What: Chocolate Bacon Confections:
- Dark Chocolate Hickory Smoked Bacon Strips $2 each
- Bacon Pretzel Wands $1.50 each
- HOGS Bacon Infused Caramels $2 each
- Hulless Caramel Corn with Bacon $7 per bag
- Burtles $4 each
Where: River Forest Chocolates, 7577 Lake St, River Forest
How: Some people have a sweet tooth. I have several. So imagine the joy I felt when Donna Slepicka, owner of River Forest Chocolates, said she would try making Bacon Caramels after I got back from Baconfest Chicago and brought one to her. But she didn't stop there! I had caused a snowball effect, and you, my fellow foodies, get to reap the benefits.
Why: You may have heard about bacon making its entrance into the dessert world as Chocolate Covered Bacon Strips, and River Forest Chocolates has them. Slepicka dips thick cut hickory smoked uncured bacon into rich, pure, dark chocolate. If you're looking to start your culinary exploration of bacon chocolates with a more familiar texture, try her Bacon Pretzel Wands -- pretzels dipped in chocolate then rolled in bits of the hickory bacon.
The HOGS Bacon Infused Caramels are creamy with tiny pieces of bacon in them and enrobed in rich, 68 percent dark chocolate. Slepicka uses Swiss Couverture Bittersweet Chocolate for her creations, which have anywhere from 32 to 39 percent cocoa butter. She tempers it herself, ensuring it has a beautiful sheen and firm snap when broken. The chocolate and bacon flavors tame down the caramel, which some might consider cloyingly sweet by itself.
She also added bacon to one of her most popular items, the Hulless Caramel Corn. It is made with a variety of popcorn with a smaller kernel that has a more tender hull. It breaks up into tiny pieces when popped, so it won't get stuck in your teeth. Plus, hulless popcorn also has the reputation of being easier to digest. A comforting roasty flavor lingers after each bite, and small chunks of bacon attached to some of the crunchy popcorn add a surprise hint of salt.
She also invented Burtles: Turtles made with bacon. Gooey caramel and salted pecans are a well-known pair, but the bacon adds another texture element in addition to the salty smokiness we all love. There is more chocolate and less caramel in the Burtles than in the HOGS, which makes for a delectable, luxurious experience.
Slepicka said she enjoyed experimenting with bacon as a new medium. She loves all aspects of her job, from the creative expression to the presentation, and her thoughtfulness shines through in the beauty of every confection she makes.
Get in on the bacon conversation and you could win $25*!
Plus, your answers could be published in an upcoming issue of Wednesday Journal!
Alicia wants to know:
What's your favorite local dish made with bacon or pork belly?
Give your answer in the comments section of this post, or any of the Bacon Quest posts on ONE of our sites:
One winner will be chosen at random for each of the three websites. Three winners selected total. Winners comments, and some others, will be published in an upcoming issue of our newspaper. Winners will be contacted at the email used to make the comment. Limit one entry per person. Please only answer on ONE of the three sites.
*Prize is a $25 gift certificate to Downtown Oak Park that can be used at over 75 businesses.
CALLING ALL RESTAURANTS!
Does your restaurant have a bacon or pork belly dish you think could make the cut for Bacon Quest? Tell Alicia and she might consider stopping by on her next adventure!
Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org