Monday, June 29, 2009

Test #177: Bacon and Jicama

The subject

Parents, don't let your kids go as long as we did without discovering this crisp, versatile root vegetable. You can eat jicama raw or cooked, sweet or savory, by itself or with other ingredients. It might not be pretty--we think it looks like the result of a drunken roll in the hay between a turnip and a potato--but it's pretty damned tasty. Of course, we had to wrap it in bacon. You'll note that the jicama our procurement department looks, quite literally, butt ugly. Good job, Procurement!

The result
Yay! Bacon wrapped jicama FTW! By the way, a younger BDJ Labs associate had to explain that the "FTW" we keep seeing in texts, on Facebook, and on Twitter is lingo slung about by video-game enthusiasts--it means something is very, very good, and it stands for "for the win." Whatever. Bacon-wrapped jicama is good and definitely worth repeating for a bacon party--maybe sharing a platter with bacon-wrapped dates, so that you get a mix of crunchy and smushy textures next to each other.

The conclusion: Bacon + jicama = crunchy and awesome

Next up: We haven't decided ye--I mean, it's a surprise!

Friday, June 26, 2009

The heat wave continues

While the staff of BDJ Labs has managed to consume bacon (most recently, via a late dinner at the excellent Golden Apple restaurant--bacon-jack omelets RULE) despite the heat, we still haven't come up with an acceptable way to cook our bacon in our facility without overheating the office (sorry, microwave--you just don't cut it). We feel terribly about this, and we hope the following bacon-porn pics at least partially satisfy you, our dear readers. You can try these at home, if you like--just don't overheat yourselves (although if you do, you can cool back down with a bacon mary--mmm).

Bacon straws--make these by twisting a strip of bacon, or two strips on top of each other, then baking in your good ol' oven.

The baconkini--closer to actual PORNporn than we meant, but doesn't that look tasty?

Many candy shops offer chocolate-covered bacon, but you can duplicate the recipe at home for cheap--just melt your favorite chocolate, dip the bacon, cool, and eat.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Too hot for bacon?

Shortly after 9 a.m. and the temperature inside the BDJ Labs facility already is insufferable--we can't imagine turning on the oven, even if it is to consume delicious bacon. We're currently discussing how to get around the heat--air-condition BDJ HQ, move to an associates' cooler office, procure precooked bacon to mix in with test subjects (instead of baking), put tests on hold until the mercury drops, etc. We love bacon, but we don't want to die for it (not yet, anyway).

In the meantime, we can't just leave you hanging--click on the photo (or here, if you're too hot and tired to drag your mouse alllllll the way back up and over there) to read about one intrepid baconeer's bold efforts to make a bacon blowtorch. Yeah, you read that right.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Test #176: Bacon and BUBU LUBU

The subject
There are many awesome things about living in a multicultural city like Chicago. One, if you're from another country--even if it's a small European country most people haven't even heard of--you can find restaurants and stores that give you a piece of home in the States. Two, if you come from a fairly whitebread, sheltered background, you can expose yourself to all the cultures you missed as a kid simply by walking down the street.

Dulcelandia is one of those places we've stopped in. It's got a number of locations around Chicago, each one of them wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling stuffed with Mexican confections. We like to browse and stock up on things that sound anywhere from the sublime (mango hard candies) to ridiculous (tamarind-flavored, cockroach-shaped lollis dipped in chili powder). Bubu Lubu falls high on the scale--combining chocolate, strawberry jelly and marshmallow sounds like a winning combo to us. But would it be successful with bacon?

The results

The conclusion: Bacon + Bubu Lubu = yucky, mushy mess

Next up: Bacon + jicama

Monday, June 22, 2009

Frozen bacon!

Oh, noes!

It turns out that putting the bacon on the top shelf of the ancient BDJ Labs cold-temperature bacon preservation chamber (i.e. the fridge) was a horrible idea--our entire supply of bacon is frozen harder than a block of concrete. We refuse to use the 'defrost' function on our microwave, for fear of accidentally baking the salted meat strips around the edges (that always happens), so today's test will be delayed somewhat.

