We went apple picking the other day - such a glorious day to go, and yet today somehow, I decide to perfect candied bacon!
A dear friend turned me onto candied bacon earlier this year and since that introduction, I've made candied bacon several times, each time realizing that I could eat a full pound of bacon by myself. It's such a treat - the saltiness, sweet and spice (if you add red pepper flakes) combine in such perfect harmony.
The recipes I've tried since that introduction generally work well, but can be a bit messy. Of course, it's totally worth the effort, but there are some days you just don't feel like getting brown sugar everywhere. Another dear friend mentioned how he uses maple syrup instead of brown sugar. Sounds like a good idea, but when it comes to baked goods in general - I feel like brown sugar is king. Well, this sweet little find at a Taste of NY shop was the game changer I needed.
This caused me to want to go back to the drawing board and try and cobble together the perfect candied bacon recipe. Since I had gone grocery shopping earlier in the week, and there was a sale of my favorite bacon - a thick cut bacon smoked with cherry wood - I was in luck. I had all the ingredients necessary to try out a brand new recipe.
All you need is 5 ingredients - Bacon (thick cut works best), brown sugar (I couldn't omit this entirely), maple syrup, cinnamon and red pepper flakes (totally optional). I mixed the brown sugar, maple syrup and cinnamon together, then tossed in the bacon, stirring to fully coat every slice. I spread the bacon on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, pouring any excess mix on top of the bacon slices and sprinkled a few strips with crushed red pepper flakes.
Bake in a pre-heated oven set to 225 degrees for roughly 2 to 2 1/2 hours (upwards of three depending on how thick your bacon is). The slow cooking time is key - the fat renders out and the brown sugar / maple syrup glaze caramelizes perfectly. Once done, transfer them to a parchment paper lined plate to cool. Break up into pieces and enjoy!
Best Candied Maple Bourbon Bacon Recipe
1 lb Bacon, thick cut
1/2 cup Maple Syrup, aged in bourbon barrels
1/4 cup Dark Brown Sugar
1/4 tsp Cinnamon
Red Pepper Flakes, optional, to taste
Pre-heat oven to 225 degrees.
Combine the brown sugar, maple syrup and cinnamon in a medium bowl and mix well. Add the bacon to the bowl and stir until all strips have been thoroughly coated. Spread out the bacon strips on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, pouring excess mixture on top of the bacon strips. Be sure that none of the bacon strips are touching. Sprinkle crushed red pepper flakes on top of desired.
Bake for 2 to 2 1/2 hours (up to 3 hours depending on thickness of bacon). Remove from oven and pour off excess fat. Transfer bacon strips to a plate lined with parchment paper to cool completely. Enjoy!
*Note: I made this as a half batch, using half the bacon for breakfast earlier that day and reserving the rest for this application. All of the ingredients half perfectly, if you chose to do the same.