I broke my own rule, guys. Broke it and giggled and thought about how I would need to come clean about it on here, after making the bold statement that nuts, in any form or format, don’t belong in cookies. Or brownies, for that matter. But twice in two weeks I’ve added them, on my own volition, at my own whim, to two different recipes, and liked them. Hell, I enjoyed them.
The first of these two cookies is an unconventional one, and I respectfully request that you not gag until you consider it from all angles. I read recently about a depression-era cookie that used an alternative fat to butter and I thought it was novel. Waste not, want not, yes? And I’ll admit now that I have one of these in my refrigerator:
That, folks, is a can containing the rendered fat of many a slice of bacon. My mom has a can like this, my grandmother has a can like this, and I’m sure my great grandmother had a can like this too. It’s saved for a rainy day, for making scrambled eggs when we have no bacon, for greasing a skillet or frying anything that would taste good fried in rendered bacon fat. And I dare you to answer: what wouldn’t be good fried in bacon fat?! You haven’t lived until you’ve made taco shells in it.
Judge not, dear readers. I don’t go frying everything in bacon fat, and we don’t eat a ton of bacon. This little can kicks around my fridge for ages before it’s used for something big. It takes a lot of bacon to get a good sized can going! When I do use it, it’s a teaspoon here and there to start a stew, sauté aromatics for a soup, etc. It’s a flavor, not an ingredient.
Well, it wasn’t an ingredient until last weekend, when I scooped out a whole cup of it and made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies with it. Do not knock this until you try it. And if you don’t plan to try it, you don’t get to knock it either. Lovers of bacon, circle your wagons and listen in!
So, I essentially swapped butter for fat (which is to say, fat for fat) in my favorite oatmeal cookie recipe. Half brown sugar and half white sugar to get some of the crispiness back in them, a bag of the darkest chocolate chips I could find, and a handful of chopped, toasted pecans. The result was ridiculously good, rich on the first bite and bacony at the finish, but gently so. It wasn’t a supremely porcine mouthful at all.
If you decide to do this, make sure your bacon fat is good and cold. Stick it in the fridge until it’s as solid as solid can be. You can freeze it for a bit if you’d like instead. You want it to be softened butter consistency, and it won’t get truly, completely solid. When you get ready to make your cookies, premeasure and premix your dry ingredients and have the wet ingredients ready to go, and preheat your oven. Be ready for the notion that you may have to stick the bowl in the fridge for a while so the dough sets back up, as the grease gets warm really quickly. Cream your fat and sugar fast, add your eggs, and get busy adding the dry ingredients. No dallying!
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bacon Cookies
Makes about 3 dozen, depending on the size of your cookie scoop
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. dark brown sugar
1 c. bacon fat
1/2 c. milk (whatever you have on hand is fine)
1 t. vanilla extract
4 c. quick cooking oats
1 c. all purpose flour
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
1 t. baking soda
1 bag dark chocolate chips
1/2 c. chopped toasted pecans
Preheat oven to 350*F. In a medium bowl, stir together flours and baking soda and set aside. In a small bowl, combine milk and vanilla extract and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a large mixing bowl, cream together the solidified bacon fat and sugar. Quickly beat in eggs, one at a time, and then the milk/vanilla mixture immediately after.
Add in the flour mixture in one go, and stir/gently mix to just combine all ingredients. Stir in chocolate chips and pecans.
At this point, if your dough seems soft, stick in the fridge for an hour or so until the dough firms up a bit. Once ready, drop onto a parchment lined cookie sheet in mounds about 2 T. in size (I like big cookies) or use your favorite cookie scoop (mine is a #3). Give them a bit of room to spread out, and bake for 10-12 minutes at 350*F. Remove from the oven and let them rest for 2-3 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack until room temperature.
The dough also freezes really well, just scoop out onto parchment-lined trays like you’re going to bake them, then pop them in the freezer until they’re solid. Put them into a plastic bag, label with the date, and they’ll keep in your freezer for about 3 months. To bake, put as many as you’d like on a a baking sheet, and bake for 12-15 minutes, no need to defrost.