1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
4 ½ cups sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 pinch kosher salt
1 ½ cups heavy cream
4 ½ tablespoons light corn syrup
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
9 tablespoons unsalted butter plus more to butter pan
3 vanilla beans – seeds scraped, pods reserved for another use
1 cup bacon cooked finely chopped, (about ¾ pound of raw bacon)
1 cup finely chopped and toasted walnuts
1. To make the dulce de leche, place the unopened can of sweetened condensed milk in a pot of boiling water for 3 hours Add more water as necessary. After 3 hours, remove the can from the water and cool down in an ice bath until cold, about a half hour before opening. Reserve.
2. Butter an 8 x 8 or 9 x 9-inch pan and line with parchment paper.
3. In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Whisk together and combine the mixture until it’s homogeneous.
4. In a large bowl, whisk the heavy cream and corn syrup until they are completely combined. Slowly “temper” the sugar mixture into the wet ingredients. The consistency will be like cake batter. Be sure to get all lumps out. Place the mixture in a large stock pot and cook over high heat until it reaches 235°-240° F, about 17-20 minutes, occasionally stirring to prevent the bottom from scorching. Once it reaches the soft ball stage, stir in the chocolate using a heat-proof spoon. Add the butter. Once the butter melts add the vanilla seeds.
5. Remove from the heat and carefully pour one-third of the fudge into the prepared pan and top with half of the bacon, walnuts and reserved dulce de leche. Use the back of a spoon to marble the mixture. Repeat with the one-third more of the fudge and the remaining bacon, walnuts and dulce de leche, marbling this layer as well. Top with the remaining fudge.
6. Allow to cool at room temperature until the fudge is set-up.*(see note below). Unmold from the pan onto a cutting board and cut into squares.
*Easiest "set-up" technique is to simply let fudge cool at room temperature. This may take up to 2 hours and yields a softer, more chewy consistency.
For a classic, firmer fudge, cool the mixture for 10-15 minutes to 120 degrees F. Using a spatula, stir the fudge until it begins to turn creamy and opaque then proceed with assembly as directed (step 5). NOTE: this technique is time sensitive. Expediency with layering is critical since fudge will begin to quickly firm.