I love Sunday mornings. About 12 years ago, I started a habit where I would get up early on Sundays, go to the gym, and then as a reward, go to a local coffee shop for a pastry and The New York Times. This simple weekly routine would give me boundless pleasure. I looked forward to it all week. Part of it was getting up before the rest of the city was awake. There are very few moments when NYC is quiet, but early Sunday morning is one of those times. And I savored every minute. I actually enjoyed my workouts on Sunday mornings because I knew I was getting a reward afterwards. Often times, I would bring my favorite donuts (cake donuts or bust!) in a Ziploc bag and settle in at a table with steaming hot coffee and the Sunday paper. I would take my time reading it from cover to cover (except the unnecessary Sports Section) over the course of two hours.
But somewhere along the way, I stopped doing this thing that brought me so much delight. Shortly after moving in with my husband things started to change. He really enjoys staying in on Sunday mornings, so I thought it would be nice to stay in with him. I had fantasies of us reading the paper together while curled up on the couch with our pastries in hand. But Mr. K isn’t a big pastry guy. He prefers a savory breakfast on the weekends. And he isn’t really into reading the paper from cover to cover. He mainly enjoys the Automobiles section, to which I say booooooo. Eventually, the television would be turned on while I was reading the paper, and I would try not to feel disappointed. It took me a few years to realize that I no longer enjoyed my Sunday mornings. By trying to incorporate my husband into my routine, I was giving up something that brought me joy.
Of course, all it took was for me to simply communicate all of this to him. He thought it was a no-brainer: Why don’t I go back to the routine that I love so much? Mr. K said his feelings would not be hurt in the least bit. In fact, he said he really enjoyed getting work done on Sunday mornings, so this would be a win-win for both of us. I sheepishly agreed that this was indeed a very simple issue to resolve. If only I had spoken up sooner! But the good news, readers? The good news is that I am back to my old routine and loving every peaceful minute of it. I’ve even discovered an adorable Maltese (Maltese!) bakery in my Queens neighborhood that has incredible pastries, so no need to smuggle in donuts anymore.
Since Valentine’s Day is officially on the horizon, I figured I should do something with one of my favorite foods: chocolate! One of my favorite chocolate bars right now is Mo’s Bacon Bar made by Vosges. The pairing of crisp bacon and smoked salt with the dark chocolate is incredibly delicious. (f you have a hard time finding smoked salt in your area, you can find it on Amazon.) I have a hard time eating one square at a time when it’s in my apartment. And then I thought, why spend $7 on a bar when I could easily make this at home? So I did! It’s as easy as making any other bark. After tempering your chocolate (which is the trickiest part), you simply mix in the crispy bacon and smoked salt. Voila! You just saved $7. Place the bark into cellophane bags, tie with red ribbon, and give one to your Valentine.
1.4 oz dark chocolate (about 2 cups; bittersweet or semi-sweet is fine)
4 pieces hickory smoked bacon
1/2 tsp. course smoked salt (I use Alderwood smoked salt)
Place parchment paper into a 9×13″ baking pan.
1. Fry bacon over medium-high heat until extra crispy (around 7-8 minutes).
2. Place bacon on a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Cool completely.
3. Finely chop bacon and set aside.
4. Roughly chop dark chocolate and set aside 1/3 of chocolate.
5. Place 2/3 of chocolate in double-boiler over medium-low heat. Stir frequently until chocolate is completely melted.
6. Remove from heat. Add remaining 1/3 of chocolate and stir continuously until all of the chocolate has melted.
7. Test temperature of chocolate with your finger. Chocolate should feel neutral (not warm). If chocolate is still warm, continue stirring until chocolate feels neutral in temperate.
8. Stir in chopped bacon and smoked salt. Pour into parchment-lined baking pan and spread out evenly.
9. Place pan in refrigerator for approximately 1 hour. Bark should be completely set.
10. Grab the parchment paper and pull bark out of pan. Using a sharp knife, cut bark into bite-sized pieces.