One of the best things about cooking is the excitement of trying something new, creating something or just doing the unusual because you can. My friend posed a challenge to me a few months ago, after I got my ice cream maker: she'd seen it on Top Chef and when I asked what flavor she wanted, she enthusiastically proposed BACON. She was probably half kidding but I take challenges seriously and she promised she'd at least try it if I made it.
I mulled it over for a while, thought about ways to infuse the custard base with bacon flavor (heat the cream with bacon bits then strain them out?). I planned, plotted, and was just about to just throw stuff together and see what happened. Then I found a recipe on David Lebovitz's blog and that was that. He starts by "candying" the bacon. Pretty much the same as making a sweet bacon (say, maple bacon). I really like the idea of baking the stuff, though; I have issues with frying bacon. I know, it seems easy but there's always SOMETHING that gives you problems. Bacon is one of my enemies... And the finished product. It was kind of difficult to cut but that's because it wasn't crisp (which I didn't want for the ice cream, to be honest). So it's sticky from the brown sugar and soft. Messy messy. But wait! There's more... The custard is a simple, brown sugar base (with vanilla and a splash of whisky) and it was really good by itself. But if I didn't add the bacon then it would just be brown sugar ice cream and that's not what this was about. NO.
So I put it together and gave it a taste. It tastes like... [drum roll] ice cream and bacon. IKR?? Yeah, it's pretty straightforward. BUT the friend that requested it, liked it so that's all that mattered. (And a few more people who tried it were pretty okay with it!) It's something I can say I've tried now and that's something! BACON ICE CREAM
Source: David Lebovitz
For the candied bacon;
5 strips bacon
about 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
For the ice cream custard:
3 tablespoons salted butter
3/4 cup (packed) brown sugar, light or dark (you can use either)
2 3/4 cup half-and-half
5 large egg yolks
2 teaspoons dark rum or whiskey
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
optional: 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1. To candy the bacon, preheat the oven to 400F (200C).
2. Lay the strips of bacon on a baking sheet lined with a silicone mat or aluminum foil, shiny side down.
3. Sprinkle 1 1/2-2 teaspoons of brown sugar evenly over each strip of bacon, depending on length.
4. Bake for 12-16 minutes. Midway during baking, flip the bacon strips over and drag them through the dark, syrupy liquid that's collected on the baking sheet. Continue to bake until as dark as mahogany. Remove from oven and cool the strips on a wire rack.
5. Once crisp and cool, chop into little pieces, about the size of grains of rice. (Bacon bits can be stored in an airtight container and chilled for a day or so, or stored in the freezer a few weeks ahead.)
6. To make the ice cream custard, melt the butter in a heavy, medium-size saucepan. Stir in the brown sugar and half of the half-and-half. Pour the remaining half-and-half into a bowl set in an ice bath and set a mesh strainer over the top.
7. In a separate bowl, stir together the egg yolks, then gradually add some of the warm brown sugar mixture to them, whisking the yolks constantly as you pour. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan.
8. Cook over low to moderate heat, constantly stirring and scraping the bottom with a heatproof spatula, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula.
9. Strain the custard into the half-and-half, stirring over the ice bath, until cool. Add liquor, vanilla and cinnamon, if using.
10. Refrigerate the mixture. Once thoroughly chilled, freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Add the bacon bits during the last moment of churning, or stir them in when you remove the ice cream from the machine.