even in the freezer for longer-term storage...can be eaten directly from freezer.
I LOVED the combination of sweet and salty...just as I knew I would.  A marriage made in heaven, indeed.  This is my entry into the very first Bacon Games challenge!  I am also sending this over to Jenn at Cooking Aweigh the Pounds who is hosting BSI (Blogger Secret Ingredient) this week...secret ingredient...Bacon!