Whether it's a crisp shard garnishing bread pudding or crumbles on maple ice cream, bacon is subtly making its way into desserts. And not so subtly: When bacon impresario Dan Philips of the Grateful Palate collaborated on a bacon-themed dinner at The Brown hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, pastry chef Brian Logsdon created this bacon-studded baklava for dessert.
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1 1/2 pounds sliced bacon
1 cup whole blanched almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped
3/4 cup coarsely chopped dates
1 package phyllo dough
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons bourbon
Finely grated zest of 1/2 orange
Preheat the oven to 400°. In a skillet, fry the bacon in batches until crisp. Drain well and crumble. In a food processor, finely chop the bacon with the almonds and dates.
Butter a 9-by-13-inch metal baking pan. Lay a sheet of phyllo in the pan; trim the edges to fit and brush with butter. Repeat with 4 more phyllo sheets and butter. Spread 1 cup of the filling evenly over the phyllo. Repeat this layering of 5 phyllo sheets and bacon filling two more times. Top with 5 buttered phyllo sheets, buttering the top well.
With a small, sharp knife, cut the baklava into diamonds. Bake the baklava for 10 minutes. Turn the oven to 325° and bake for 1 hour longer, or until nicely browned.
Meanwhile, combine the sugar, maple syrup, water, bourbon and orange zest in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, then let cool to room temperature. Pour the cooled syrup over the hot baklava and let stand at room temperature uncovered overnight.