Not to toot my own horn, but that is a beautiful cookie. Dark chocolate, candied bacon, coarse sea salt, and homemade bourbon vanilla extract all came together to create this masterpiece.
This has been a cookie floating around in the abyss of my brain since November. You're probably wondering why its taken me so long to make, especially since there are other recipes online for Bacon Cookies. I had to wait on my Bourbon Vanilla Extract to, well, marinate (for lack of a better word.) See, its that extra rich, smoky extract which helps elevate these cookies to another level. So go ahead and treat yourself to a bottle of booze and some vanilla beans, and whip up your own extract. Go ahead; I'll wait.
Now, in the mean time, go ahead and try the recipe without the extract. I promise- it will still be delicious. Remember a while back when I said I was trying to get through a large bottle of Bourbon that I bought for the explicit purpose of making a special vanilla extract? Well, I'm still trying to get through that bottle. So this cookie gets an extra boost of bourbon-y goodness in the Candied Bacon. If you've never tried Candied Bacon before, you're in for a treat. Here comes a quick science tidbit- there are actually five different types of taste receptors on your tongue. Sweet, salt, sour, bitter, and umami. I whole-heartedly believe that combining two or more of these is the secret to delicious food, and Candied Bacon hits just the right balance of sweet and salty.
Candied Bacon is a great snack on its own, and so easy to make. For these cookies I only used 6 strips of bacon, as I didn't want to be grazing on bacon all day while I cooked. (Its really too yummy to resist.) Mix together your brown sugar and a bit of Bourbon (it can be the cheap stuff, if you like. I used Jack Daniels.) Dredge both sides of each bacon slice in the mixture and lay in a foil covered baking pan. Drizzle with honey or maple syrup. PLEASE- make sure to use a baking pan with sides or else you will have caramelized bacon grease dripping all over your oven. Trust me on this, as I speak from experience. Unless you WANT your house to smell like bacon each time you turn on your oven. Our family loves the smell, but its pretty disappointing when there is no actual bacon to back up the promising aroma. (I don't think I've ever seen my daughter so despondent as when I pulled some dinner rolls out of the oven the other day when she was expecting bacon.) Anyway, cover the bacon with another sheet of foil and bake at 400*F for 15-20 minutes, or until desired crispness. Set up your cooling racks over a paper towel lined cookie sheet and allow the bacon to cool completely on the racks, while simultaneously allowing the extra bacon grease to drain. Once cooled, dice and set aside. Six slices gave me one cup of diced candied bacon.
Now onto the rest of the recipe. Combine your flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside. In another bowl, cream the butter and sugars until fluffy and light. Add in a large egg (always making sure all of your ingredients are room temperature) and vanilla and mix. Slowly incorporate your flour mixture into your butter, a bit at a time. I like to do this by thirds, as I find it is easier to mix without overtaxing your dough. For this same reason, once the dough has come together I prefer to mix in my chocolate chips and bacon pieces with a wooden spoon.
These cookies spread a lot, so the dough must be chilled before baking. I recommend at least an hour in the fridge. At this point, before chilling, I go ahead and form my dough balls and layer them in a Tupperware container with wax paper. Not only do they chill faster and more evenly, but then its just grab and go when the time comes to bake.
When you're ready, preheat your oven to 350*F and prep your cookie sheets with parchment paper. Let me reiterate that these cookies spread a lot, so be sure to allow plenty of space between the dough balls when placing them on your cookie sheet. If you're worried about them spreading too much or if you prefer a more cake-like cookie, try adding another 1/4 cup of flour and 1 teaspoon of cornstarch.
Bake for 11- 13 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with sea salt immediately, so that the heat will help the salt stick. Allow the cookies to rest and cool completely on the cookie sheets. Normally I am a fan of cooling racks, as I love soft and gooey cookies and if you leave your cookies on the hot pan they will continue to bake a bit. But because of the extra liquid in the bacon these cookies need those extra few minutes of heat.
So if you know any bacon fans, surprise them with this cookie. I'm sure they will love it as much as I do.