Whiskey, Caramel, Marshmallow and Bacon Bark

Yeah, so it’s a mouthful to say, but we’re betting you won’t mind once you find your hand-to-mouth addiction with this week’s bark.

In keeping with the theme of making the bark recipes as easy as possible, we bypassed making homemade marshmallows. Instead we used a bag of store-bought mini marshmallows and melted them ever so slightly on the stovetop, then spiked it with whiskey and poured that whiskey marshmallow layer over the chocolate.

If you’re wondering why not spike the caramel filling as well — good point — and we tried that. But it takes a lot of whiskey to edge out the strong flavor of caramel.  In doing so, the caramel filling became too liquidity for a bark. So while that was a no-go for the bark, we’ll be bringing that whiskey-spiked caramel back for an upcoming recipe.

And since it seems we are never satisfied, we decided to go one step further and finish our whiskeycara-mallow with a spiced bacon crumble. Yes, spiced — that’s spiced with cayenne and black pepper.

There you have it—an ES style bark that’s equally sweet and spicy and a whole lot punchy, with all kinds of goodness.

On a tangential note, we used this Beka Bain Marie to keep the chocolate melted, warm and ready to go. Mighty handy for this series – thank you, Beka!

Whiskey, Caramel, Marshmallow and Bacon Bark

Makes 1 8×8 pan | Preparation: Line pan with parchment or wax paper with a one-inch overhang on each side.

16 oz of semi-sweet chocolate

  • 4 cups of mini marshmallows
  • ¼ cup whiskey
  • 1 cup caramel (recipe follows)
  • 1 cup of spiced bacon crumble (recipe follows)

Instructions:

1. Place chocolate in a bain marie or in a heat-proof bowl above simmering water. Heat on low until chocolate is melted. Pour half of melted chocolate into parchement-lined pan. Then using an offset spatula, spread chocolate until smooth. Transfer pan to freezer to chill for about 5 minutes or until melted chocolate becomes solid.

2. Place marshmallows in a large saucepan and heat until marshmallows starts to just melt and forms web-like strands when stirred. (See picture). Remove from heat and add in 5 tablespoons of whiskey; stir to combine. Spread marshmallow mixture over solid chocolate layer. (To easily spread the marshmallow to an even layer, spray offset spatula with non-stick spray.)

3. Pour caramel on top of marshmallow layer. Then, using an offset spatula, spread caramel until smooth. Transfer pan to freezer to chill for about 5 minutes or until caramel becomes slightly hardened. Pour remaining half of chocolate over caramel layer and, using an offset spatula, spread chocolate until smooth. Sprinkle and gently press bacon crumble into chocolate, Return fully assembled bark to refrigerator to chill for 20 minutes or until bark becomes solid. Bring bark to almost room temperature before cutting.

Bacon Crumble

  • 16 oz bacon
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoon water
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne

1. Cook bacon and set aside to cool completely. Once cooled, coarsely crumble bacon with hand; set aside and heat oven to 300 degrees F.

2. Place sugar and water in a pot and heat until sugar is dissolved. Toss crumbled bacon in sugar syrup to coat. Pass coated bacon through a strainer to drain excess sugar syrup.

2. Add egg white to a bowl and beat until fluffy and foamy. Add in black pepper and cayenne. Whisk to combine. Add in crumbled bacon and toss to coat.

3. Spread coated, crumbled bacon on a parchment lined bakesheet and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool, then crumble bacon one last time.

Caramel Filling

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 4 tablespoon butter
  • 7 tablespoon heavy cream

Instructions:

  1. Add sugar and water into a saucepan over medium low heat. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Use a wet brush to remove any crystals that form on the side. Once sugar has dissolved increase heat to high. Now and then, using the handle, give the pot a swirl to keep the mixture moving. Do not stir the mixture directly. The mixture will start to bubble after a minute. As the mixture darkens to a medium amber color, approximately 5-7 minutes, add the butter and heavy cream to saucepan. The mixture will bubble wildly. Whisk to combine (bubbles will subside upon cooling). Set aside to cool completely.

