Bacon Pralines

I know, I know. It’s gimmicky. Been done to death. Horribly unhealthy, etc. And I’m really not one to indiscriminately add bacon to things — especially sweets — but it’s something I always suspected might be worth the indulgence, so I’m not sorry for this praline adulteration. Not one bit.

I used my dad’s recipe for pralines and simply swapped out a portion of the pecans for an equal amount of chopped, cooked bacon. The results were pretty much what you’d expect. But if you’re a purist, you can’t go wrong with the original recipe. Just serve a little bacon on the side.

Find Darcie’s post here, and let us know what you think if you decide to try these!

For a roundup of all of our Advent Calendar posts for the year, click here.
Darcie can be found at her website, Gourmet Creative and on Instagram at @darcie_hunter.
Find me on Instagram at @amyrothphoto, Pinterest at @amyrothphoto and my portfolio at (you guessed it) Amy Roth Photo.

Bacon Pralines

Allergy Milk, Tree Nuts
Meal type Dessert, Snack
Misc Child Friendly
If you're looking for a dessert that's a little bit different, these bacon pralines will fit the bill. Deliciously.


  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 stick butter
  • 16 Large marshmallows
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 1/2 cup pecan halves (toasted)
  • 1/2 cup cooked bacon (finely chopped)


If you'd prefer a regular praline to one loaded with bacon, simply remove the bacon and add another 1/2 cup of toasted pecan halves to the recipe, then sprinkle pralines with Maldon or other finishing salt just after you've spooned them onto the surface to cool.


Prepare your surface by covering a heat-safe area of your counter or a table with freezer paper. Spray paper well with cooking spray.
Cook sugar, butter, marshmallows, and milk over medium heat, stirring constantly until all ingredients are melted, then add pecans and bacon. Cook, stirring constantly, to soft ball stage, 240° F. Remove pot from burner, add vanilla extract and beat mixture vigorously with a spoon until it begins to thicken. This will ensure the pralines don't spread too much.
Drop mixture by tablespoon or two onto greased freezer paper. Cool to room temperature before serving.


Jerk Bacon Jam Bites

BACON JAM. I mean, c’mon!

I first shared the glory of bacon jam in a blog post five years ago, where I used it in all sorts of culinarily sinful ways. (Go on, check it out. I’ll wait.) I’d lightly adapted that recipe from the one at Stephanie Meyer’s brilliant Fresh Tart blog, but wanted to take it even further for this Advent Calendar. Inspired by Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster Cookbook (which would make an incredible Christmas present, fwiw) and his recipe for Jerk Bacon — which I served at Thanksgiving to rave reviews  — I added some warming jerk spices and doubled the cayenne pepper for this tongue-tingling version.

While no one would blame you for just eating it straight out of the jar, that presentation doesn’t lend itself to a party setting, so Darcie and I worked up some pretty little phyllo wedges to go with it. What was the verdict? I had to give most of the jam away because it was that good and I have that little self-control around it. So, I’d say it was a success all around.

Let us know what you think when (not if) you try it, especially if you come up with a new vehicle for getting it into your belly. Find Darcie’s post here.

Jerk Bacon Jam | Amy Roth Photo

For a roundup of all of our Advent Calendar posts for the year, click here.
Darcie can be found at her website, Gourmet Creative and on Instagram at @darcie_hunter.
Find me on Instagram at @amyrothphoto, Pinterest at @amyrothphoto and my portfolio at (you guessed it) Amy Roth Photo.

Jerk Bacon Jam Bites

Bacon jam + jerk spices + phyllo wedges make an addictive party snack.


