Sunday, February 3, 2013

Bacon Stout Chocolate Cheesecake

It's Game Day!!  Yay!!!!

Okay, if you know me, you know that to say I am not really into football is a huge understatement.  There are a host of things I'd rather do - go to the dentist, stand in line at Costco, sit in traffic.... But, football is probably Chris's second true love in life, and for me, it is definitely a reason to make something delicious!  And when I found this recipe, I knew that I would be saving it for Super Bowl Sunday.

So, let's get down to business.  Do you like bacon?  Of course you do, it's delicious!  Do you like chocolate?  If you're answer is no, you probably won't enjoy this blog much.  Do you like beer, especially stout?  Definitely not at the top of my favorite list of things to drink, BUT it goes perfectly with the dark chocolate and bacon in this recipe.  And I know what you may be thinking... mix bacon and chocolate and beer, bake it and serve it for dessert?


These flavors complement each other so beautifully.  Even if you're not a cheesecake person (you know who you are), you would be doing yourself quite the flavor injustice if you passed on this.  I will warn you that this recipe is a little extra effort, but it is soooooo worth it.

Here is the recipe, slightly adapted:

Bacon Stout Chocolate Cheesecake

For the beer-candied bacon:

1 pound bacon
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons oatmeal stout

For the crust:

4 graham cracker sheets
1 cup whole pretzels
2 tablespoons sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the filling:

7 oz dark chocolate, 60% (I used Ghirardelli bittersweet)
1 cup stout (leftover from above)
3 (8) oz packages cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 tablespoons flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
3/4 cup beer-candied bacon

For the chocolate ganache topping:

1 cup heavy cream
8 oz chocolate, chopped (I used a mix of bittersweet and milk)
the rest of your beer-candied bacon for garnish

To make the beer-candied bacon:
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.  Whisk the brown sugar and beer together until they are well combined.  It will be syrupy.  Line a large baking pan (like a jelly roll pan, something with sides, not a cookie sheet) with aluminum foil.  Place an oven-safe cooling rack on top, and lay the strips of bacon on it.  You may have to overlap a few pieces, but that's okay.  Cook the bacon for 10 minutes, and then remove it from the oven.  Use a pastry brush to coat one side of the bacon with the stout-sugar mixture, flip the pieces over and repeat.  Return the pan to the oven for 10 minutes.  Repeat until you have used all of your syrup.  (I only had to do it one more time).  Once finished, set the bacon aside to cool completely.

To make the crust:
Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch spring form pan.  Pulse the graham crackers, pretzels, and sugar in a food processor until you have a finely-ground crumb mixture.  Stir in the melted butter until all of the crumbs are nicely coated.  It will look like wet sand.  Resist the urge to eat this, even though its delicious!!!  Press the mixture into the pan and set aside.

To make the filling:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Arrange your oven racks so that you can use the middle and lower positions.  Combine the dark chocolate and stout in a saucepan over medium heat, whisking until the chocolate has melted.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.  In a mixing bowl, or your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese and sugar until its nice and smooth.  Add the eggs, scraping down the bowl periodically, and beat until well combined.  Add the chocolate-stout mixture, followed by the flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and beer-candied bacon.  Mix on low until just incorporated.  Pour the mixture over the crust.  Before you put the cheesecake in the oven, fill a baking pan with water and place it on the lowest rack in the oven.  Add your cheesecake to the center rack and bake until the center of your cheesecake is set and no longer jiggles.  For me, this took about an hour and a half.  Start checking yours around 50 minutes.  Once done, remove from the oven and set aside to cool completely.

To make the chocolate ganache:
Bring heavy cream to a boil, remove from heat and add chocolate.  Leave it to sit for 5 minutes, then whisk until smooth.  Let it cool slightly and then cover your cheesecake with it (or with what's left after you and your 21-month-old sample it fondue-style with bread).

Finally, top evenly with the beer-candied bacon and you're done!

This recipe was definitely a winner.  I expected it to be overwhelmingly rich, but it actually has a nice balance.  Its the kind of dangerous dessert that you could keep going back for "just one bite", and before you know it, you've eaten half the or cheesecake.... or the whole thing.  Be warned!

Now, this deliciousness is not the only bite of yum that I made today.  For lunch, we had the best "oven-fried" chicken that I have made... you'll see that recipe later this week, because it is definitely a repeater.

Enjoy, and balance this out with some quality workouts this week!

Original recipe from Tide and Thyme

Ganache recipe adapted from Martha Stewart