News & Features

Baconfest 2015: Dessert Edition

April 23 2015 - 9:00 AM

I was thrilled to attend Baconfest, held on Saturday, April 18, at UIC Forum. I went to the Saturday lunch session with a few of my friends, and quickly decided that I wanted to focus on the dessert options. It’s no secret that I have a massive sweet tooth (I did go to Donut Fest, after all), and the combination of sweet and salty is always a favorite of mine. While I certainly sampled virtually all of the 70ish bacon dishes at my session, I decided to rank my top  five favorite dessert options. The list (in no particular order) is as follows:

1. Chocolate Chip and Bacon Cookie – Mindy’s Hot Chocolate

When I saw Mindy’s Hot Chocolate listed as a vendor, I knew magic would happen. Mindy Segal, the namesake of Mindy’s Hot Chocolate, recently published an entire cookbook dedicated to cookies, called Cookie Love. My favorite desserts are cookies in any form, and I knew Mindy’s would likely nail it. Despite the fact that this was one of the last desserts I tried, I was not about to let my bacon-coma stop me from trying it.

And, they were amazing. They were giving away bite-sized portions of the cookies, and I probably had about five. When I decided that wasn’t enough, I started sending my friends over to grab me more cookies. I love crunchy cookies with a soft center, and these were perfect. I am already in the process of adding Segal’s cookbook to my Amazon shopping cart, as I am fairly convinced she can do no wrong when it comes to desserts.

*Quick note: this was not even the featured dish from Mindy’s, it just stole the show for me! I love cookies!

2. Bacon, Dark Chocolate, Vanilla, and Salted Pistachio Parfait – Bacaro

I love dark chocolate, and I love pistachios. To take those two ingredients and add in a hint of bacon bits as well as a rich vanilla mousse was a wonderful combination. Again, I had about three of these. This is exactly why I loved BaconFest- none of the chefs were judging you if you kept coming back for more. This dish was sweet but not overwhelming, meaning it didn’t set you further into a Bacon Daze. It was light enough to really enjoy the flavors and how well they blended together.

3. Bacon S’mores – Kaiser Tiger

This dessert option was quite straightforward, but it was incredibly delicious. I didn’t see a campfire by the chef’s table, but the bacon marshmallow was perfectly roasted. S’mores are already an amazingly underrated dessert option to begin with, and adding bacon to the mix knocked it out of the park. I think this would be easy to replicate over your traditional campfire, but the chefs at Kaiser Tiger made it into a delicious art form. Like many of the dishes I sampled, it was almost too adorable to eat. Almost.

4. Maple Glazed Pineapple and Bacon Donut – Firecakes

Firecakes has a very special place in my heart. They were my top pick at this year’s Donut Fest, and their pineapple and bacon donut at this event was incredible as well. I think Firecakes makes some of the best donuts in the city, and their quality is always consistent no matter what flavor you get. The combination of maple, pineapple, and bacon was delicious in this doughnut. Bonus points: the portion was pretty close to a regular-sized doughnut. Yes, please.

5.  Fried Chicken French Toast – Honey Butter Fried Chicken

The great thing about this dish is that it could be a breakfast, lunch, dinner, or dessert dish. It’s a well-known fact that Honey Butter has some of the best fried chicken in the city, and their french toast is quite phenomenal as well. It was served with a maple bourbon syrup and bacon honey butter. I somehow managed to eat the entire thing in one bite, and the flavors were perfect together. The honey butter, which is good on its own, was insanely delicious with the addition of bacon. I think that’s actually true for everything on this list – the desserts would be good on their own, but the addition of bacon is what sets it apart.

And that, fellow Chicagoans, is exactly why we all need to continue going to Baconfest year after year. As someone who doesn’t eat bacon too much (I’m thinking I should change that), this event is well-worth the rising cholesterol. ‘Murica.

Photos by Ben Collins-Sussman and Anne Petersen for Baconfest, used with permission.