Jerk Bacon Jam

  • 1 1/2lb bacon (sliced into 1-inch pieces)
  • 2 yellow onions (peeled and thinly sliced)
  • 4 cloves garlic (peeled and smashed)
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar (packed)
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 3/4 cups very strong brewed black coffee
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (adjust amount to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds (toasted and ground)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 pinch ground cardamom

Jerk Bacon Jam (Optional)

  • 1oz bourbon

Phyllo Wedges

  • 1 box frozen phyllo dough
  • 1/2 stick butter (melted)


Adjust the amount of cayenne pepper to your taste. I found this amount left me with a pleasant tingle on my tongue, but your mileage may vary. Recipe is adapted from the original at Fresh Tart.


Jerk Bacon Jam
Cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When bacon is browned, use a slotted spoon to transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Drain all but 2 tablespoons of drippings from the pan.
Place Dutch oven back on the burner and adjust heat to medium. Stir in the onions and garlic and saute until onions are mostly translucent, about 10 minutes. Deglaze with bourbon. Stir in the bacon and remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.
Turn heat to low and simmer, uncovered, until onions are meltingly soft and the liquid is thick and syrupy, 30-40 minutes. If mixture starts to become dry, add up to 1/4 cup of water.
Transfer the bacon and onions to a food processor and pulse several times or until the bacon jam is a spreadable consistency. Scrape into a jar or container with a tight-fitting lid. Store in the refrigerator for up to one month.
Phyllo wedges
Remove phyllo from box, keeping it wrapped in its plastic bag, and thaw at room temperature for about two hours.
Phyllo Wedges
Preheat oven to 350°F. Carefully unroll phyllo sheets onto a flat, dry surface. Cover phyllo with plastic wrap, then a slightly damp towel to prevent it from drying out.
Remove one phyllo sheet from the package, lay it flat on baking sheet, then brush with butter. Top this layer with another phyllo sheet and repeat the buttering and layering process until you have 10 sheets of phyllo stacked together. Brush the top with butter.
Cut the stack into wedges and separate them slightly. Bake at 350°F for 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown.
Cool wedges to room temperature, arrange on a platter and serve with Jerk Bacon Jam on the side.

Sinful. Just… full of sin

I just looked over my last few posts and realized they’re all about capital-C Comfort foods. Thick, rich chocolate pudding, mascarpone cream, spicy soup… while I’m on a roll, let’s add one more to the list, shall we?

Bacon Jam — a wonderful motivator, I’ve found.

As a reason for getting out of bed: Spread it on toast, top it with a perfectly (or not) poached egg for a sunny, sweet and savory start to the day.

with bacon jam and avocado

It’ll get you into the kitchen instead of grabbing a quick bite. Fast food pales in comparison to this grilled cheese sandwich: Bacon jam blanketed in cheddar cheese and studded with avocado between two slices of buttered (and I mean buttered) bread, then grilled till the bread crunches at the first bite while the filling simply yields itself.

bacon jam

It’s also a reason to, I dunno, clean the fridge maybe? If you already happened to be in there, and the jar was staring you in the face and no one’s watching you could take a spoonful straight from the jar. (Not that I’d ever dream of doing such a thing.)

I’m certain there are other, more diabolical motivational uses for this, but I’ll have to work on them. As it is, I’m mostly motivated to make another batch since I gave away over half. But four out of four carnivores agree; this stuff is perfection.

Thanks to Stephanie, for posting about this at Fresh Tart.

grilled cheese with bacon jam & avocado

grilled cheese with bacon jam & avocado

recipe after the jump

Continue reading “Sinful. Just… full of sin”

Porky pasta

Last night’s meal came courtesy of odds & ends from our kitchen and my deep and abiding love of tomatoes. With the abundance of lycopene in my system at any given time, it’s a real shame I don’t have a prostate, for if I did, it would surely be the most beauteous specimen in all the land. Neither showy nor unapproachable, but a humble and gracious gland, welcoming pilgrims from distant lands spurred to their journey by the appearance of the long-foretold wonder.

Or it would at least win many blue ribbons at county fairs.

But no, I’m just a girl, so my husband has to reap the benefits of my obsession, though our driveway isn’t exactly flooded with pilgrims or civic-minded ribbon-awarders, now that I think about it.

