We had a cookie exchange/Secret Santa shindig with the girls at work. Everybody was asked to bring a dozen cookies, preferably something that reminded them of home. I guess I didn’t hear this last part because I went ahead and made cookies my mother never would have made growing up.
But times have changed. Bacon continues to ride the wave of food-trendiness. You won’t see me with a “Keep Calm and Eat Bacon” tee shirt, but I like bacon as much as the next red-blooded American. Leave it to Martha Stewart to turn something as low-country as bacon into a sophisticated cookie that will wow your guests.
The brilliant part is that you POUR THE BACON GREECE INTO THE BATTER. Don’t let your arteries get into a tizzy – this batter has way less butter to account for the bacon fat, so the resulting cookie is chewy and spicy like a ginger cookie, but with something extra – the smoky smell of the hickory-smoked sea salt you sprinkled on top, plus a savory bite that enhances the rest of the flavors.
I was most surprised to find that I couldn’t really taste the bacon. So don’t expect a mouthful of bacon bits. Instead, it’s more of a flavor enhancement…
Smoky Bacon-Ginger Cookies
- 6 slices of good, thick-cut smoked bacon cut into 1/4-inch dice (this is not the time for off-brand bacon!)
- 2 1/2 c. flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 tablespoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons, plus 2 teaspoons unsalted butter, softened
- ¾ cup packed dark brown sugar
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1/3 cup unsulfured molasses
- 1/2 c. raw sugar for rolling
- smoked sea salt for sprinkling (I used hickory smoked sea salt from Williams-Sonoma, you can really smell the hickory!)
Set a large skillet over medium heat. Add bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon bits are crisp and have released their fat entirely. Reserve the bacon fat (you want about ¾ cup, plus 2 tablespoons) and set aside the crisp bacon (about ¾ cup as well) on a paper towel. Let the bacon and fat cool.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Mix the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, mix the butter and brown sugar and white sugar until they become fluffy together, about 3 minutes. Add the bacon fat and mix well, about 1 minute. Add the egg and mix until well blended. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour in the molasses and mix. On slow speed, slowly pour in the dry ingredients, mixing until just blended. Gently mix in the bacon bits.
Scoop 1 T of dough out and roll into a 1-inch ball, then roll in the raw sugar to coat entirely. Put the balls of dough 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Flatten the balls of dough with the palm of your hand, then top with a pinch of the smoked sea salt. Slide the sheet tray into the oven and bake until the edges of each cookie is starting to crisp, the tops start to crack, but the center is still soft, about 8 minutes. (Turn the baking sheet halfway through.) Do not be tempted to over-cook these. I would stick to 8 minutes at least for your first batch. These cookies do well when they are chewy in the middle.
Allow the cookies to cool completely on a rack, about 15 minutes.
Then plate up … with an Elf on a Shelf!
I never heard of the Elf on a Shelf tradition until I moved down here, but I love these little guys, hiding all over the house – Santa’s little snoops.
While I baked these cookies, Grant poured himself some Makers Mark, which goes well with the smoky nibbles.
And we enjoyed a silent night.
Here is the obligatory photo of my cat being forced to wear a reindeer outfit.
Happy Holidays, friends! xoxo