espresso-rubbed sliders with cherry jam and bacon

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SPRING BREAK = free time = nonstop cooking! i made these sliders in the midst of a cooking frenzy, somewhere in between baking a five-layer apple cake and a kosher-for-passover chocolate roll. the desserts are a bit seasonally inappropriate — the apple cake has a thanksgiving vibe, and the chocolate roll looks like it belongs in a christmas dinner — but these sliders are PERFECT for a warm april day.

i went all out and made every component from scratch, even the buns. if you don’t have the time/energy to make the buns or jam, feel free to substitute with store-bought versions (these would be super good with hawaiian rolls).

buns

  • 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 egg
  • sesame seeds

cherry jam 

  • 2 cups pitted Bing cherries
  • 1/3 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar

bacon

  • 4 slices of bacon
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar

burgers

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp espresso powder
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 8 slices of havarti

assembly

  • softened butter
  • escarole

for the buns, combine the brown sugar, butter, flour, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. heat the water in a separate bowl until it is 110º, then sprinkle the yeast on top. let sit for a few minutes, then add to the stand mixer. mix on medium speed for 8 to 10 minutes, until smooth and supple. let rest for 5 minutes, then form into small rolls (this recipe should yield about 15). transfer rolls to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, then let rise for an hour and 15 minutes. when ready to bake, preheat oven to 375º. make an egg wash by beating the egg with a teaspoon of water, then brush it onto each roll. sprinkle with sesame seeds. bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown and hollow-sounding when you tap the bottom.

for the cherry jam, combine the cherries, orange juice, and sugar together in a saucepan over medium heat. bring to a boil then simmer for 30 minutes, or until dark and thick. stir in the balsamic and simmer for another 5 minutes, then transfer into a bowl and let cool.

for the bacon, heat the oven to 375º. line a baking sheet with parchment paper and top with a wire rack. place the bacon on the rack, then use your fingers to cover each slice in a coating of brown sugar. bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the bacon is crispy and almost black. let cool, then break into pieces.

for the burgers, mix together the espresso powder, smoked paprika, and garlic powder in a small bowl. season the ground beef with salt and pepper. form into eight small patties, and generously sprinkle each one with the spice mixture. you cook these on the grill or stovetop — i chose to do them on the stove in a cast iron skillet. add the oil and butter to a skillet over medium-high heat, then add the burgers and cook for a few minutes on each side, topping each with a slice of cheese during the last minute.

to assemble, slice the buns in half with a serrated knife. spread each side with butter, then toast on the grill or in a skillet. top each bottom bun with cherry jam, escarole, a burger patty, and a few pieces of bacon. sandwich with the top bun and enjoy!

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