Salted Honey Maple BACON Caramels

I found this amazing recipe on notquitenigella.com and I knew I had to make it for Sue Knecht (the glassblower) because she has an unhealthy obsession with bacon. Plus, I was totally intrigued! It turned out completely amazing... the third time I made it. It's made with half honey and half maple syrup instead of corn syrup, which gives it a wonderful maple taste- just think pancakes and bacon smothered in maple syrup. I really liked the description of her friend's reactions: "contented murmuring at the smooth sweetness of honey and maple, a surprise when they discovered the salty bacon pieces and then a nodding in agreement when they realised that the bacon was not a rogue salty interloper but a long lost friend." Although, let me tell you if you decided to make this for anyone, let them know ahead of time that there is bacon in it... apparently that's not such a great surprise to some people, lol. Anyway, let me walk you through my version of the recipe: 1 lb smoked bacon

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 cup light brown sugar

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup maple syrup

4 TBS unsalted butter

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

2-4 TBS sea salt

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with tinfoil. Lay out as much bacon as you can fit side by side with minimal overlap. Bake for at least 10 minutes, usually takes around 15-20 but keep an eye on it. It passes crispy and moves to burned in the blink of an eye. Once the pound is done baking, lay it out on a paper towel lined plate. As the bacon is cooking, line an 8x8 baking dish with tinfoil and coat it with nonstick spray.

Step 2: After bacon has cooled down enough to handle, crumble it up.

Step 3: Put remaining ingredients (EXCLUDING the sea salt) into a 3qt pot on medium-high heat. Stir frequently and using a candy thermometer monitor the temperature. Take it off the heat as soon as the caramel hits 240F. Keeping an eye on the temp is CRITICAL; the higher the heat, the harder the finished caramel is. Trust me, you don't want to be breaking your teeth on the stuff!

Step 4: As soon as the caramel stops bubbling, stir in the bacon then pour the entire mixture into your prepared baking dish.

Step 5: Let caramel rest for about 5 minutes and then sprinkle generously with sea salt. You want a little salt with each bite so make sure you hit the corners!

Step 6: Cut up your caramels into 64 perfectly bite size pieces, wrap in squares of wax paper and serve in a wicker pig!

I ended up putting some tissue paper in to give it a little something extra in presentation. I gave it to Sue tonight and she just about melted! She absolutely loved them and was so excited about the little pig too :) Anyway, if you know anyone that has a sweet tooth along with a love for bacon, this is the gift for them!