Banoffee Trifle with Candied Bacon
Feeds 6 to 8
My restaurant Gunshow has no investors. To raise money I did a series of fundraising dinners all over the country. I customized the menu for each group—except for dessert. I’m not much of a pastry chef, so I stuck with my slam-dunk combo of bananas, toffee, and candied bacon. I made it several different ways. At first, I plated it as a deconstructed modernist dessert. Then in Seattle I served a much bigger group of folks and the modernist plating turned out to be too time-consuming. Out of sheer necessity, I made it into a trifle, and that’s what made the dish even more successful. It’s a layered dessert of vanilla custard, Candied Bacon, crushed shortbread cookies, fried bananas, toffee caramel, and chocolate ganache. You can totally make this at home. The layering makes it look awesome in a glass dish. Serve it with coffee and your friends will think you’re badass.
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup heavy cream, divided
1 teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt
1⁄4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Canola oil for frying
5 ounces 65% chocolate, chopped
12 ounces shortbread cookies
2 cups vanilla custard or pudding (see Good to Know)
16 strips Candied Bacon (recipe below), chopped, 2 pieces reserved for garnish
To make the caramel, melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the brown sugar and stir to combine. Bring to a boil and stir in 3⁄4 cup of the cream. Return to a boil and decrease the heat to a low simmer. Simmer, swirling occasionally, until the mixture reaches 235°F, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the salt and vanilla.
Heat the oil in a deep fryer to 350°F.
Peel the bananas and fry until deep golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel–lined plate to cool.
Heat the remaining 1⁄4 cup cream in a small saucepan just to a boil, then remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate until melted.
Place the cookies in a large zip-top bag, squeeze out any excess air, and roll with a rolling pin a few times to make very coarse crumbs; you should have about 3 cups.
You can make one large trifle bowl or individual servings in 8-ounce canning jars. To assemble, layer one-third of the cookie crumbs, half the custard, half the bacon, half the fried bananas, half the caramel, and the chocolate; continue layering on the remaining custard, bacon, bananas, and one-third of the crumbs; top with the remaining caramel and crumbs. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day. Cut the reserved bacon into long strips and garnish each serving with a strip.
Good to Know:
You can replace the chocolate with 3⁄4 cup semisweet chocolate chips.
Use your favorite vanilla custard or pudding here; store-bought will work but homemade is better.
Makes 1 pound; About 16 slices
I was out of town having breakfast at a diner one day, and along with the scrambled eggs and hash browns on the menu, I saw candied bacon. Bring it on! I’d been playing with different ways of candying bacon—like coating the bacon in liquid sugar—but it never came out crisp enough. When the candied bacon came to the table, it was thick cut with a gorgeous sheen and tasted nice and crispy. “How do you make this?” I asked the waitress. She said they just sprinkle brown sugar on it and bake it. Duh—sometimes chefs overthink things. This is one of the simplest preparations in the world to make. Definitely give it a try.
11⁄2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound Belly Bacon, sliced and chilled
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.
Combine the brown sugar and salt and spread in a pile across the center short side of another baking sheet. Separate the bacon into single slices and, one by one, lay the bacon in the sugar mixture and press to crust it on both sides, patting so the sugar adheres. You should have a fairly thick layer of brown sugar on both sides of the bacon. Spread in a single layer on the parchment-lined baking sheets. Sprinkle any remaining sugar over the bacon. Bake until the sugar melts, bubbles, and turns a deep brick red color, 18 to 20 minutes; the bacon will start to curl. If using thick-sliced bacon, after 18 minutes increase the oven temperature to 400°F and bake until crispy and deep brick red in color, another 10 minutes or so. Remove from the oven and immediately transfer to a baking sheet lined with nonstick foil or a silicone mat. Serve immediately or let cool and refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
Good to Know:
If you replace the Belly Bacon with store-bought bacon, buy a thick-cut dry-cured bacon smoked with real hickory wood.
During recipe testing, Gena Berry went one step further with this candied bacon and turned it into Crack Bacon, a wicked addictive snack. To make it, just add 11⁄2 teaspoons cayenne pepper, 2 teaspoons Espelette pepper, and 1 teaspoon ground black pepper along with the sugar and salt in the recipe. It tastes best baked and served immediately. But you can get a jump on prep by mixing up the spice mixture ahead of time and spreading it on the prepared baking sheets. Then just coat the bacon in the seasoning, bake, and serve.