In the meantime, please enjoy this delicious-sounding recipe from, which makes use of cold-treated bacon in a more delicious way than simply making raw baconsicles.

Maple Miso Bacon Ice Cream Bourbon Root Beer Floats

For the bacon:
6 thick center-cut strips of bacon
½ cup light brown sugar
Place the bacon strips on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper so that the strips do not touch, then cover liberally with brown sugar. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven, let it cool, then chop.

For the ice cream:
12 egg yolks
1 qt. heavy cream
1 vanilla bean – split
¼ cup Turbinado sugar
4 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp white miso
Combine the maple and miso in a small pot and over heat just until you can whisk the two together, about 4 minutes. Place the cream and vanilla in a pot over medium heat until steaming, about 8-10 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the Turbinado sugar and egg yolks in a bowl and beat them like you should have done to the wrestling team back in high school, that time they caught you walking alone at night….

Huh? Oh, yeah, I’m back. When the cream is steaming gradually add ¼ cup to the egg mixture, stir very well. Repeat this with another ¼ cup. This is called tempering the eggs. Add the egg mixture to the pot of cream and stir – don’t stop, even for a second, or you’ll get scrambled eggs – until the mixture begins to thicken, about 3-4 minutes. Strain the mixture into a bowl, then pour the mixture into as many shallow dishes or baking pans as can fit into your freezer and will hold the entire amount. Place this into the freezer for 2-4 hours, until the custard is completely frozen.

Working in batches, use a spoon to scrape thin shavings from the custard and place them in your food processor. Then, pulse the custard in the food processor until it’s creamy. Move the custard from the food processor to a bowl, and repeat with the remaining custard. Finally, fold in the candied bacon bits; place this mixture into an airtight container and return to the freezer to harden, about 2-3 hours.

The custard is now ice cream, so put some Maker’s Mark in a glass, add some root beer, and top with a couple scoops of the ice cream.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Test #175: Bacon and CRESCENT ROLL

The subject
Baking bread is a giant pain in the tukis. Thank heavens that Pillsbury's engaged the services of a small naked white man to cut down on the labor involved. The brainchild of a copywriter from ad giant Leo Burnett, the Doughboy first popped fresh onto the scene in the 1960s, and he's been helping homemakers put piping hot starchy goods on their tables by meeting them halfway down the road to deliciousness ever since. Genius, isn't it, putting about-to-be-bread into a tube that you whack on a counter (ooh, we love that part) before baking in the oven, so that you can claim homemadedness without doing any real work?

Today, we salute you, DB, by wrapping one of your delicious, buttery crescent rolls up with bacon. We also honor you by putting some damned clothes on your pasty body (see pic). Seriously, who wears a toque and neckerchief, but no pants? You got problems, son.

The results
This test had a high probability of awesome from the outset. Sure enough, it rocked. We had been a little worried that the bacon touching the roll might be a wee bit soggy, but those concerns were unfounded--the bacon was chewy, the roll was flaky, and the two together were flat-out awesome. You, dear BDJ reader, should try this at home for your future bacon parties--the only thing that would increase the ass-kicking factor would be to wrap the crescent roll around a Lil' Smokie cocktail weenie, then ensconce in bacon, for the world's most delicious pig in a blanket.

The conclusion: Bacon + crescent roll = wahoo!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Test #174: Bacon and PB/CHEESE CRACKER

The subject
They bear an orange color not typically found in nature--understandable, because they hardly contain anything natural at all. Still, these cellophane-ensconced treats that travel in six-packs are among our favorite lunchtime treats. We still occasionally indulge in them when we encounter them in vending machines, at gas-station convenience marts, and at blood-donation centers, but we've never before bought them from a grocery store--until now (although the Lance Co.'s weird/funny campaign (see picture) might have us buying them more often).

Here, we took one of our Lance peanut butter/cheese crackers and wrapped it in bacon.

The results
Yummy, although the texture (bacon baking left not much crack in the cracker, just mush) left us cold. The cheese flavor was pretty much gone, leaving the peanut butter free to blossom and mingle with the bacon. If only the cracker had remained crisp instead of going completely limp, we might have considered this an eminently repeatable test--as it stands, we can only call this an edible semifailure. Dang.

