Annually, Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker and TuttiFoodie host The Chocolate Adventure Contest. The challenge is to create a recipe using Scharffen Berger Chocolate and 1 of 12 “adventure ingredients.” This year’s selections were bourbon; turbinado sugar; pomegranate; hibiscus; extra virgin olive oil; peppercorns; pandan leaf or pandan leaf extract; coconut milk, coconut cream, coconut butter or coconut oil; oat flour; carrot; black or white sesame seeds; fresh croutons or crostini. The theme this year was “bars.”
They call it The Chocolate Adventure but I call it My Chocolate Nightmare. This contest is on my bucket list and I cannot seem to crack it. But this year was going to be different. I could feel it. I had so many ideas going on in my head and entered 3 recipes. This was my favorite and I thought it was the one. This year it was going to be the year of the s’mores. This year it was going to be Bacon Kissed Sinful S’Mores (with Graham Cracker Shortbread, Black Pepper-Bourbon Chocolate Ganache, Candied Peppered-Bacon, and Cocoa Kissed Marshmallow Cream) that was going to win.
Hash-tag: Nailed It!
Alas, no. It was not my year. Again. But I’ll keep trying because I love the challenge of using ingredients that I would never think to use with chocolate. It really does force me to think outside the box and I think in turn, it makes me a better cook. The winning recipes were crazy-creative as usual and my spatula is raised to each and everyone one of those creative cooks.
Maybe next year will be my year.
- Candied Peppered-Bacon
- ¼ cup turbinado sugar
- 2 teaspoons coarsely ground black peppercorns
- 7 slices bacon, center-cut (not thick cut), divided use
- Graham Cracker Shortbread Crust
- 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
- ⅔ cup all-purpose unbleached flour
- ⅓ cup oat flour
- ½ cup turbinado sugar
- 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon table salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1½ sticks) cut into ½-inch cubes, chilled
- Black Pepper-Bourbon Chocolate Ganache
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon coarsely ground black peppercorns
- 9-ounces Scharffen Berger Semisweet Chocolate Baking Chunks (62%)
- 3-ounces Scharffen Berger Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Chunks (70%)
- 3 tablespoons bourbon (preferably small batch Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey)
- ⅛ teaspoon very finely ground black peppercorns
- Cocoa Kissed Marshmallow Cream
- ¼ cup cold water
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon Scharffen Berger Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (100%)
- 1 teaspoon bourbon (preferably small batch Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey)
- 2 large egg whites
- ¾ cup broken graham cracker pieces
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Prepare the candied bacon: Line a large (12-inch x 17-inch) baking pan with aluminum foil. Place a metal cooling rack over the foil lined baking pan; set aside. In a small bowl, mix together the sugar and pepper and sprinkle on a dinner plate. Press the bacon in the sugar mixture coating both sides and place on prepared pan; sprinkle with any remaining sugar mixture. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until brown and crispy. When done, remove from oven to cool.
- Prepare the shortbread: Line a 9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil (leave excess foil on sides to make removal of bars easier); spray foil with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. To the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade, add the graham cracker crumbs, all-purpose and oat flours, turbinado and brown sugars, salt, and cinnamon. Pulse to combine. Scatter butter pieces over flour mixture and pulse until the mixture resembles damp sand, about 20 1-second pulses. Finely chop 4 slices of the cooked and cooled bacon. Add bacon to the shortbread mixture and pulse to incorporate, about 4 1-second pulses. Transfer mixture to prepared pan and use hands to firmly press crumbs into bottom pan. Bake 20-25 or until light golden brown. (Note: Mixture will appear soft but will set up as it cools). Place on cooling rack to cool completely, about 1 hour.
- Prepare the ganache: Whisk together the cream and coarsely ground pepper in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high to bring to a boil, about 30-45 seconds. Let steep for 30 minutes. Into a small bowl, strain the cream through cheesecloth to remove peppercorns; discard solids. Place the semisweet and bittersweet chocolate chunks, infused cream, bourbon, and finely ground pepper in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high in 30-second increments until cream boils once again, about 30-45 seconds. Whisk until smooth, pour mixture over cooled shortbread, and smooth with an offset spatula.
- Prepare the marshmallow cream: Bring a saucepan of water to a simmer over medium-high heat. In a medium glass bowl, mix together the water, corn syrup, cocoa powder, bourbon until blended. Add the egg whites to the mixture and whisk to combine. Set the bowl on saucepan of simmering water and continue to whisk until the mixture reaches 160 degrees F. Remove from heat and continue to whisk until stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes. (Note: Alternately use whisk attachment of an electric mixer).
- Assemble: Chop or break remaining bacon slices into ¼-inch pieces; set aside. Scatter bacon and graham cracker pieces over warm chocolate. Place in refrigerator to set up, about 30 minutes. Cut into 4 rows by 4 rows to make 16 squares. Drop marshmallow cream by spoonfuls atop or along side squares and use a culinary torch, lightly toast marshmallow and warm tops of squares (alternately, place under broiler).