The odds & ends worked their way into a meal by virtue of me having no clue what to cook for dinner and remembering a couple strips of bacon, a few slices of sopressata and some onion hanging out in the fridge, the remnants of whole canned tomatoes I stuck in the freezer a few weeks ago, and a little bowtie pasta that looked pretty lonely in the pantry. Some garlic cloves demanded admittance to the party (as they always seem to do, the pushy little buggers) and hot pepper paste arrived masked as tomato paste and barged in before I realized what happened.

No, really — why is the packaging so similar between tubes of tomato and hot pepper paste? I didn’t realize anything was wrong until I’d put about a tablespoon of it into the pan and noticed it wasn’t the right color, consistency, or smell, so I looked at the tube to make sure it hadn’t expired and realized my mistake. Well, my screw-up turned out to be a stroke of luck. The paste added a real zing to the sauce I wouldn’t have gotten from pepper flakes alone, so now I have another ingredient in my arsenal I wouldn’t have if I’d been paying attention.

This wasn’t the typically meat-free meal I like to make on weeknights, but if I eat vegequarian 90% of the time, I don’t mind treating myself every now and then; it’s the only way to stay sane. And let’s face it, pork is the penultimate treat.

The ultimate? Tomatoes, of course.

Cocoa van


I’ve been kicking around the idea of making a coq au vin for a while now. But it’s a two-day process, according to the Les Halles Cookbook, and I just never remembered to start it a full day before I planned to serve it. But finally, this weekend, I got my act together.

Do you have the Les Halles Cookbook? No? Quel dommage! It was one of the better Christmas presents I got two years ago. Not only do you have Anthony Bourdain guiding you through recipes with his no-bullshit banter, but the recipes themselves are wonderful. And the design is gorgeous. I mean, really, a lot of thought was put into this book from start to finish. The butcher paper cover (hardcover ed.), the plain, serviceable, but elegant fonts, and the pictures announce exactly what you’ll get when you start reading — a no-nonsense approach to cooking some damned fine no-nonsense food.


So I started with the easy part — marinating the chicken and vegetables in red wine overnight. Even though I was warned right there in the recipe that this dish would start off pretty nasty, I didn’t think what 24 hours in red wine would really do to a whole chicken, and found myself unprepared for the horror that emerged from the fridge 24 hours later:


You know, I’ve been a carnivore all my life, but until today, I’ve never once thought of my food as a corpse. I may submit that photo to David Fincher for consideration in his next opening credits.

Soldiering on, I browned the wine-bloated chicken corpse in butter and olive oil, and the promised alchemy soon took place; it really did result in something magical, considering the — ahem — humble beginnings. But when a recipe calls for an artery-clogging amount of butter and 1/4 lb. of bacon, magic is bound to happen.

All in all, it was good. Satisfying. Tasty, even. And I got a real feeling of accomplishment just from seeing it through to the end. But it isn’t something I’ll be making again soon — while good enough for a Sunday lunch, it just didn’t seem to be worth the effort.


Oh, if you ever decide to make this, take his advice and clean as you go along. It’s something I do anyway, but you’ll appreciate tackling the dishes before they grow into a mountain in the sink.

Making the most of what we have

The idea of throwing out food is anathema to those of us who grew up in families that maybe didn’t have so much money. My aunts can squeeze a nickel till it bleeds, my dad would rather cut off his left hand than let anything wither in his garden, and my grandma always saved her cooking oil (and bacon grease, natch) because of the starving kids in China. The plight of malnourished Indian children weighed more heavily on my other grandma’s conscience, so she recycled the bread crusts I demanded cut from my sandwiches into her bread pudding. My family was green before green was cool, or something.

So when I noticed a bunch of arugula wilting in the crisper drawer, a container of ricotta’s expiration date fast approaching, and a big hunk of pancetta taunting me from it’s perch, I knew something had to be done. After eating tomatoes every single day for almost a week, a sauce wasn’t at the top of my list, so I threw together an arugula and nectarine salad topped with spicy caramelized pancetta. And yes, in case you were wondering, caramelized pancetta is just as good as you imagined.


