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Bacon-Laced Chocolate Cake

This cake was more than eight and half months in the making.  It comes from a section in a BHG magazine from last September that I ripped out and had pinned to my bulletin board for a couple of months.  My youngest son saw it hanging there, and being the bacon-lover that he is, asked me if he could have that cake for his birthday.  Which was still a good six months or so in the future.  Who am I to deny him his birthday cake of choice?

So, with a plan for it in mind, I tucked it away into a recipe folder instead of leaving it pinned in plain view (I knew I'd no longer forget about it if it was out of sight...).  Fast-forward six or so months...eight and half or so since I first found the the day before "the" birthday.

Time to bake the cake!  It's pretty simple to put together.  It bakes up nice and firm - a good base for frosting.  But in my opinion, it wasn't anything extra-special.  Which was a  bummer.  I always want to present extra-special when baking a cake for somebody on their extra-special day.  Sigh.  Don't get me wrong; it wasn't bad.  It was good, really.  It just didn't pack that WOW that eight+ months of anticipation called for.
Sweet Thang was happy, though.  He liked it.  (But a mother can always tell when it's one of those must-keep-and-make-yearly recipes...and this wasn't one of them.)  I think it would have been better with candied bacon.  And different frosting.  I do love ganache...but it was just too firm.  I would love to develop an extra-special bacon-laced chocolate cake one day.  Because I do like the combination.  I think I'll use a cake that is  less firm.  A frosting that is fluffier.  And candied bacon.  But until then, you'll never know if you don't try.  Right!?

Bacon-Laced Chocolate Cake

by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Keywords: bake dessert bacon chocolate birthday cake

Ingredients (16 servings)
    for the cake
    • 1 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 1½ c. boiling water
    • 2¾ c. all-purpose flour
    • 2 tsp. baking soda
    • ½ tsp. baking powder
    • ½ tsp. salt
    • 2 vanilla beans
    • 8 oz. butter, at room temp.
    • 2 c. sugar
    • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
    • 4 large eggs
    Frosting (Ganache)
    • 12 oz. bittersweet or dark chocolate, chopped
    • 2 c. heavy cream
    • 5 drops liquid smoke
    • 5 slices bacon (+ more to garnish, if you choose)
    Preheat oven to 350° F. Generously butter and flour two 8" or 9" cake pans (if using 8", make sure it is at least 2" deep).

    Place cocoa powder in a bowl. Gradually whisk in the boiling water until thoroughly combines. Set aside to cool a bit.

    Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in another bowl.

    Place the whole vanilla beans in a food processor and process until finely chopped (or do this by hand). Put these in the bowl of a food processor fitted with paddle attachment. Add butter, sugar, and vanilla extract and cream everything together until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down sides as needed.
    Add dry ingredients in fourths, alternating with the cocoa liquid, going slowly so that you don't get spattered! Beat everything until just combined.

    Divide batter evenly into prepared pans. Slide into oven and bake for ~30 minutes, or until center is just barely set, being careful not to over-bake. Set pans on wire racks to rest for 10 minutes before turning out of pans. Transfer cakes back to wire racks and allow to cool completely.

    Frosting/Filling (Ganache & Bacon)
    Cook bacon all the way through (until just before crisp). Reserve 1 Tbs. of the drippings (grease). Drain on paper towels. When cool enough to handle, chop bacon fine. You should have ~⅓ of a cup. If you made extra to use as garnish, set this aside and use as you please.

    Place the chocolate in a bowl with the reserved bacon drippings and the liquid smoke. Heat 1½ cups of the heavy cream just until it boils (watch carefully, this goes fast and it will bubble over before you know it). Pour over the chocolate and whisk until smooth. Whisk in remaining ½ cup of cold cream.

    Set the bowl in the freezer and whisk it every 10 minutes or so until it reaches a spreadable consistency, 30-60 minutes. Frosting should remain "glossy".

    Stir reserved bacon into ½ cup of the frosting.

    Place one layer of cake on serving plate. Spread with the ½ cup of frosting that you added the chopped bacon to. Place second cake layer on top and frost top and sides with remaining frosting. Cover the cake and refrigerate. Let cake sit at room temperature ~30 minutes before serving.

    I garnished this cake with extra cooked bacon since it was for my son's birthday. But if you like, go with a more "delicate" presentation. The original recipe was garnished with edible (unsprayed) rose petals.

    slightly adapted from Katrina Markoff via BHG Magazine Sept.'11
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