I’ve been tormented by a cookie recipe for months. Does anyone else ever get stuck on things like this?
I was turned on to the idea of bacon + cookies by a friend, who at the time was managing at an upscale coffee shop. I stopped by for one of his erethreal capuccinos, and we got to talking about their pastry case. Specifically, the bacon-topped oatmeal raisin cookies. He claimed to eat approximately three a day, and had a hard time describing the supreme concerto of chewy-salty-sweet-smoky they made in one’s mouth (“It’s like…aaaaugh…erghhhhh…” He gestured helplessly in the grasp of such gustatory nirvana.)
I was skeptical. At the time, I wasn’t really into bacon. (I know, heresy.) And how much can you trust a recently ex-vegan’s opinion on bacon? When you’ve abstained from it for five years, yeah, I bet it tastes awesome on everything! I left without trying a cookie, but nonetheless, the seed was planted.
And then Shauna Ahern posted about it. I tried her recipe three times before giving up. Each result was completely different, and I could never seem to render as much bacon fat as she did to complete the dough. Defeated by a cookie? For the time being, I was.
I managed to forget about this cookie for months. And then…something possessed me on a gray unemployed afternoon to take another stab at these. But this time, I needed a good molasses cookie recipe as a base. My ideal cookie is the one remembered from days slinging coffee at Starbucks: chewy, well spiced, and surprisingly, vegan. I went to Pinterest for some ideas, and Ina Garten’s recipe came up a dozen times in a search for “chewy molasses cookie.” Of course! Why hadn’t I gone to the venerable Barefoot Contessa before??
So Ina’s recipe? It is amazing in and of itself. I made it once sans bacon, and subbed a flax egg because a vegan friend was visiting that afternoon. (Obviously, gluten-free flour made an appearance on behalf of the all-purpose.) They were a huge hit, and I was confident enough to add bacon next time.
Yesterday afternoon, everything fell into place. I had some free time after a coffee date, thick-cut nitrite-free bacon in the fridge, and the lighting was beautiful to boot. (Savannah has presented a lot of difficulties with photography, as it’s so darn sunny here all the time. I miss that clear diffused light of the northwest. However, it’s been miraculously gray here for the last two days, and the afternoon light that usually blazes through my kitchen window was just right.)
I fried up some bacon, beat together a quick dough, and for the first time, the results were just as they had played out in my head for months: soft & chewy, salty, sweet, smoky. Our taste testers agreed. A vegetarian may have taken a bite (but I’ll never tell).
I took two to a job interview later that evening, and I suspect they sealed the deal. You’re looking at the new innkeeper for a local bed & breakfast!
So I’m not saying these cookies will cure unemployment or convert vegetarians. But. You should really make them.
- 6 strips bacon
- 1-2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1 c. brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1/3 c. molasses
- 1 egg (or egg substitute)
- 3/4 c. white rice flour
- 3/4 c. millet flour
- 3/4 c. tapioca starch
- 1 tsp. xanthan gum
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. ground cloves
- 1 tsp. ground ginger
- ½ tsp. nutmeg
- Sugar, for rolling
- Smoked sea salt
- Preheat oven to 350F and oil two baking sheets or line with a Silpat. Set aside.
- Fry bacon over medium heat until crisp. Drain on paper towels and set aside until cool. Chop bacon into 1/4” dice once cooled and set aside. (I cut off the chewy fat ends of some pieces and did not include them.) Reserve bacon drippings.
- Pour bacon drippings into a measuring cup. You’ll need ¼ c. of fat total—add a few tablespoons of vegetable oil to make up the difference, and pour into the bowl of an electric mixer. Add brown sugar and molasses, and beat 5 minutes with paddle attachment, stopping a few times to scrape down the sides. Add the egg and beat for 1 minute longer.
- Sift remaining dry ingredients together, and add to molasses mixture in 3 additions. Once dough is smooth, mix in ¼ c. chopped bacon, reserving 2 Tbsp.
- Chill dough for 30 minutes in refrigerator, or 10 minutes in freezer if you can’t wait, until you are able to roll into 1 ¾” balls. (This is easiest if you have a scale handy—the perfect size is 1.5 oz. of dough for each cookie.) Roll dough balls in sugar, and place 6 on each prepared baking sheet. Smash to ½” thickness with your palm, and sprinkle a pinch of sea salt and a few bacon pieces on each cookie, pressing lightly into the surface.
- Bake 13 minutes in preheated oven. Cookies will appear very soft still, but firm up as they cool. Allow to cool on pan 5 minutes, or until you can safely remove them to a cooling rack.