Bacon fat. In cookies. Why I have never done this before? It seems so obvious, especially with a cast of characters that is comfortable with the savory side of life: eggs, butter, flour, oats. I’m surely not the first person to think of this, as a quick Google will show you, but it seems it took the never-ending winter of 2015 to push me into Bacon Fat Cookieland.
For that, my friends, we must offer up thanks. Thanks for the 897th snowstorm of the year; thanks for the dead car battery that kept me from the farmer’s market; thanks to my over-stocked pantry, which still offers up oats and flour, sugar and butter, nuts and chocolate, when I haven’t shopped in well over a month. Because these cookies: these cookies are pretty damn good. Bacon-y, yes; but with all of the tang of a molasses cookie, the moist & chewy texture of a classic oatmeal cookie, and the goodies of a kitchen sink/compost/cowboy cookie. These cookies have it all.
I made mine big – almost 4 inches across – and I like them that way; the middles stay moist & chewy while the edges are crisp and crunchy. (I did try some smaller ones and I didn’t like them as much; it was difficult to get the middle to the same moist & chewy texture). I sprinkled some with flaky sea salt prior to baking, but it didn’t make a lot of difference in the finished product. I like them best warm from the oven, but they are still great the next day, and the bacon flavor even more prominent in the cooled cookies. They do best on unlined, ungreased cookie sheets: I tried some on Silpat and they were actually harder to get off. Mostly, I can’t sing enough praises of the basic oatmeal cookie blueprint at Leite’s Culinaria that I used to make these; please, do take a look. It’s a wonderful and stress-free way to make the cookies your own.
So, go ahead Winter 2015; give it your best shot. I’ve got bacon fat cookies on my side. #winning
Developed based upon the excellent Best Oatmeal Cookies Recipe at Leite’s Culinaria
- 3 cups rolled oats
- 6 oz (¾ cup, 1 ½ sticks) butter, room temperature
- 2 oz (¼ cup) bacon fat, room temperature (solid)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ¾ tsp fine-grained sea salt
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp smoked paprika (I used hot)
- 1 cup raw sugar
- ½ cup molasses (I used blackstrap)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 9 oz (2 cups) whole white wheat flour
- 2 cups stir-ins (I used roughly ½ cup each of dried cranberries, chopped pecans, flaked coconut, and chopped dark chocolate + 2 tbsp flax seeds)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread oats on a rimmed baking sheet: toast in oven until golden and fragrant, about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool completely. You don’t have to toast the oats; but I always prefer them this way.
- In a large bowl, combine butter and bacon fat. Beat (with a stand or electric hand mixer, or by hand) until fluffy, about 1 minute. Add baking soda, salt and spices: beat until uniform. Add sugar and molasses: beat until well combined, scraping down the bowl at least once, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla: beat again until fluffy and uniform, scraping down the bowl, about 2 minutes.
- Add flour. Mix on low until fully incorporated. Mix in toasted oats (you may want to switch to stirring them in by hand). Add stir-ins (nuts, chocolate, etc.): mix until uniform.
- Drop by rounded 2-tablespoonfuls onto ungreased, unlined cookie sheets (I got 8 per sheet). Bake in the preheated oven until tops are no longer shiny and the middles feel just set, about 15 – 18 minutes (less time for smaller cookies). Allow to cool for 2 to 3 minutes on the cookie sheet, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
Yields about 3 dozen, 4-inch cookies.
- I think you could easily double the bacon fat, i.e. 4 oz (½ cup) bacon fat and 4 oz (1 stick) butter. Any more than that and you risk changing the structure of the cookie, I suspect (thinner and more crispy; not necessarily a bad thing). You could also take these over the top by adding candied bacon to the “stir-ins.” Although, every time I candy bacon, I end up just eating it. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
- I really love the “choose your adventure” oatmeal cookie guide from Leite’s Culinaria. If you want to swap out flours, sweeteners, fat, spices, or flavorings, be sure to check it out.
- These are strongly molasses flavored, so if molasses is not your thing, consider brown sugar or another of the “sweetener” options.
Loosely wrapped in a clean tea towel, at room temperature, for up to 2 days. After that, store in an air-tight container to prevent becoming stale.
The Cruelest Winter.