UPDATE: Play-by-play on how to make homemade caramel sauce

Notes:

  • If you are gifting this, best to keep it whole and let the recipient dive in and cut it as they go. But if you decide to cut it up and box it, make sure to place a sheet of parchment between each layer.
  • Bark can be kept at rooom temperature for up to two days.
  • You may have more caramel then you need, so keep the leftover in a jar to use in or on another dessert.
  • To keep a nice sharp edge while cutting the bark: (1) Use a really sharp knife and press the blade’s tip into the bark and then bring the remainder of the blade down into the bark. Depending on the kind of knife you use, most blades are shaped at an angle, so don’t bring the knife down in one push, the uneven pressure will crack the bark. (2) After the bark has set in the refrigerator bring it to room temperature before cutting. This will soften the chocolate and make for easy cutting. If the bark starts to split or start to chip off as you cut, the bark is still too cold to cut.

More: Samoas Bark

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65 comments

  • Alison @ Ingredients, Inc. December 8, 2011  

    oh wow. You had me at whiskey

  • BS December 9, 2011  

    you had me at whiskey caramel marshmallow bacon

  • Nita December 9, 2011  

    Do you think I could use caramels and just melt them?

  • Julia December 9, 2011  

    every.single.thing about this has me drooling!

  • bakersroyale December 9, 2011  

    Hi Nita- I don’t see why not. Keep in mind it might be super gooey – nothing wrong with that, right? Give it a go and then comeback and let us know.

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  • Michelle December 10, 2011  

    Is it ok to use regular sized marshmallows? I have loads of them left over from Thanksgiving and would prefer to use what I have on hand. Am just wondering if they won’t melt right or be too “gloppy” for the recipe.

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  • ThisishowIcook December 11, 2011  

    All I can say is OMG.

  • Deb December 13, 2011  

    Do you have a specific brand of semi-sweet chocolate that you like to use? I’m new to baking/candy making. Thanks!

  • jacquelyn | lark + linen December 13, 2011  

    This combination sounds heavenly! I’m thinking this would be perfect for my work potluck lunch – my coworkers will love me

  • Nissa December 13, 2011  

    I don’t have whiskey but I do have Tennessee Honey by Jack Daniels. Would that be a good substitute?

  • bakersroyale December 13, 2011  

    Nissa- That should work! Come back and let us know how you liked it.

  • bakersroyale December 13, 2011  

    Deb-I used Ghirardelli Semi Sweet-but any high quality chocolate like Scharffenberger, Valrhona or Callebaut will also work. The latter three listed are much more pricey though.

  • bakersroyale December 13, 2011  

    Michellle-I don’t see a problem with using regular marshmallows. Maybe cut them in half for eaiser more even melting-not sure, but come back and let us know how it turned out.

  • Katie December 14, 2011  

    I just finished assembling these and I had an issue with the marshmallow layer. I feel like 5 tablespoons is too much because it was very runny, so much that I strained some of it off before I used it. The caramel that I poured on top was not as thick as I think it should have been either so the whole thing never really set appropriately. Any tips?

  • bakersroyale December 14, 2011  

    Hi Katie- The caramel needs to be cooked to the very last point of almost being burnt. If undercooked, it will be runny. (Keep in mind caramel hardens as it cools).As for the marshmallow, I’m not sure why it was very runny for you. But here is something you can do it to save it: 1.Grab some chocolate and melt it; set aside. 2. Cut your bark. The filling may come out of the sides with it being runny – either, scrape away the side-spilling filling or try to push it back between the chocolate layers. 3. Place cut bark on a rack and pour a new layer of chocolate over it, then transfer the bark back to the refrigerator to chill and set. The new chocolate layer should seal it all in!

  • Katie December 15, 2011  

    Thanks so much! I know I was really paranoid about burning the caramel (we don’t have good history!) so a definitely took it off too early. Mine ended up being a much lighter color that in the picture and even completely cooled to room temp it was too pourable. I will definitely try this again though because the spiced bacon crumble top came out perfect! It was yummy on it’s own! 🙂

  • Lindsey December 15, 2011  

    When I added the whiskey to my marshmallows, the whole thing turned to soup…

    Also, my bark never really set. I didn’t get nice clean pieces like you did. I got a plate of marshmallow-y goo and chocolate. Delicious marshmallow-y goo, but very difficult to eat (I made this to set out at a party). What did I do wrong?!

  • Shari December 15, 2011  

    Katie: I had the same problem with the marshmallows; I think that they were overcooked and that is why that happened…if you get them at the right fluffiness then it doesnt end up being so runny.

