Bacon remains all the rage, but is dark chocolate is a suitable medium in which to serve it? Once again, We Try it So You Don’t Have To.
Bacon seems to be enjoying a resurgence of popularity; the mere mention of this cured meat can inspire furious activity on various social media and news bookmarking sites; msnbc.com recently referred to bacon’s resurgence as “bacon chic.” Products based purely around gluttony are sure to include bacon as a main component.
Gourmet candymaker Vosges has jumped into the fray, first with a milk chocolate bacon bar, and more recently with a dark chocolate bacon bar. Known as “Mo’s Dark Bacon Bar,” it’s a 62% cacao dark chocolate bar with the added ingredients of Alderwood-smoked salt and Applewood-smoked bacon pieces.
I won’t bury the headline: this is not good. In fact, it borders on disgusting. At the very least, this chocolate bar is less than the sum of its parts.
Sweet and salty definitely go together. I’m a huge fan of fleur de sel caramels and chocolate bars made with sea salt, among other things. So why wouldn’t a delicious bacon and a fine chocolate smooshed together by a master chocolatier make for a winning combination? Let’s examine.
On the packaging of this near $8 (yes, $8, post-tax) candy bar is a fond look back by Vosges owner Katrina Markoff to her childhood practice of eating chocolate chip pancakes with Aunt Jemima syrup and a side of “sizzlin'” bacon strips.
I think many of us have experienced something similar.
“Really, what doesn’t taste better with bacon?” she finishes.
I can even mostly support that statement, but I’d need to qualify it thusly: “What doesn’t taste better with freshly cooked bacon?” You know, that whole “sizzlin'” thing she herself referred to?
Sitting at the breakfast table, crispy, just-fried bacon in hand, sure there’s nothing better than taking alternating bites of salty, bacony goodness, then taking one with some mass-market “maple” syrup, a la Ms. Jemima or Log Cabin.
It’s delicious, of course. Two main reasons for the enjoyment:
1] The bacon is fresh and hot and crispy.
2] The bacon is the star. The syrup is a condiment.
When you throw little bits of long-ago-cooked bacon into chocolate, you lose both of these factors. The bacon in Mo’s Bar tastes okay, but is good perhaps in the same way that beef jerky is good. It’s a cured meat, it’s salty, it’s a little grisly maybe. And there are little pockets of what seem to be pure bacon lard, which is not pleasant when room temperature. The combination (tough and chewy alternating with greasy and giving) results in a kind of mouth feel I do not like juxtaposed with smooth chocolate.
Further, I am not convinced that the complex flavors in a good dark chocolate are complementary to bacon, or vice-versa. The main characteristic of table syrup is “sweet,” which, in small amounts, adds to the enjoyment of freshly prepared bacon. Bar chocolate, on the other hand, is semi-sweet and rich has varying degrees of spice or other flavor elements. The distinctive porkiness and smokiness of bacon turn what I hoped would be a party in my mouth into more of a riot.
I’ll confess that eating the bar was a fun experience, simply for the novelty. Perhaps “disgusting,” is too strong; let’s say it’s a little off-putting. But that price is especially off-putting.
THE RESULT: I tried it, now you don’t have to. While I would by no means suggest incorporating this dark chocolate bacon bar into your routine, you might want to try it if you can stomach spending $8* on a 3-oz. chocolate bar. Then you can see which does down easier: the price tag, or the candy itself.
(Smaller sizes are available for less; about $2.50 will get you 0.5 ounces; that’s what we would recommend to try if you can find them)