Sugar Rush: Salted Chocolate Pot de Creme with Bacon Cotton Candy at Ruxbin
Editor's Note: Sugar Rush is a weekly column exploring the sweeter side of Chicago's restaurant scene. Leading the search is Kate Bernot, who has written extensively about food and drink around town, and recently counted down where to find great hot chocolate.
A salted chocolate pudding topped with bacon cotton candy could easily veer into the territory of the trite. Just add a mini-cupcake and it would encapsulate most of 2011's dessert trends. Yet when the ethereal cloud of thread-like blown sugar arrives atop an elegant ceramic bowl of pristine chocolate creme, it's clear that Ruxbin's Eddy Kim has elevated the chocolate-bacon combination to its most refined height.
When a sous-chef impulsively bought a cotton candy maker at Bed, Bath & Beyond, the kitchen staff nearly broke the machine by heating hard candies and other ill-suited confections. After much experimentation, Kim settled on using regular sugar for the cotton candy, then sprinkling it with bacon flakes once plated. Beneath the architectural saccharine cloud, a chocolate creme with the consistency of Jell-O pudding supports an obelisk of cumin tuile, adding a nearly unidentifiable flavor and a contrasting textural crunch. Lastly, the bowl is lightly dusted with just enough sea salt and chopped nuts to add the final savory note.
Chefs overdid the bacon-chocolate gimmick enough last year to nearly obliterate its novelty. They would do well to take a page from Eddy Kim's book: No ingredient can ever be written off entirely if you prepare it with thought, innovation, and maybe a bit of cotton candy.