    As far as the caramel goes, this was my first attempt at making caramel…lets just say it didn’t end well:) I felt as though the sugar wouldn’t completely dissolve in the small amount of water. I could still see grains after a very long time on med-low heat. How long should it take to completely dissolve the sugar and what does it look like, I was anticipating it to look more clear?

  • bakersroyale December 15, 2011  

    Shari, Katie, Lindsey – The marshmallow will turn soupy if you melt it too much – all the gelatin breaks down at that point (gelatin being the main “binding” component of a marshmallow). As for the caramel – yes, that small amount of water will help to dissolve the sugar for the caramel. In fact, you can even make caramel without any water, known as the dry method, is a little tougher to pull off, To make things a little more clear, I will be posting a a step-by-step picture tutorial that will show how to make caramel sauce from the beginning to end. Along with that I will have some color guidance for light to dark amber for caramel readiness.

  • Deb December 16, 2011  

    Well, the good thing is that my caramel turned out great — I actually had to pop it in the microwave for about 30 seconds when I was ready for that layer because it was a little too firm to pour. But I had the same problem other people are having with the marshmellow layer. I tried it 3 times, each time cooking a little less than the time before. By the third time the marshmellows were barely even melted at all and just floated in a sea of whiskey. I also had a problem with my bacon sticking to the parchment, but I think not leaving it on the paper to completely cool would help that. Next time I make this, I am going to assemble a little different at the end, adding the bacon on top of the caramel before letting the caramel set, and then adding the chocolate over the top. This should keep the bacon from coming detached so easily. Tastes yummy though!

  • Lori December 19, 2011  

    I am having trouble with the carmel..it just gets hard and is crystallized mess…I have tried everything. Could someone send me in the right direction?

  • bakersroyale December 19, 2011  

    Lori-I’m putting together a detailed post on how to make caramel sauce with step-by-step pictures that will clarify the process. But to answer your question here directly, to prevent the sugar from crystallizing use a small pastry brush and dip into some water then brush it over the forming crystals this wil dissolve it. In regards to the hardness, the longer the the caramel cooks the harder it will become when cooled. If your caramel is too hard, reheat it and add either 1-2 tablespoon of water or heavy cream to it and that will loosen it up.

  • Kim December 21, 2011  

    Ok….so I just spent 4 hours making this and depending on my family’s reaction, I don’t know if I’d make it again.
    I had the same problems as the rest of the gals…marshmallows not melting and incoorperating the bourbon was a mess. I also had problems with the caramel crystalizing…twice.
    My remedy for both(cuz I REALLY want to try this): I found a website that has a caramel recipe that is made with sugar, water, corn syrup and then adding the butter and cream. It came out great!!! The recipe says that it should end up being the consistancy of caramel in a TWIX bar—fingers crossed.
    The marshmallows, which were already half incooperated with the bourbon, I added a TBSP of butter and microwaved it so that they broke down a little more. I then added marshmallow creme, maybe a half a container. It seemed nice and thick.
    This is in the fridge, as a type, and in a bit I will put the top layer of chocolate on. We shall see…..
    My mouth is watering and I REALLY hope it turns out….will let you know!!

  • Ashley December 21, 2011  

    I made this today. My marshmallow layer was runny also, so I melted more marshmallows and mixed it all together with the carmel. I know it won’t be as pretty layer wise but I think it will work. I will post my pics on my website: ashleykallman.com

    Thanks!

  • kathy December 22, 2011  

    Wow!! I too encountered difficulties making this but preservered to the end. I had runny marshmallows and added a jar of marshmallow creme and it was still runny so I put 1 1/2 cups od little marshmallows in a bowl and microwaved them till fluffy. I blended all of the marshmallow stuff together and it works. The caramel isn’t hardened enough and running out the sides but, oh well. I’ll call this Ooey, Gooey, Whiskey bacon bark. Haha. I know it will turn out better next time. Love the recipe!!

  • Geoff December 23, 2011  

    You have 1/4 cup of whisky in the ingredient list but the marshmallow section only calls for 5 tablespoons. I wasn’t paying attention and dumped the full 1/4 in with one bag of melted marshmallows. That wasn’t so cool but I dumped another bag in and melted it together and it worked fine and left me extra booze marshmallows for crispy treats.

