But that didn’t stop me from trying…
While perusing the food section on the Atlantic’s website, I came across a recipe that called for using bacon fat to give a savory edge to chocolate cakelettes. The idea intrigued me. And ever since Beth at Belly Bulletin’s post on bouchons reminded me of their yumminess, I’d been meaning to make a batch. Thomas Keller includes a recipe for the delightful treat that’s the namesake of his chain of restaurants and bakeries, Bouchon, in his same-named cookbook. So, I decided to do a mashup of the bacon fat cakelette recipe and TK’s bouchons.
I know my Granny is rolling over in her grave, but I don’t usually keep the leftover fat when I fry bacon. Between the lingering smell and the unappetizing appearance of congealed pork fat, I can’t bring myself to do so. Granny, however, kept a special grease can in the cupboard and I can vividly remember her pouring off fresh fat into that can. Corn bread fried in bacon fat was one of her many specialties. Another of Granny's specialties was spaghetti and meatballs in a ketchup sauce that she always served with a jug of purple kool-aid chock full of orange slices. (That spaghetti tasted a lot better than it sounds.)
Thus, the need for rendered bacon fat meant I would have to fry up some bacon. Since I was going to have cooked bacon as a by-product of my experiment, I decided on a BLT for lunch. (I don’t make a BLT often but I should- it’s a damn fine sandwich.) I consider the two-for-one generosity of this recipe to be one of its best qualities. Perhaps the best quality because I wasn’t really crazy about the finished product.
Maybe it’s due to my professed distaste, but I thought the addition of bacon fat clouded the deliciously rich, chocolately goodness of the bouchons. As soon as I raised a bouchon to my lips to take a bite, the smell of bacon fat turned my stomach. However, the bacon fat did lend a smoky, unctuous quality to the bouchons so maybe it’s just me. You might enjoy them.
I learned my lesson - you just don’t mess with perfection. I’m sticking with Mr. Keller’s unadulterated bouchon recipe from here on out.
Bouchons with Bacon Fat
adapted from the bouchon recipe in Bouchon cookbook by Thomas Keller
If you’ve ever been intimidated by a TK recipe, his bouchon recipe is one to try. It’s simple, quick, and so rewarding. Basically, it’s a fancy brownie recipe. I adapted the butter quantity in TK’s recipe to allow the addition of bacon fat. Approximately 6 strips of bacon yielded the three tablespoons of fat called for. I also added some freshly ground pepper when prepping the dry ingredients. TK’s recipe calls for 2 or 3-ounce Fleximolds, such as is used at Bouchon Bakery. A popover pan works just fine, as would a muffin or cupcake pan. I reduced all ingredient quantities a bit as I only wanted to make enough batter to fill my popover mold’s twelve 2” diameter cups. You’ll want to polish these bouchons off the day you make them because they tend to get dry and crumbly with age. (Don’t we all?)
1/2 c all-purpose flour + additional for flouring pan
2/3 c unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 t kosher salt
A few twists of freshly ground pepper
2 large eggs
1 c plus 1 T granulated sugar
1/2 t pure vanilla extract
6 oz unsalted butter, melted and just slightly warm
2 T rendered bacon fat + additional 1 T for greasing pan
4 oz semisweet chocolate (I used a 64% Costa Rican chocolate), chopped into pieces the size of chocolate chips
Confectioner's sugar for dusting
2. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, freshly ground pepper, and salt into a bowl.
3. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together the eggs and sugar on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until thickened and pale in color. Mix in the vanilla. On low speed, add about one-third of the dry ingredients, then one-third of the butter, and continue alternating with the remaining flour and butter. Add the chocolate and mix to combine. Batter can be refrigerated for up to a day.
4. Put the greased and floured popover pan on a baking sheet. Using two teaspoons, scoop enough batter into each individual popover mold to fill approximately two-thirds full. Place in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. When the tops look shiny and set (like a brownie), test with a toothpick. The toothpick should be clean but not dry; however, there may be some melted chocolate from the chopped chocolate.
5. Transfer the popover pan to a cooling rack. After a couple of minutes, invert the pan and let the bouchons cool upside down in the molds; then lift off the pan. Dust bouchons with confectioners' sugar to serve.