Friday, May 20, 2011

Trend Schmend

My husband, working for a few weeks in L.A., mentioned an 
alarming trend in men's fashion.  Every man within the 20 mile radius of Sunset and Vine was channeling the cowboy in the Village People.  

Our young (and not so young) trendsters start with a slim fitting, Western inspired plaid shirt, often but not always bedazzled with pearlescent buttons,  the breast pockets stitched with Merle Haggard flair .  The look requires snug dungarees and a neutral pair of boots, neither full Frye, sh*t kicking nor jazz flat, something vaguely straddling that sphere and slightly scuffed.  Of course the hair matters, it's closely shorn but artfully messy and the facial landscaping requires a mist of  neer do well scruff.  On occasion,  A Clockwork Orange is consulted for sartorial inspiration and our ensemble is accessorized with a jaunty pair of black suspenders.  

On a quick trip to New York this past week, I noticed the trend had spread to the east coast, infecting bouncing baby hipsters from Williamsburg to Noho.  It's not an unattractive look but to see Howdy Couture gracing the boney shoulders of East Coast emo soldiers and West Coast actors/baristas is creepy.  

The same can be said for food culture, once a trend hits, it hits hard and wends it's way onto pastry cases and dessert menus nationwide.  Cupcakes, macaron, black pepper with vanilla, Thai basil with fruit and bacon with chocolate.  Mini this, pop that.  

But hell, in the case of fashion, if your skinny male posterior can carry off the hipster cowboy look, god speed.  It's certainly more attractive than anything of the 70s gems you'll find here.

And so what if a food fad is ubiquitous and over done.  Does it really matter if the result is tasty?  Of course not.  Especially chocolate and bacon, it's a combination that may even survive being a trend and simply become a time honored flavor pairing.  

So don your bedazzled Western blouse and break out the bacon and chocolate, we're embracing our inner Village Person today.

  • Brownies with a Dose of Trendy Bacon
For the Brownies:


  • 1 stick or 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 8 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped  ( I use Callebaut 60/40)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Callebaut Extra Brute)
  • 1  cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 scant teaspoon baking powder (when you measure, level off the teaspoon aggressively so that instead of the baking powder being leveled evenly, you create a slight divet in the mixture to give you just a little less than 1/2 teaspoon)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
  • 2 tablespoons espresso
  • 1 tablespoon flake sea salt (optional), for sprinkling

For the caramel:

To finish:  

bacon, fried until crispy
vanilla ice cream


-Preheat oven to 325º

-Melt the chocolate,  butter, espresso powder and vanilla bean extract together in a heat proof bowl over simmering water (a bain marie) until completely melted.  Set aside.

-In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk the eggs until broken apart.  Add the sugar and whisk until the egg mixture/sugar mixture is well combined.

-In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, salt,  and baking powder until well combined. Add half the flour mixture to the butter and sugar.  Mix briefly.  Add all of the chocolate mixture, mix briefly.  And then add the remaining flour mixture.  Mixing just until the ingredients are well combined.

-Gently stir the batter with a large rubber spatula to incorporate any errant bits of flour/cocoa.  

-Transfer the mixture to a brownie pan (like mine in the picture) or a traditional Pyrex 8x8 of 9x9 baking pan.

-Sprinkle the top of the batter with bits of flake sea salt.

-Bake for 20 - 25 minutes if your using a Baker's Edge brownie pan.  30 - 35 minutes for a traditional pan.  DO NOT OVER BAKE!  If you insert a toothpick, small crumbs should still come off (but there shouldn't be a coating of wet batter either).

-Slice and top your brownie with ice cream, nuts, caramel and bacon.  Crumbling the bacon is a lovely way to evenly distribute the flavors but brandishing a slice really screams "I'M A TRENDY PIECE OF BACON ON A CHOCOLATE DESSERT. DEAL WITH IT."