Kitchen Lab: Whiskers on Kittens



Right here, my friends! Let’s make whiskey brittle!*

This one will take some time, because you need to let the layers of awesome goodness solidify before you add the next one. So set aside some time and collect your items:
16 oz. semisweet chocolate (I just used chocolate chips)
Whiskey (any amount will do, you can drink the extra)
Marshmallows (the recipe calls for 4 cups, but I always call for more)
Caramel sauce (a cup of this stuff right here)
Bacon (a lot. A lotalot.)

many strips of cooked bacon in a row on paper towel

You can start kinda in any order you like, but since I already had the caramel sauce I made the bacon first. All nice and crispy, as much as would fit in my pans. Yes, pans, multiple. No judging, it’s BACON. And like the whiskey, you can always consume any extra. (pfft. Extra bacon.) I let it cool on paper towel for maximum crisp. You’re going to be smushing it into crumbles, so even if you’re one of those weirdos who likes mooshy bacon you should go a little long on the cooking time here.

Then I melted the chocolate. If you’ve got a double boiler you can kinda set this up and forget it while you’re doing other things. Yes, I got myself a fake-y little double-boiler thingy just to melt it. Wouldn’t you have, for the promise of something with all of these fantastic ingredients in one delicious mouthful? (Correct answer: maybe.)

Note: while at the store, I discovered that chocolate chips have the same ingredients as, but are less expensive than, that schmancy baking chocolate that comes in tidy, individually-wrapped squares. And I can just pour the whole bag of chips into the pot without fussing with sixteen twee little wrapped thingies. I love stuff that comes pre-measured. (If anyone has some reasonable argument against chips-rather-than-bakers-squares, do share.)

melted chocolate in a tiered pot with a silicone spatula in
This got messy. Go figure.

When your chocolate’s all melted, you want to pour about half of it into a wax-paper lined brownie pan (which is what I consider those 9×9 pans to be). The waxed paper is important if you ever want to remove this stuff from the pan with anything other than a chisel or powerwasher. While it’s still warm and runny, spread the chocolate evenly across the bottom of the pan and let it cool. Sticking it in the freezer while you’re fixing up your marshmallows can’t hurt.

Then you get your marshmallows drunk. Melt the marshmallows in a nice big pot; pay attention to them so they don’t try to just toast themselves. I recommend a silicone spoon/spatula and/or one doused in cooking spray. When the marshmallows are all stringy when you stir, remove the pan from the stove and stir in 5 tablespoons of whiskey. (This is more than a shot, they are drunk little marshmallows.) The marshmallow fluff will diminish significantly! This is my second try at whiskey brittle, and I’ve gotten similar results at the add-whiskey step both times. Hence my standing recommendation for MOAR MARSHMALLOWS. Take your pan out of the freezer and spread this whiskified fluff evenly over the layer of chocolate.

a bowl of crumbled bacon
moar smushing!

The recipe then just proceeds happily into pouring the caramel on top of the marshmallows, but I recommend at least letting the marshmallows cool/set/solidify a bit first. Otherwise you end up with a rather soupy swirl of even less marshmallowy goodness than you had after adding the whiskey. So while you’re waiting for your marshmallows to sober up a bit, you can smush your bacon. Because I’m a snob I used to bartend, I used a muddler to smush my bacon into crumbly pieces, but you can use your hands or a meat tenderizer or a clean mallet or whatever you have to hand. Basically, you’re making bacon bits.

Hopefully your marshmallows have figured out what they’re doing with their lives by now. Pour on the caramel, spread that layer evenly around the pan. Spread the other half of the melted chocolate (still happily hangin’ out in the double boiler thing, yes? All still melty? Good.) over the top of the marshmallows. Sprinkle your bacon bits over the top of this second chocolate layer and press them in gently. Refrigerate the whole thing so it solidifies, but when you’re ready to cut it up you should let it get back up to room temperature. It’s not a tidy job, but the results are worth it.

Crumbled bacon, a jar of caramel sauce, chocolate in a pan and melted marshmallows in a pot

* Even on my second attempt, the “brittle” part of this stuff eludes me. I don’t know if I’m not treating my marshmallows right or if I’m using the wrong caramel or what, but this stuff is kinda a runny mess. A delicious, runny mess.

Note: I understand that this stuff made a vegan reconsider. “I’m just gonna ignore that bacon on there,” she said before taking a bite. I don’t know how to feel about that, but she seemed to enjoy it. 😀

whiskey brittle close up

Beth Voigt

Beth is a graphic designer in Chicago, a superhero in her own mind, and absolutely nothing on TV. She wrangles fonts professionally, pummels code amateurishly, and has been known to shove fire in her face for fun. Fond of volunteering, late-night bursts of productivity, and making snacks, she dislikes grocery shopping and sticky public transit and is only on her second smartphone. Her opinion is that you should try everything twice; if you don't like it, you were probably doing it wrong the first time around. If external links are your thing, here are links to Twitter and Instagram, and you can support her ongoing weirdness by buying her a coffee or six.

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