3 cups / 750 mL instant vanilla pudding, prepared according to package directions and refrigerated until ready to use
4 Tbsp / 60 mL unsalted butter
1 cup / 250 mL packed light brown sugar
1 cup / 250 mL heavy cream, divided
1 tsp / 5 mL sea salt
1/4 tsp / 1 mL vanilla extract
2 – 13 oz / 375 g packages bacon
2 cups / 500 mL packed brown sugar
3 large bananas
1 lb / 500 g fresh strawberries
16 oz / 450 g shortbread cookies
3 oz / 85 mL rum (optional)
6 oz / 170 g good quality dark chocolate, (70% Cocoa)
For the salted caramel:
- In medium saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat.
- Add light brown sugar; stir to combine.
- Bring mixture to a boil, remove from heat and, in small increments, slowly whisk in 3/4 cup cream.
- Return mixture to a boil, and immediately decrease heat to a slow simmer, swirling occasionally, about 10 minutes.
- Remove saucepan from heat. Stir in salt and vanilla. Set aside.
For the candied bacon:
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- Place brown sugar into shallow dish. One at a time, press bacon slices into brown sugar, coating both sides evenly. Discard any remaining brown sugar.
- Place bacon slices on baking sheet. Bake, in batches, 20-25 minutes or until bacon is crisp and sugar has caramelized.
- Remove bacon to a clean plate lined with wax paper to cool slightly. Repeat with remaining bacon strips.
- Roughly chop bacon into small pieces and set aside. Reserve about 1/3 cup for garnish.
For the fruit:
- Peel and slice bananas into rounds, about 1/4-inch thick. Set aside.
- Wash and hull strawberries. Dab dry with paper towels and slice into 1/4-inch thick slices. Set aside.
For the cookies:
- Place cookies in large resealable bag. Squeeze out extra air.
- With palm of hand, crush cookies into small chunks.
- Divide crushed cookies into three equal amounts.
For the chocolate:
- In small heat-proof bowl, microwave the remaining 1/4 cup cream and chocolate on high for 25 seconds.
- Stir until chocolate is melted. Repeat if necessary but reduce microwave time to 10-second intervals being careful not to overheat the chocolate. Overheated chocolate will seize (mixture will become grainy and greasy). Mixture should be smooth, shiny and satiny. Allow to cool slightly.
- To assemble, layer one-third of the cookie crumbs*, half the pudding, half the fruit, half the caramel, half the bacon and all the chocolate.
- Continue layering on one-third of the cookie crumbs and the remaining pudding, fruit, caramel and bacon.
- Top with remaining cookie crumbs and garnish with reserved bacon.
- Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Trifle can be made 1 day ahead.
*If desired, drizzle each layer of cookie crumbs with 1 ounce of rum.