The conclusion: Bacon + PB/cheese cracker = just okay

Next up: Bacon + crescent roll

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Bacon time TONIGHT

The staff of BDJ Labs will largely be occupied today by a conference in downtown Chicago. Don't you just hate it when work stuff gets in the way of real life?

Anyway, we'll be back later this afternoon to conduct the bacon experiment of the day, and report the glorious results back to you.

Also, head lab tech Jenni S. would like to remind you that her birthday's this Sunday, and that the watch pictured here is available from the fine, fine people at Archie McPhee. Isn't it pretty? She sure thinks it's pretty.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Test #173: Bacon and FRUIT ROLL-UP

The subject

Fruit Roll-Ups (or 'fruit leather' as they're generically called) first landed in BDJ Head Lab Tech Jenni S's lunchbox around second grade, when she was rocking a Dukes of Hazzard box. They provided a snack AND activity in one shot--you could simply eat them, or you could peel 'n play, make food origami, roll into a cylindrical megaphone, or (as artist Rebecca Yaker has done in the picture at left) wear--although the kids in Mrs. Wilhelmi's classroom usually would make simple beanielike hats, and not entire shirts. We weren't THAT crafty. Jenni also confesses to, on more than one occasion, adhering the sticky food to the underside of her desk so she could stealthily snack on them during class if she got peckish.

It's been a while since we've had a Fruit Roll-Up, so we decided to ride down memory lane on a strip of bacon.

The results
The strawberry-flavored roll-up, after bacon baking, completely vanished. This has happened to us before, but we were suprised that there was absolutely no fruit or anything left inside the bacon wrapper--fruit doesn't just disappear, right? Then we read the wrapper--the roll-up contains a wee bit of fruit (pear puree, with no strawberry in sight), but the rest is sugar, oil, and random chemicals. No wonder the disappearing act. There did remain a hint of sugary sweetness inside, but not much. Definitely wouldn't repeat this one--not worth the effort. Although we may seek out fruit leather with actual fruit in it, and see if those taste more like the healthful sheets of fruity fun we remember from back in the day.

The conclusion: Bacon + Fruit Roll-Up = not worth the effort

Next up: Bacon + cheese crackers

Monday, June 15, 2009

Bacon Lube: One step closer to reality

A few months ago, the guys at Bacon Salt pulled an April Fools joke of epic proportions. When they announced the availability of a fabulous new product called Bacon Lube, people from all over the globe expressed excitement, disgust and (especially in the bacon community) pantswetting glee. Tons of brave souls volunteered to serve as beta testers for the magnificent bacon-flavored lovegrease. The only problem--it wasn't real. That is, until now. Witness the real birth of Bacon Lube in this video, in which the founder of I Can Has Cheezburger tries out the first batch. Don't worry--it's a taste test, not an actual, um, performance trial.

Test #172: Bacon and NUTTY BAR

Hey, kids--it's Lunchtime Snax Week! First up: Little Debbie's Nutty Bar...

The subject

Monica Eng's excellent Tribune article on the crapaliciousness of Chicago-area school lunches was gross, but brought back bittersweet memories for many BDJ staffers. Those of us that grew up in the NW 'burbs remember having a whole bunch of evils to choose from--greasy pizzawiches, greasy tacos, greasy burgers and--our personal favorite--a styrofoam tray piled high with greasy french fries. Vegetables? Feh--not at Streamwood High. Save those for those candy-ass New Trier kids.

One popular choice for sweet-toothed high-schoolers back then: a carton of chocolate milk and a twin pack of Little Debbie Nutty Bars. Not only were they sweet and delicious, the whole thing set us back a mere $0.50, which left us more of our meager pocket money to spend on Aqua Net and NKOTB tapes. In order to honor those nutrition-free days of our youth, we decided to wrap one of these peanutty bars in bacon. Well, HALF of one--we couldn't resist taking nibbles of nekkid Nutty Bar first. Sorry.

