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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

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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    Would you like to comment?

    1. Happy birthday! This seems to be pretty darn special as it is, and would be happy to try out all your versions in pursuit of that extra-special one.

    2. Cathy at Wives with KnivesMay 8, 2012 at 10:26 AM

      Although it sounds good and is very popular I just can't get excited about the bacon-chocolate combination. But you tried it, and it was what your son wanted. It is a beautiful cake, Heather. Thanks for the candid review. They aren't all winners.

    3. This idea certainly sounds interesting so I understand why you kept the recipe so long. That's cool that your son specifically asked for it. :) Sorry it wasn't perfect but it sounds that you already know how to make it better. Love the idea of the candied bacon! It certainly looks delicious just like it is! Happy Birthday to your son!

    4. I haven't been able to wrap my head around bacon in desserts, but then I am not a growing boy with a hollow leg. My son tells me that he completely gets the concept. :)

    5. Me gustan éstas combinaciones, dulce con salado!! qué rico!!!

    6. I'm in awe. And drooling. But mostly in awe. What a fantastic way to use chocolate and bacon together - I've had the two combined before, but never as part of a cake! I'm SOO happy you shared this...

    7. You know what? Your children will have the most amazing memories of childhood, like the one you created for your son here. With an out of the ordinary birthday cake. How awesome are you? Very! Looks great, Heather,

    8. I'm with Cathy ... you tried it, it was a gift to your son, and now, you'll think on it and comeup with a bacon laced offering that more suits your taste ... that's what cooking is all about. We all take ideas and make them our own! It sure is a pretty cake, though! I could almost see your face in that ganache, as you took the photo from above!

    9. That is a super looking birthday cake! Can't say I've ever seen a cake with liquid smoke in the frosting. Definitely curious to how it tastes.

      Happy Birthday to your baby!

    10. Hi Heather. This cake really looks delish. I'm hoping I can leave this post with the disqus. Your son must have been very happy. Happy Birthday to your son. Take care.

    11. I love it when cake requests force me to make something I've been meaning to make but just haven't gotten around to. I can definitely see why he requested this! It is serious. In the best possible way.

    12. Well it definitely LOOKS amazing! I have a feeling your ideas will really make it even better. Your son must have been in heaven. He is such a cutie. I'm sure he will ALWAYS remember the special cake he requested and his mommy making it con amor -- and that's whats most important.

    13. It sure looks good to me! But I know what you mean, sometimes things just are not as you hoped. I'm so glad the birthday boy liked it though - they grow up so fast!!

    14. Dorothy@CrazyforCrustMay 13, 2012 at 10:33 PM

      Oh my, that sounds heavenly!

    15. Gorgeous and swoonworthy.

      Y'know, a lot of people throw bacon on stuff these days and the bacon works it's magic and makes even the mediocre taste pretty darn good.

      But...that's not what's going on here. Here you've taken something already artfully crafted -- a perfect cake, and added just the right amount bacon to compliment and balance. You're a stand-out as always Heather, and it's what keeps me coming back time and time again.


    16. Sorry it wasn't a keeper. I've made a few of these lately. Love the pics of his face (what a cutie), I do love the layer of bacon. I am sure with your tweaking it will be fab!!