The ricotta I felt was best saved for dessert, specifically for a scrumptious-sounding recipe for chocolate and ricotta cupcakes I found while perusing Orangette last week. Since we had all of the ingredients on hand, Gil got to work sifting and mixing. (He’s adding to his repertoire, which is scrambled eggs, chocolate chip cookies, and now these cupcakes.) Though there was a distinct lack of swirl in the cupcakes (for which I take full responsibility, as I was the designated swirler), they were delicious enough to tempt the cupcake gnome from his hiding place. I caught a glimpse of him running away and shaking his fist, a flurry of crumbs wafting to the ground. He seemed to approve of my thrifty ways, if the liner was any indication:


recipe after the jump

Continue reading “Making the most of what we have”

It isn’t always about bread pudding


With lots of time to cook on weekends, I like to skip the healthy yogurt of my weekday mornings and indulge a little. During summer, my go-to brunch moves from bread pudding to more seasonal fare — roasted tomatoes and asparagus with soft scrambled eggs. No one respects the egg more than a French chef, so I pulled my old, battered copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking from the bookshelf to make sure I’d get them right. Ordinarily, I’d just get to cooking without consulting a cookbook, but if you’ve ever had French-style scrambled eggs, you know how important it is to cook them just so — the end result should be soft, creamy, curds custardy in texture and positively rich with butter.

Turns out, it’s really quite a simple recipe. You start with a cold pan and cook over very low heat while stirring constantly, which is basically the exact opposite of how I usually make scrambled eggs. But the extra effort is definitely worth it.

As Julia would say, “Bon appetit!”

recipe after the jump

Continue reading “It isn’t always about bread pudding”

A heavenly brunch


Sunday brunch has long been my favorite meal of the week. It’s a huge deal in New Orleans, and I’d always indulge whenever I found myself there after a long night of doing what college kids do on Saturday night. (No, never Bourbon Street — we had some standards.) Once I moved to the working world after grad school, my cravings went unsatisfied; I was the hardest-working woman in St. Louis on Sundays, you see. After my gig as minister of music at a local church, I went straight to my day job for a double shift of putting the catalog to bed for the week. Saturday brunches just weren’t the same, somehow, so I sucked it up until I moved to NY and got to enjoy the boozy brunches offered all over the city.

Sadly, there aren’t any places in Ringwood for a proper brunch, so I’m left to my own devices when the mood strikes. And strike it did this very morning. So, inspired by a Mario Batali recipe, I decided to make use of lovely hen of the woods mushrooms from Trader Joe’s and tomatoes from my friend Mew’s garden (lucky duck, her yard gets plenty of sunshine and no deer at all).


I didn’t want the typical scrambled/fried/poached egg and bacon axis — though a side of bacon was a no-brainer — and remembered a baked egg recipe from Orangette I’d been meaning to try. (Btw, she’s getting married today — let’s all send good thoughts her way!) Apart from my ramekins being too small (which later spelled disaster), it seemed like an easy enough recipe to attempt in my morning-addled state.

I washed the mixing bowl thoroughly to remove any speck of grease and set the whites to whipping. As the stand mixer was doing its thing, I grated the cheese and greased the ramekins. It all went smoothly, though I made a couple of extras just in case my previous bad luck with meringues/soufflés continued.


While a couple of yolks went Frank Lee Morris on me, the other two remained where they should’ve and put a fine spin on the typical eggy brunch dish. The yolks were blanketed with creme fraiche and nestled into delicate clouds of cheese with the faintest crunch on the edges. Yummmmmm…

Despite the rich cream, this was the most ephemeral of brunch dishes and one I’ll definitely try again, only next time with larger ramekins.

recipes after the jump

Continue reading “A heavenly brunch”