    If anyone made the same mistake I did that would make it runny for sure.

  • Jill December 23, 2011  

    My sister and I made this yesterday and I’m sorry to say it was a huge disappointment 🙁
    It took forever, which just made us cranky. It was way too boozey (and my sister is a boozer!) to the point of being inedible. The marshmallow layer was soup, even though they weren’t even melted that much (all that booze!) The only redeeming quality was the bacon crumble which is dangerously delicious! I would make it in the future as a topping on waffles maybe. I feel like a criminal having wasted all that bacon on this recipe.

  • AJ December 23, 2011  

    Geoff…1 cup equals 16 tablespoons so 1/4 cup is 4 tablespoons. You actually ended up putting in less than 5 tablespoons

  • Jack December 24, 2011  

    Yeah, I just made this and have to say the same. Runny marshmallow whiskey soup.
    Maybe 5 tsp instead of 5 tbsp would work better.

    I don’t think I can use the marshmallow mixture because it’s so runny. I even added more marshmallows to thicken it up.

  • John December 27, 2011  

    We loved this (even though we had a few problems). I overheated the marshmallow – I wonder if Fluff would work? I stressed about how much whiskey to use… Should it be 4T or 5T?? I should have made the caramel – it came out a bit grainy, but worked. The thing that got me and I am surprised that nobody has commented on was the pan size. I used an 8×8 and the bark was way more dense and thick than I expected – not much like the picture above! If nothing else I would make this next time in a 9×13 pan.

  • maria January 3, 2012  

    Same issue for me – with the marshmallow soup. I think if you only just cook the marshmallows the whiskey won’t incorporate – I somewhat salvaged things by dumping another half cup of marshmallows into it after I had added the whiskey – but it still was very runny. I think next time I’ll add the whiskey to the caramel at the end of the cooking time, and just sprinkle the marshmallows over the chocolate keeping them whole…it’ll also make it way easier to cut…the caramel should keep everything in place..

  • Brenden January 14, 2012  

    Just finished making this amazing treat! Pleased to say everything went very smoothly. Time to complete was about 2hrs. Caramel was the perfect consistensy. Dark and rich. Not sure why everyone is having trouble w/ the marshmallows though. Mine actually started to turn a shade of brown b/c I was busy w/ the bacon. I stirred them & they started to web. They began to goo into a ball so I removed from heat & poured 1/4 cup + of Jack into the hot pot and they became the perfect consistency to spread over my chocolate layer. This recipe is my new secret weapon!

  • Tracey January 20, 2012  

    LOVED this!! It took no time at all, and was WONDERFUL!! I did not put the bacon on (vegetarian) and it was still fantastic!! Thanks for the recipe 🙂

  • Theo March 27, 2012  

    I am going to make this DELICIOUS looking treat!! Can I use a jar of caramel sauce and warm it up instead of making my own?

    ( I am not looking forward to the marshmellow melting after reading the comments, but I have a jar of fluff on hand in case it doesn’t work out for me….)

  • Meg May 8, 2012  

    This looks great, and I appreciate all the comments so I know what *not* to do 🙂 We’ll see if it works out… odd question… does heating the marshmallow/whiskey mixture cook the liquor out? I wanted to make this for my hubby, and reeeaaaallly want to try it myself, but I’m preggo so… just wondering! 🙂 Thanks!

  • Jessica Allison July 26, 2012  

    This recipe looks amazing, but it fell flat for me. As most other people mentioned, I had issues incorporating the whiskey into the marshmallow mixture. I had to pitch my first attempt, and reduced the alcohol to 4 T. The recipe is right in that you have to add it in when the marshmallow JUST starts to melt- I’d even say the picture shows the mini marshmallows more melted than they should be in order to avoiding the soup effect. It’ll still be quite thin, but it does set.

    I think the chocolate is very overwhelming in this recipe, and the caramel will taste bitter and burnt if you let it get as dark as the one in the photo. Unfortunately, the caramel is only set when cold, so when you serve it at room temperature as recommended, you’ll be left with runny caramel and a BIG mess.

    Overall, a fail recipe for me.

  • Jackie August 2, 2012  

    How many days in advanced can this be made?