The results
Tubular--the bacon-wrapped Nutty Bar totally became, like, SO delicious. We marveled that the crisp wafer was only slightly diminished by the heat and grease, so the inner crispiness mirrored the outer bacony crunch nicely. The sweetness increased just a little bit, but the peanut butter's natural earthiness came out--oddly, rather than the chemical-laden snack tasting more fake after bacon-treating, it tasted more natural. Weird. We'd definitely recommend repeating this test at home--although make sure you get some vegetables in your system that day, too.

The conclusion: Bacon + Nutty Bar = totally tubular

Next up: Bacon

Yes, We Can (eat bacon, that is)

In light of Obama's visit to his hometown of Chicago today, you'll be pleased to learn that bacon is the preferred breakfast food of our nation's First Family.

In its live-blog summary of Michelle "Look at These Pythons!" Obama's appearance on the view in June 2008, New York magazine highlighted the First Lady's exclusive report that she regularly has toast, fruit, and bacon for breakfast. She then went on to say about the Obama clan: "We're bacon people."

God Bless America.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bacon Bit: Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven are one of life's true pleasures--the only thing you could do to improve upon the perfection of a fresh-baked morsel is to add bacon--so that's what we did.

Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies

1/2 C butter, softened
1/3 C shortening
1/2 C packed light brown sugar
1/3 C granulated sugar
1 egg
1 T vanilla extract
1 1/4 C flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 C (12-oz pkg) Hershey's Special Dark chips
1 lb bacon

Preheat oven to 350 F. Cook the bacon until crisp; drain, allow to cool, then crumble; set aside. Beat butter and shortening in a large bowl until well blended. Add brown sugar and granulated sugar; beat thoroughly. Add egg and vanilla; beat until well blended. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into butter mixture. Stir in chocolate chips and bacon. Drop by rounded teaspoons (or tablespoons, if you prefer bigger cookies) onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool slightly; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.

Makes about 2 to 3 dozen cookies, depending on how big you made 'em.

By the way, see that book under the cookie plate? You can buy it here.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


The subject
As anyone in the food/snacking industry could tell you, a new or novel flavor pops up, and suddenly it's everywhere. Right now, the flavor-of-the-minute, pomegranate, is in everything from ice cream to jelly beans to sports drinks and liqueur--although the miracle fruit that is the acai berry is threatening to take over.

With chips, a few years ago, it was salt and vinegar--our neighbors from across the pond started it in Britain (except over there, chips are 'crisps'), and it carried over to us Yanks. Seems to have stuck--the finest store in the world (Target--what else?) has a salt/vinegar variety in its house-brand chips. In our opinion, Tyrrell's Potato Chips (based in the UK) has the best; however, they're hard to find seeing as they're relatively new to the States (and the Web--click here to visit their cyber home). Since we ate all the Tyrrell's we had on hand, we decided to go with the locally available Target salt/vinegar chip for our bacon test. And yes, we know the pic at left is Salt 'n Pepa--we're going to have to have another talk with our art department about following instructions.

The result
File this one under "eh." The chips didn't stay very crispy, and we prefer our chips not be soggy disks of limp taters. We did like the hint of tangy flavor that the salt/vinegar flavoring transfered from the chips to the bacon, but it wasn't enough to be interesting. While we dearly love both foods (bacon a little more, obviously), we think these are two great tastes that don't taste all that great together and, therefore, should be kept apart.

The conclusion: Bacon + salt/vinegar potato chips = meh.

Next up: Sunday's Bacon Bit

Friday, June 12, 2009

Test #170: Bacon and LEFTOVER PIZZA

The subject
Pizza hot from the oven (or, if you're a GrubHubber like me, from the cardboard box) is truly heavenly--the crispy-chewy crust, the ooey-gooey cheese, and the topping of your choice melding in a delicious symphony of pipin' hot flavor. Leftover pizza--well, that's significantly less heavenly. Some attempt in vain to resuscitate the once-great taste treat in the microwave, others pop it in the oven to reheat it, and many just give up hope and eat their leftover pizza cold.

