Cashew Chilli Bacon Chocolate Bark

Last year around this time I made Autumn Chocolate, basically chocolate bark plus some ingredients that had an autumn feel to me. Then a few weeks ago the protagonist of a book I was reading, a coffee shop owner and baker, had the idea of making chocolate bark, and a few ingredients were named in the book: dark chocolate, almonds roasted in butter and sea salt, and a touch of cream. No recipe, though. So I set out to make this, mixed dark and milk chocolate because I don’t like dark chocolate, and added ground dried lavender blossoms. I posted this on my German blog and also mentioned what I would do differently the next time. Because there was definitely going to be a next time.

I wanted to make a thinner version because the first try was too thick, more milk than dark chocolate, and different additional ingredients. I didn’t have to think long to know I wanted chilli and bacon in there, and then decided that cashews would go better with the bacon than almonds. And here we are. Mission accomplished.

This mission didn’t go without a hitch, though. When I made the almond version a week ago, I added 1 tbsp cream, and everything was fine. This time, it turned my molten chocolate into a firm big mass of what looked like dog poo! (Sorry for using this word in a food post 😉 ). I hadn’t taken the bowl of chocolate off the hot water before adding the cream. So I did the whole chocolate melting thing again without the cream. One of my friends was surprised I’d added whole bacon rashers – she thought I’d have crumbled the fried bacon and added it in little bits, which in hindsight would have been a much better idea.

I know a lot of people will go YUCK about the bacon in this. I did a quick survey among my friends, knowing full well the majority would pull a face the moment I’d mention the bacon. So hats off to the less than a handful of my friends who said they’d definitely try it. The taste? If you know there’s bacon in there, you’ll taste it. Otherwise it just gives the chocolate a very salty taste. Which can be good or bad, according to your tastes. So you need to try this to decide for yourself!

Cashew Chilli Bacon Chocolate Bark

400 g milk couverture chocolate
200 g dark couverture chocolate
150 g cashew nuts
ca. 1.5 tsp butter
1 tsp raw cane sugar
1 – 2 small red chillies, finely chopped
9 thin bacon rashers

Fry the bacon rashers in a non-stick frying pan without oil. When they’re done, remove rashers from pan, use kitchen roll to soak up the liquid fat produced by the bacon. Put pan back on stove, add 1 tsp butter, 1 tsp cane sugar, and when the sugar starts to melt, add the cashews. Stir well so that all cashew nuts have made contact with the sugar. The nuts will likely brown due to the remaining bacon fat but that’s OK. With a slotted spoon, take out the cashews and move to a shallow (baking) tray lined with baking parchment, and leave to cool.

Over a bain-marie, melt the chocolate, then add the finely chopped chillies. [I shredded mine in a mini blender, then tried to get the red bits only into the chocolate.]

You can either arrange the bacon rashers over the cashews, or – as I would do next time – crumble the bacon over and/or mix into the cashews. Then pour over the molten chocolate, trying to pour evenly so that the nuts are covered and the chocolate has more or less the same thickness all over once it hardens. Leave to cool completely, then store in fridge for a few hours to harden through.

Once the chocolate has hardened, break off pieces, wrap in white baking parchment, and seal with anything pretty you have around the house – cooking string, masking tape, gift ribbon, and maybe a homemade gift tag.