Gingerbread Waffles and “THE” Bacon

Dsc00242 So I think that it is safe to say that over the past two weeks, I have pretty much covered all of the traditional Thanksgiving recipe categories.  All of them, that is, except for the green vegetable.  I’ll have a stellar brussels sprouts dish (no, that is not an oxymoron) for you on Monday.  Let’s face it, nobody wants to read about vegetables over the weekend.  Today, I have a few recipes that you can make for a hearty Thanksgiving breakfast.  This should be enough to keep everyone full until dinner time, or in my family, until the snacks are ready.  The gingerbread pancakes are indeed delicious.  Their spicy flavor paired with the sweetness of the blueberry syrup is a tasty combination.  I’m going to cut to the chase however:  This breakfast is really all about the bacon.

I’ll be honest with you.  I’ve never really spent that much time thinking about bacon.  I’ve always been more of an oatmeal or egg-white omelet girl.   My brother, on the other hand, is somewhat of a bacon connoisseur.  So when I made him a batch of this Sweet and Spicy Bacon and he proclaimed it “the best bacon that he had ever had”, I knew that I was onto something.  When I had my bakery/cafe, customers used to call us in the morning just to see if our breakfast special came with “The Bacon”.  Even if it did, they would order it with an extra side of bacon.  You get the picture.  What people love about this bacon is that, in one bite, it mixes the classic smoked bacon taste with caramelized salty, sweet, and spicy flavors.   This bacon is also great because it is baked on a lined baking sheet and not pan fried.  This makes it so much easier to clean up–just throw away the parchment or foil liner.  Of course, the house smells amazing while it bakes.   I have a friend who says that they should take the bacon smell and make it into a candle.  After you try this bacon, I think that you’ll agree that she may be on to something!    Here are some tips for both of these recipes:

  • For the waffle batter, I give the option of using vegetable or safflower oil.  I like to use safflower oil when I bake because it is lower in saturated fat, but it is truly flavorless.  I think that canola oil has a funny aftertaste that can be detected in baked goods.  Safflower oil can be a little more expensive, so I usually buy 4 or 5 bottles at a time when it is on sale.
  • When dropping the waffle batter onto the waffle iron, I like to use an ice cream scoop (about 1/4 cup).  This keeps the portions uniform and is not as messy as a ladle.  Try not to drop too much batter for each portion as the batter will spread and rise as it bakes.  See the picture below for the correct amount of batter.
  • The waffles can be made in advance and frozen for a week or stored in an airtight container for one day.  They are best reheated and crisped in a 350F degree oven for 6-8 minutesDsc00238_2  before serving.
  • The blueberry syrup is also delicious served over pancakes, pound cake, or vanilla ice cream.  Leftover syrup can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to one week.  You can substitute other fruits for the blueberries, such as blackberries, strawberries, or raspberries (or a mixture).
  • If you can’t find Applewood smoked bacon, just use a standard thick cut bacon.  The regular slices are usually too thin.  You can use this recipe for turkey bacon, but it won’t turn out quite the same due to the lower fat content.  Try it at least once with regular bacon!
  • If you want to use a convection oven to cook the bacon,  cut the baking time down to 10 minutes per side.  Convection ovens cook things faster and more evenly because they circulate the hot air around the oven.
  • Adjust the heat of the spices in the baking recipe to your taste.  In other words, if you go to the local Thai restaurant and order a “1” level, you should probably decrease the amounts a bit!

Gingerbread Waffles with Blueberry Maple Syrup

Makes 10-12 square waffles

Ingredients:

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons ground gingerDsc00240

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 large eggs

1/4 cup sugar

1 cup whole milk

1/2 cup molasses

6 tablespoons butter, melted

2 tablespoons vegetable or safflower oil

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Blueberry Maple Syrup (recipe follows)

Whisk  together the first 8 ingredients in a large bowl.  In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs and next 6 ingredients until well blended.  Add the egg mixture gradually to the flour mixture, whisking until well blended.  Cook the waffles in a preheated waffle iron, that has been lightly coated with cooking spray, until they are a deep golden color.  Serve warm with butter, Blueberry Maple Syrup, and Sweet and Spicy Bacon (recipe follows).

Blueberry Maple Syrup

Makes about 2 1/2 cups

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon lemon zest

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/8 teaspoon salt

Stir together the sugar, 1 cup water, cinnamon, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a medium heavy saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium heat; reduce heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally,  5 minutes or until the sugar dissolves and the the mixture thickens slightly.  Add the blueberries; simmer 15-20 minutes or until the blueberries have popped.  Remove from the heat; stir in the maple syrup and salt.  Serve warm.

Sweet and Spicy Bacon

Serves 6

Ingredients:Dsc00236

1 pound of thick-cut Applewood smoked bacon

3 tablespoons packed brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.  In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, cayenne, and black pepper.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil.  Arrange the bacon slices in one layer on the baking sheet and bake in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes.  Turn the slices over and sprinkle evenly with the spiced sugar.  Continue baking until the bacon is crisp and brown, 15-20 minutes more.  Transfer to paper towels to drain.

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