We at BDJ Labs thought that if ever there was a foodstuff that cried out for the warm, porky embrace of bacon, it was a forlorn slice of leftover 'za. We wrapped a slice of leftover sausage thick-crust pizza in bacon, popped it into the oven, and awaited its revival.

The results
Success! Like Lazarus, the pizza slice was brought back to glorious life--except we doubt Lazarus would have been this delicious (eew--cannibalism is NOT sexy). The crisp-chewy bacon passed its magical healing properties into the crust, cheese, and toppings, and the pizza was made better than ever. Actually, the bacon-kissed crust might have been our favorite part of the new-and-improved slice--the grease made it crunchy and salty and oh-so-yummy.

The conclusion: Bacon + leftover pizza = mamma mia!

Next up: Bacon + potato chips

These are a few of our favorite things...

If it were not for bacon and alcohol, in our opinion, life would be a lot less worth living. The staff of BDJ Labs has on numerous occasions combined the two, whether they've been paired indirectly (a beer chugged while consuming a hearty bacon cheeseburger) or directly (a strip of bacon used as a swizzle stick for a Bacon Salt-rimmed bloody mary). Now a company has put the two in the same bottle with Bakon vodka. We heartily applaud the company for their bacony inspiration, and their gumption in selling it. However, we find the $30/bottle pricetag a bit stiff. As far as premium vodkas go, it's no Belvedere, but still--we're more of the Stoli/Smirnoff types (and budgets).

Rather than bemoan our lack of money, we took matters into our own hands, and refrigerators, by infusing our own booze with bacon. Going loosely after a recipe by world-famous mixologist Adam Seger of Nacional 27 (with a few tips/tricks taken from the A/V Club's Taste Test), we're in the middle of two different mad-bacon-scientist experiments:
1. Infusing vodka with bacon and apple (we're hoping for tasty baconappletinis)
2. Infusing bourbon with caramelized bacon (mmm, baconhattans)
It hasn't been pretty--the bacon isn't at its loveliest when floating around in liquid, and the fat globules swishing around are yuckworthy. Plus, it turns out the best way to strain that stuff out is to use pantyhose (see pic). However, the piece of apple we snuck out of the vodka gunk after a few days of infusing was delicious and slightly bacony, so we're hopeful.

Today, we're at the last step--freezing to get the last bit of grease to settle, so we can strain it out with another pair of hose--so on Sunday, we'll taste and report back to you. If our test proves successful, we'll share the method with you so you can copy at home. If it tanks, we'll adjust our steps and try again.

Wish us luck...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Too Much Light Makes This Baby Go Blind

God bless the good people at the Bull & Bear for hosting last night's Yelp event and plying us all with free Bud Light. However--and let this be a warning to all you faithful BDJ followers--it turns out there are dire consequences to consuming too much Bud product in one evening. We're not talking hangover, even--we didn't drink that much. In the interest of tact and delicacy, we really can't say too much else, except to say that we really wish we could find the Immodium. Sorry if that's TMI, but we only hope the warning prevents other people from suffering in a similar manner. Drink Pabst, kids.

Anyway, since we're not feeling much like ourselves, we'll save the bacon test for tomorrow--but to make up for the discrepancy, we'll share some exciting news in another post later on today. So, you otter pay attention. HA! Oh, lawdy, we are SO clever.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Test #169, dude! Bacon and MAC 'N CHEESE

The subject
Whether you prefer the homemade variety, easy-cheesy Velveeta kind, or the nuclear-orange boxed kind, odds are you're a mac 'n cheese fan (if you'd like to show your love via USPS, click the photo at left to order that stamp). We at BDJ Labs enjoy the occasional bowl, usually boosting the flavor and/or nutritional value by adding veggies, tuna or (of course) crumbled bacon.

With the economy being in the crapper, this meal option is looking more popular than ever (if you feed your family on naught but mac 'n cheese, you can end up with a grocery bill that's less than $20/person/week). It's also become a bar-menu staple, in the form of breaded/fried triangles of the stuff. Inspired by that, we decided to take a healthy dollop of mac 'n cheese, let it cool, then wrap in bacon for the bakin' treatment.

