A Bacon Story To Make You 'Melt'
When it comes to making holiday treats, I have a guarantee. Everything is “So homely that you know it’s homemade.”
This pre-emptive statement came in handy recently when I experienced my first melted chocolate failure. Yes, failure. The chocolate would. Not. Melt.
This was something I’d done a hundred times before. I put white chocolate chips in a glass bowl, heated them in the microwave according to the directions on the bag, removed the chips, and stirred with a wooden spoon.
Instantly, the mixture turned the consistency of mashed potatoes. I repeated the steps but got the same result. The third attempt was worse: Now the layer of glop in the bottom of the bowl began to turn brown and burn.
Undaunted, I went old-school and grabbed the double-boiler. As the water heated, I stirred the chocolate gently, then vigorously. I couldn’t believe it. The stupid chocolate still would not melt. I removed it from the heat. Remembering an old cook’s trick, I poured in a spoonful of oil and stirred one last time. Finally, the consistency was spreadable. I proceeded with my recipe for candy bites.
For the first batch, I used pretzels for a salty-sweet flavor combination on half, and dried cranberries for tartness on the other half. People liked them a lot, or at least they said they did.
Still miffed by the melting mystery, I called the Nestlé Toll House toll-free number for insight. Right away, the agent diagnosed the problem: the chocolate had “seized” due to residual moisture in the wooden spoon I’d washed in the dishwasher. Using metal was the only way to guarantee it wouldn’t happen again.
That meant making another batch, and here is where the bacon comes in. This time the chocolate behaved, although it seemed to fight back a bit, maybe sensing I was a little timid from the last episode. To show it who was boss – with a metal spoon this time! – I grabbed some bacon bits and pressed them into some of the cranberry bites. They looked quite colorful and reminded me of a favorite holiday breakfast: cranberry muffins and maple-cured bacon. Homemade and homely, guaranteed.
Home(l)y Chocolate Pretzel-Cranberry-or-Bacon Bites
One bag of white, milk, or dark chocolate chips (most are about 12 oz.)
About 1/3 cup pretzel sticks, broken into pieces 1” to 1-1/2” long
About 1/3 cup dried cranberries, chopped
About 1/4 cups bacon bits, chopped (can use soy/vegan bacon bits if desired)
Any combination of above toppings or others as desired
Line two cookie sheets with waxed paper. Set aside.
Heat the chips following the directions on the bag until they are just melted and you can stir them smoothly with a metal spoon. Do not use a wooden spoon because it can retain moisture that will make the chocolate “seize.” If this occurs, stir in a few drops of unflavored cooking oil to restore texture.
Drop the chocolate by spoonfuls onto the cookie sheets. If it spreads too thinly, allow it to cool a bit before resuming. Leave at least 1” between them. Make all the drops, then take a few pieces of the toppings and press them into each. Keep toppings separate or combine as desired.
Cool at room temperature or refrigerate to harden them faster. Peel each one from the paper and store in a covered container. Makes about 30.