  • Frank September 15, 2012  

    Definitely keep cooking the caramel until it turns amber. I added the butter and cream too soon and had a super liquidy syrup

  • Ash October 3, 2012  

    even though the whiskey is cooked with the marshmallow the alcohol is not cooked out of it right? im going to make it for my civil war reenactor guys and i need to make sure if its only for those 21 and older guys or can the 18 year olds have the bark also?

  • BS October 3, 2012  

    You’ll get some whiskey flavor, but don’t think anyone would be able to get drunk off of these. I’d say they’re safe for your teens!

  • Alee October 12, 2012  

    I made this the other day with quality bourbon and it was great. The marshmallow gets a bit sticky later on. (After cutting, there’s some exposed marshmallow edges that stick to things.) However, the combo with the bacon on top was delicious… Thanks for posting.

  • Kat October 25, 2012  

    I just made this recipe, and loved it. However, I did tweak some things. Instead of putting all of the whiskey into the melted marshmallows, I put in about a tablespoon and a half. The rest I used to replace some of the water in the caramel- in which I cut out two tablespoons of sugar from and replaced it with corn syrup- it prevents crystallization, and tends to enhance the texture. I also added a good pinch of salt to the caramel, and cooked the stuffing out of it to get the right flavor. Since alcohol burns out, and can cause a more vigorous boil, it makes the caramel much more likely to thicken well. In addition, we have super tasters in the house, so I swapped the cayenne for a good chile powder- less heat, and a smoke note that I like with bacon. We also cut back on the pepper somewhat. Finally, I chopped the bacon really fine, and used half of it in between the marshmallow and caramel, to give some definition, and mouthfeel that would break up all of that sticky sweetness. Since I used the healthy nitrate free bacon, I also dusted a little chocolate chipotle salt on the top. Everyone loved it, and I will definitely be keeping it in my recipe box- with the changes. Thanks for the jumping off point.

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  • Carla November 13, 2012  

    I made two major mistakes here: used wax paper instead of parchment for the second round of bacon baking with the egg white coating. Over half the bacon crumbles stuck to the paper 🙁 that’s my own fault for not realizing the difference between wax and parchment or at least spraying it first would have helped. Second, I had marshmallow soup too! So sad I didn’t read the comments. I reall think there should be big red caps in this part of the recipe to warn us ammeters what NOT to do in this step. It’s currently in the freezer but I am guessing it’s not going to set well. Haven’t added the caramel yet, which came out great (second time making caramel). I’m curious how they will turn out and will probably make it again the RIGHT way bc I hate that I messed it up so bad. It’s for a baking club at work so I hope I don’t get anyone sick tomorrow! Hahaha

  • ingrid November 14, 2012  

    I haven’t made these yet, but here’s my plan:

    I want to use the Wilton Peppermint Bark Kit (and some other sundry metal cookie cutters i have laying around) but not the candy chips that comes with it) and enclose the marshmallow and caramel layers in the chocolate – so they won’t actually be layered bark, i guess, but more of a candy bar.

    I know my cooking skills, and since i’m planning to enclose the messier parts anyway, plan to totally cheat and use caramel ice cream topping and add the whiskey at the start, the same way you add butter to marshmallows when making rice crispy treats.

    I was thinking instead of the simple syrup, would melted butter and brown sugar work for the bacon crumble? I think enough of the butter would bake off in the oven that it wouldn’t be too greasy and fall out of the top chocolate layer.

    I’ll come back and let you know how it turns out.

  • Sally December 13, 2012  

    I am currently waiting for my caramel layer to freeze but so far I’m loving what I see and I can’t wait to try the finished product. I went super semi-homemade on it too buy using already made bacon crumbles you can get in packages for things like salads and potatoes and just followed the rest of the directions listed for the bacon and it turned out delicious. For the caramel sauce I got the caramel cubes and mixed a whole 14oz package with 1 cup of heavy cream and melted that all down and used just enough to cover the marshmallow layer. I also sprinkled just a little bit of salt on top of the caramel to enhance the flavor like someone had suggested. For the marshmallow layer I went ahead and added 4 tbsp of whiskey at the beginning when I put the 4 cups of marshmallows in hoping I wouldn’t get the soupy effect that everyone else seemed to get but I failed 🙁 so I just added the rest of the marshmallows from the bag, let them mellow for just a little bit but let the extras keep their shape and then poured the marshmallow mixture in the pan and freezing it helped the marshmallow to set and not be a soup anymore. Hope this helped!

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