The result

We figured, since bacon and cheese are almost universally well-paired, that this match would work well...and we were right. In fact, we highly recommend you try the matchup at home, and recommend bacon-baked, rather than fried, mac 'n cheese hunks be put on the menu of every bar and grill in this great land of ours.

The recipe is simple: Whip up your favorite batch of mac 'n cheese, allow it to cool, spray a cookie sheet with nonstick and drop spoonfuls of the stuff onto the sheet, then allow to cool in the fridge for at least a couple hours. Then, take the hunks, wrap 'em in bacon, and bake until crisp and yummylooking.

The conclusion: Bacon + mac 'n cheese = awesomely awesome

Next up: Bacon + plantain chips

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Bacon Bit: Bacon Rangoon

Crab rangoon are one of our favoritest appetizers. If done right, the cheese-filled won ton treats are fluffy and creamy and crispy and eminently yumworthy. If not--well, they're still edible (especially when slathered with enough sweet-and-sour sauce). If cooked properly and filled with bacon, however, they could rank among the world's best foods of all time.

This twist on the Asian-menu staple swaps bacon for the crab (which is usually imitation crab, anyway), and it's ridiculously easy to make. Have you figured out that BDJ Labs is staffed by baconmongers who'd prefer to spend more time eating than working? That's why this recipe appeals to us.

Bacon Rangoon

Won ton wrappers
8 oz. chive and onion soft cream cheese
6 strips bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
Cooking oil

Mix the cream cheese and bacon in a small bowl; drop a small glob (about a teaspoon) of the mixture in the middle of a wrapper, then fold the corners over so they meet in the middle and overlap (seal them by rubbing water on the edges before folding, then pressing tight). Heat the oil in a large pan; drop the rangoon in a few at a time and fry until the skin is golden brown and bubbled. Drain; serve with sweet-and-sour sauce, or a mixture of half BBQ sauce and half honey. Eat.

BREAKING NEWS: BDJ Labs discovers kickass bacon substitute!

This just in: While preparing this week's delicious Bacon Bits recipe (bacon rangoon--stay tuned, it'll be up soon), we made an accidental yet completely brilliant discovery.

We used up all the rangoon filling and found ourselves with a stack of won ton wrappers left, so we fried those. We noticed that, perched upon the paper towels they were draining on, the golden-brown shingles looked...well, nekkid. We had a shaker of Bacon Salt nearby (as we always do), so we sprinkled the won tons liberally; when they cooled, we had a nibble. We knew they would taste good, but we didn't know they would taste this good--fantabulous, even. BDJ Labs associate Rebecca K., a vegetarian (we love her anyway), marveled at the taste and proclaimed the Bacon Salted won tons to be the closed damned thing she's ever had to actual bonafide crisp-cooked bacon (which is the one meat she misses, hence her love of Bacon Salt. We agree--and we think you will, too.

We almost hesitate to call this a recipe--it's so simple, trained monkeys could do it, even if they were drunk. But, in case you're a kitchen newbie, here are the ridiculously easy steps to make Won Ton Fakin' Strips

Oil (cooking, not motor)
Won ton wrappers
Bacon Salt

Heat the oil over medium-high heat. Gently slide the won tons one by one and fry for about 30-45 seconds on each side, just until the edges turn brown. Flip and fry another 15-20 seconds. Remove and drain on a paper towel--don't pat the grease off 'cause they're delicate and will break. Sprinkle liberally (not conservatively) with Bacon Salt. Eat.

Saturday, June 6, 2009


The subject
Jolly Ranchers started out an American original. The Western-named candies originated, not surprisingly, in the West; a Colorado couple sold the hard candies, along with ice cream and other confection in their Ranch Maid stores all over the Denver area. The candies proved to be the real gold mine, so they concentrated on those. The company changed hands a few times, ending up with the Hershey Co. Now, they're made in Canada. God bless America.

Today, kids all over the globe still love Jolly Ranchers--including artist Rebecca Holland, who used tons of melted green-apple Jollies to make the installation you see here (click for details). For this test, we decided to demonstrate our love for 'em, and to deviate from the wrapping method of bacon treatment. Instead, we crushed a bunch of watermelon Jolly Ranchers (our favorite) and sprinkled them on some strips for the last 5 minutes of baking.

