Milk Chocolate Bacon Bourbon Cake Ball

Bacon has found its footing in desserts recently, particularly when paired with chocolate. It seems to be part of the salty-sweet craze and works quite nicely with a hit of bourbon when combined with chocolate cake and a milk chocolate ganache. I used Four Roses Single Barrel bourbon while developing the recipe. Its long finish was perfect when blended with the other two primary flavors. This one is for the adventurous.

Makes about 56 golf ball–size balls

12 slices meaty bacon

1 batch Super-Easy Chocolate Cake (pages 000), baked, cooled, and crumbled

1/4 cup bourbon

1/2 batch Milk Chocolate Ganache (page 000), at room temperature, ready to use (should be soft and spreadable)

1 3/4 pounds milk chocolate, such as Callebaut or Valrhona Jivara, finely chopped

Coarse salt, for sprinkling (see the Note)

56 miniature fluted paper cups (optional)

1. Cook the bacon until crisp and drain on paper towels to remove excess fat. Let cool completely and then crumble into very small pieces.

2. Place the crumbled cake in a wide bowl (the more surface area, the better). Drizzle the bourbon over the cake crumbs, tossing the cake as you go. Your aim is to distribute the liquid as evenly as possible. Keep pouring and tossing until all of the liquid is absorbed. Toss in the bacon pieces, then add 3/4 cup of the ganache. Test by compressing and tasting and add more ganache only if needed for flavor and moisture. Roll into golf ball–size cake balls. Refrigerate until firm. This can be done 1 day ahead; store in an airtight container once they are firm.

3. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Melt the chocolate in the microwave or a double boiler. Dip the balls one at a time in the chocolate, encouraging any excess chocolate to drip back into the container. Place, evenly spaced, on the prepared pans. Sprinkle a few grains of salt on top of each cake ball while the chocolate is still wet. Refrigerate briefly until the chocolate is set. Trim the bottoms, if needed. Place each cake ball in a paper cup, if desired. Place in a single layer in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Note: There is a specialty product called Bacon Salt made by J&D Foods (see Resources, page 000) that is, believe it or not, fat free, kosher, and vegetarian—and yet tastes like bacon! It is great used instead of the coarse salt for the top of these cake balls.