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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Candied Bacon and Apple Blue Cheese Canapés

A canapé, you ask?  A yummy appetizer consisting of a piece of bread, toast, or cracker topped with a savory spread... and in this case, we have pungent blue cheese giving us a savory bite mellowed out with cream cheese, crispy crackers that we made (using a shortcut of course), the apples are crunchy, juicy, sweet and slightly sour; and the bacon....(OH, the bacon!)... is smoky, sweet AND spicy!  

I remember the first time my mother made blue cheese dressing when I was a young girl.  The smell smacked me straight in the face when I walked into the kitchen.  Somehow, using her motherly ways, she convinced me to give it a try.  I don't quite remember my first impression (not like the smell), but I have been seriously hooked ever since.  

Not a blue cheese fan?  Well give it a try!  ... or at the very least, make some candied bacon!  OH MY GOODNESS!  I'll admit, this is more of a grown-up appetizer, unlike some of the more kid-friendly things that we make.  But I did have my 13 year old coming back for more.  That's a start.  

Still not a blue cheese fan?  You could mix the cream cheese with some herbs as a base - maybe chives and garlic?  Anyway... you know how I feel about these things.  It's a concept.  Feel free to add, delete, and change however you desire.  The point for us on that rainy summer afternoon was to spend some quality time together doing something other than watching TV. 

This recipe is adapted slightly from a recipe by Stephanie Lemus, one of the competitors in the 2010 Pillsbury Bake-Off contest.  I happened upon it one day by chance and knew that I had to give it a shot!  The recipe below makes 40 canapés.  I scaled mine down considerably, but left her proportions intact. 

Click for Printable Recipe
Ingredients:
  • Pillsbury roll-out pie crust (in the red box)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • maple bacon - maybe 6 slices (make more... you'll eat half!)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 small granny smith apples
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 1 cup blue cheese, crumbled

unroll pie crust on lightly floured surface.

Roll out just a bit thinner.

Mix one egg with 2 Tbsp water.

Whisk until thoroughly mixed.

Drag out an old shot glass with about a 2" diameter.  This was the ideal size for Lily's hands, has no sharp edges like on a cookie cutter, and gives you a cracker that is just about 2 bites.  Perfect size!

Transfer the crust to a cookie sheet lined with parchment or waxed paper.

Prick each round with a fork several times.  we want them to stay flat, not puff up.
Paint the egg wash on each one, lightly.

Sprinkle with kosher salt. (You may consider adding black pepper, too)

Bake for about 8 minutes at 400 degrees, then let cool.  Pretty crackers!

For the candied bacon:  Do yourself a favor and prepare a sheet pan with aluminum foil (shiny side down) and then a cooling rack.  Simply throwing the foil away will make life much easier when this is all said and done.  Place the strips of bacon on the cooling rack.  Mix the brown sugar and cayenne pepper.  Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the bacon.  Bake for about 15 minutes in a 400 F degree oven.  Remove and let cool for an additional 15 minutes or so to firm up.
This is our FAVORITE bacon!  Makes the whole house smell like maple syrup.  And it gives you salty, sweet, and smoky all at the same time.

Placing the bacon strips on a cooling rack allows the hot air to circulate underneath the bacon as well, reducing the cooking time... and all the fat drips down onto the aluminum foil for super easy clean up.

1/3 cup brown sugar.

I used 1/2 tsp cayenne and thought these were great.  A bit hot for kids, so you may want to reduce to 1/4 tsp depending on whom you are cooking these for.

Sprinkle the brown sugar over each bacon strip.

Bake for 15 minutes at 400 F degrees.  If you are using a "thick cut" bacon, you may need to extend the baking time.
Remove cooked bacon and allow to cool for another 15 minutes.  This allows them to really firm up and the "candied" coating to harden slightly.

Cut each bacon slice in about four pieces.

Prepare the apples:  Mix the 1/2 cup water and juice of one lemon.   Slice the apples thinly and soak in the water several minutes.  Remove and pat dry on paper towels.
Please... fresh lemon juice tastes so much better!

Squeeze the lemon juice into 1/2 cup water. 

Add 1 Tbsp granulated sugar.

Cut the apples into thin slices.  Remove seeds.  Leave the pretty skin on.

Soak the apple slices in the acidulated water.

Remove apple slices after several minutes and pat dry.

For the blue cheese base:  Mix softened cream cheese and crumbled blue cheese together.  Don't over mix as you still want to be able to see some chunks of blue cheese.  Put the mixture into a piping bag or a zip top back.
 
Mix the blue cheese and cream cheese together gently.

Put the cheese spread in a zip top bag and cut off the corner just a bit.

Assembly:  Pipe a bit of the blue cheese spread onto a cracker.  Place an apple wedge and a piece of bacon into each.  You could prepare all the parts and assemble prior to serving if you'd like.



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Written Directions:
Method:
Preheat oven to 400 F.
To prepare the "crackers": Roll out the pie dough (slightly thinner than it comes) on a lightly floured surface.  Cut circles out with a 2" round cutter.  Place the round on a parchment or waxed paper-lined cookie sheet.  Brush them with the egg and 2 Tbsp water mixture, then sprinkle with kosher salt.  Bake for about 8 minutes in a 400 F degree oven.  Set aside to cool while you prepare the bacon.
For the candied bacon:  Do yourself a favor and prepare a sheet pan with aluminum foil (shiny side down) and then a cooling rack.  Simply throwing the foil away will make life much easier when this is all said and done.  Place the strips of bacon on the cooling rack.  Mix the brown sugar and cayenne pepper.  Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the bacon.  Bake for about 15 minutes in a 400 F degree oven.  Remove and let cool for an additional 15 minutes or so to firm up.
Prepare the apples:  Mix the 1/2 cup water and juice of one lemon.   Slice the apples thinly and soak in the water several minutes.  Remove and pat dry on paper towels.

For the blue cheese base:  Mix softened cream cheese and crumbled blue cheese together.  Don't over mix as you still want to be able to see some chunks of blue cheese.  Put the mixture into a piping bag or a zip top back.
Assembly:  Pipe a bit of the blue cheese spread onto a cracker.  Place an apple wedge and a piece of bacon into each.  You could prepare all the parts and assemble prior to serving if you'd like.

To prepare the "crackers": Roll out the pie dough (slightly thinner than it comes) on a lightly floured surface.  Cut circles out with a 2" round cutter.  Place the round on a parchment or waxed paper-lined cookie sheet.  Brush them with the egg and 2 Tbsp water mixture, then sprinkle with kosher salt.  Bake for about 8 minutes in a 400 F degree oven.  Set aside to cool while you prepare the bacon.

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