I've mentioned here several times that I give away most of the treats I bake. Shane's coworkers are some of my favorite people to share with - they're open to lots of things and always very appreciative! One of Shane's buddies is leaving the company and today is his last day so I knew I needed to bake something special for him. I asked what he'd like and he said "anything with chocolate, bacon, or both." Ok, I figured could handle that, especially since I remembered that Susan from Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy had just posted candied bacon-chocolate chunk cookies a few weeks ago! Like Susan, I'm not crazy about the idea of sticking bacon in desserts but I do really love the combination of sweet and salty foods (popcorn or pretzels and chocolate - YUM!) so I thought I might actually like these cookies. I guess it didn't really matter what I thought though since the cookies weren't for me; I ran the idea by Shane and he gave it a thumbs-up so I got to work.
I made the candied bacon first, which was as easy as topping slices of bacon with brown sugar and baking until caramelized. Of course I sampled it before chopping it up for the cookies and oh my word, was it ever good! If it hadn't been earmarked for another purpose, I could have eaten a ton! It took longer than the recipe indicated for my bacon to achieve the dark, rich color I wanted, in part because of how much fat was rendered I think. Next time I'll put the bacon on a wire rack above the baking sheet before popping it in the oven.
Once the bacon was ready, I set out to make the cookies. Interestingly, the recipe called for cold butter, as opposed to room temperature or melted. Since the butter was cut into small pieces, it still creamed fairly easily for me. The cookies, once baked, were speckled with the candied bacon and chocolate chips and looked lovely. They were, however, quite thin. Shane and I both agreed that we'd prefer a slightly thicker cookie next time. The bacon isn't overpowering in the cookies. In fact, if you didn't know there was bacon in them, you probably wouldn't guess - you'd just think there was something slightly different about these cookies. The flavors were wonderful - salty and sweet all in one just as I'd hoped! Most importantly, these cookies got a thumbs-up from Shane's coworker who declared them an "epic choice for a last day treat."
Candied Bacon-Chocolate Chip Cookies
from Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy (who adapted the idea from David Lebovitz)
8 strips bacon
1/2 cup light brown sugar
Preheat oven to 400 F. Lay the strips of bacon on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, shiny side down (or on a wire rack placed on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil). Sprinkle half of the brown sugar evenly over each strip of bacon.
Bake for about 7-8 minutes then flip the bacon strips over and drag them through the dark, syrupy liquid that’s collected on the baking sheet. Sprinkle the rest of the brown sugar over the other side of the bacon strips and continue to bake until they're a deep mahogany color, about 7-8 minutes more (I let mine go a few extra minutes). Remove from oven and cool the strips on a wire rack.
Once cooled, chop the bacon into little pieces, about the size of grains of rice. (Candied bacon bits can be stored in an airtight container and chilled for a day or so, or stored in the freezer a few weeks ahead.)
Chocolate Chip Cookies
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup finely chopped candied bacon
Preheat oven to 325 F. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper.
Beat the sugars and butter together until smooth. Mix in the egg, vanilla, and baking soda. Whisk together the flour and salt, then add them to the batter. Stir in the chocolate chips and candied bacon.
Using a tablespoon-sized cookie scoop, scoop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets. Place the balls about 2 inches apart - I fit 8 per baking sheet. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until pale golden brown. Rotate the baking sheets from front to back and top to bottom halfway through if necessary to ensure even baking. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
The cookies can be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for 3-4 days.
Makes about 2 dozen cookies.