The result
It's nice to end Dandy Candy Week on a high note. While we didn't get the dramatic visual we were hoping for (instead of looking all candy-coated and shiny, the strips just, the flavor was a roaring success. The bacon cooked up crisp-chewy, and the candy--rather than setting up and returning to its previous hard-candy state--also took on a chewy consistency, so that the overall strip took on a watermelon/bacon taffy attitude. Yum, yum, yum. We're wishing we'd bought a bigger bag of Jollies, so we could repeat over and over again. Grape might not be super awesome, we suspect, but green apple would ROCK.

The conclusion: Bacon + watermelon Jolly Ranchers = oh, my God, run to the store right now and buy some bacon and a bag of Jolly Ranchers so you can do this IMMEDIATELY--we're not kidding

Next up: a delicious bacon recipe

Friday, June 5, 2009

Test #167: Bacon and STARBURST

The subject
There's nothing exciting or "whee"worthy about Starburst. It doesn't explode in your mouth when you eat it, you can't blow bubbles with it, there's no toy in the package. It's just a simple, yummy fruit candy--that's it. Although, if you have imagination, you can do other things with it. Head BDJ Lab Tech Jenni S., for example, remembers using the pliable confection and using it to craft miniature fruity guns when she saw Beverly Hills Cop (the first R movie she watched in a theater) with her friends Laurel and Pam. The square candies make excellent fences on gingerbread houses. Plus, you can take the colorful wrappers and make stuff (click photo for more info).

Great news: You know how you'd always eat the cherry and strawberry ones first? Now Starburst sells packs of just the reds. Genius. We took a strawberry Starburst and wrapped it in bacon. Voila...

The result
Yum, bacon taffy. We carefully wrapped the square so no sugary ooze would leak out and--for once--it all stayed within the bacon envelope. We baked, then let the nugget cool (rather than biting into bacon-wrapped molten lava). The Starburst remained fundamentally Starbursty (i.e. smooth and chewy), but took on a heaping helping of bacon flavor. The only thing we weren't too sure on--the crisp-cooked bacon seemed a little at odds with the texture. Not by much, just a wee bit. We enjoyed but wouldn't repeat this test.

The conclusion: Bacon + Starburst = not too shabby. Well, sort of shabby

Next up: Bacon + Jolly Rancher

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Test #166: Bacon and LEMONHEAD

The subject
Before super-pretty Evan Dando and his bandmates came forth with their easy-to-swallow alt-rock, to the delight of 90s college students 'cross the land, we had Lemonheads the candy. The good people at Ferrara-Pan have been making these sour little nuggets of deliciousness for nearly half a century. They consist of hard candy surrounded by a soft, bright-yellow coating, and the dual textures makes them light years more interesting to your mouth than dumb old lemon drops. We're a little sad that the other candies in the 'Heads line lost their former fun names (i.e. Grapeheads used to be Alexander the Grape, and Cherryheads used to bear the fun-if-slightly-racist moniker Cherry Chan), but they're still all delicious. They're all delicious, and we dig the jelly-bean-like chewy 'Heads, but the original Lemonheads will still be nearest and dearest to our sweet hearts. What better way to show our love and appreciation to these beloved confections than to wrap one in bacon?

The result
As is common with sugary test subjects, we wrapped the tidbit tightly but didn't completely prevent a wee bit of goo from oozing out between the bacon gaps. However, our new BDJ Labs cooking staff heeded our instructions to keep a close eye, and they reacted at the first signs of oozeage to shift the subject from the puddle to a clean section of the test pan, to prevent a nasty burnup. We learned our lesson from previous tests and waited until the bacon-baked Lemonhead had a chance to cool, so by the time we bit down, the candy had returned to its previous soft-around, hard-inside state, only slightly misshapen. As it turns out, the pairing of lemon and bacon is a fitting one--the flavors mingled a bit, but they stood strong against each other for a nice pas de deux of sweet and savory. However, the textures were just short of awesome. We might, for a Sunday recipe, try sprinkling bacon with crushed lemon candy and baking to see how THAT goes. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, we think Ferrara Pan should come out with BACONheads. Do you agree? Go to their Web site and tell them so.

The conclusion: Bacon + Lemonhead = neato

Next up: Bacon and Starburst

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

BREAKING NEWS: BaconFest Chicago--mark your calendars!

Rejoice, kids--BaconFest Chicago now has an official home and date. Mark your calendars for October 25 and prepare yourself for a pork-filled day of eating, talking, and celebrating the glory that is bacon. The locale: the fabulous Stan Mansion (didn't he play for the 'Hawks back in the 80s?) in Logan Square.

The excitement at this news is so much, we're gonna have to go lie down now. Here, click this and get the rest of the details.

Test #165: Bacon and EXTRA DARK CHOCOLATE

The subject
Dark chocolate used to be a very acquired taste on American shores. The only dark stuff widely available on commercial shelves were the bite-size bars in bags of Hershey's Minatures--and those were usually the last eaten out of Grandma's candy dish. Now, however, dark chocolate is hot--you see it covering old-favorite candy varieties (including Snickers Dark and Milky Way Midnight), and everyone from boutique chocolatiers and giant candy companies is offering bars with high cocoa content. Milk chocolate in the U.S. typically contains 35% to 50% or so cocoa solids, so they're sweeter and creamier. The extra-dark Lindt bar we tested contains 85% cocoa, so the experience of eating it is not too far from munching on nibs right from the cocoa bean--rich and earthy, with just a hint of sweetness.

The result
We expected the chocolate to simply melt and fill the bacon with a gooey sweet core. Instead, it fluffed up considerably and took on a somewhat pastelike consistency with a flavor that more closely resembled espresso beans than chocolate. The combo worked, and we would definitely try it again--although before we do that, we might simply melt some of the Lindt extra-dark we have left over and drizzle it on a strip of cooked bacon.

The conclusion: Bacon + extra-dark chocolate = rich and awesome

Next up: Bacon + Lemonhead

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


We've fired everyone in our baking department after this travesty--apparently they forgot to set a timer and couldn't be bothered to keep an eye on the oven. Witness the travesty at right--we were performing four baking tests in the interest of saving time and gas bill. That backfired bigtime when four days' worth of tests went up in smoke--LITERALLY--when chocolate leaked out and burned around the samples, and no baking staffer was there to rescue the samples from being burned to crisps. We're tearing up at the thought of all the bacon wasted in this horrendous accident--not to mention the Lemonhead, strawberry Starburst, Lindt 85% dark chocolate, and Whitman's coconut square that we'll never get back.

Sorry, folks--we're going to have to regroup and try again tomorrow. We promise we'll have at least five candylicious tests in by week's end.

Dandy Candy Week

A few weeks ago, Head Lab Tech Jenni S. was fortunate enough to have a pass to the All Candy Expo, a tradeshow for the candy/snacks industry. After years of covering the construction industry, she found ACE to be a much happier, sweeter experience--concrete's not nearly as much fun, after all, and you sure can't eat it. She came away from the show with a full 40lbs of samples of the latest, greatest candies and snacks (you can read about it on her GrubHub blog), and she thought many of the treats would make fabulous--or at least interesting--bacon-mates. Starting today, we'll give a selection of sweets the bacon treatment. Stay tuned...

By the way, someone tell these guys they really need to lay off the tanning spray.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Bacon: A Love Story

Note from Head Lab Tech Jenni S:
Since it's primo beach-reading weather, you need to pick up this book. Heather Lauer, of BaconUnwrapped fame, wrote this incredibly informative and insanely entertaining tome on bacon--sharing the history of the world's best meat product, profiles of bacon-headed chefs across the country, and wonderful recipes for all you bacon lovers to try at home (bacon-wrapped tater tots? Ooh, baby. I've already got my copy--I won it from her, and it just arrived last week, autographed and everything--and I'm gonna start reading this afternoon, curled up with a bowlful of bacon and possibly a Bacon Mary at my side.