I don’t do a lot of baking, so when I was confronted with the idea of baking I combined everything I love in the world and put it into a cookie. These things being bacon, bourbon, and chocolate. I wanted to make sure I maintained the essence of a classic chocolate chip cookie while upgrading it with thick cut bacon and delicious Kentucky bourbon. After a few tries and some research I think I have been able to find a great balance with this recipe. Give it a shot and let me know what you think.
2 hr 25 min Prep: 30 min| Inactive Prep: 1 hr 30 min| Cook: 25 min
3 dozen cookies
•12 ounces bacon, cut into 1/4-inch dice*
•2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
•1 teaspoon baking soda
•1 teaspoon salt
•1/4 teaspoon baking powder
•1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
•1/2 cup reserved bacon fat, chilled
•3/4 cup granulated sugar
•1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
•1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
•2 tablespoons bourbon liquor
•1 teaspoon vanilla extract
•2 large eggs
•8 ounces dark chocolate 65-percent or higher cocoa content, chopped into small pieces
In a large sauté pan, cook out the diced bacon until the bacon pieces are golden and crisp. Remove the bacon pieces from the fat and drain on a paper towel. Strain the fat through a fine sieve and measure out a 1/2 cup bacon fat and chill the bacon fat until it congeals and is set.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder in a small bowl. Beat the butter, chilled bacon fat, granulated sugar, light sugar, dark brown sugar, bourbon, and vanilla, in a large mixer bowl, until it is well combined.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; gradually beat in the flour mixture then add chocolate bits. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto parchment-lined baking sheets at least 3-inches apart.
Bake in the oven for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Keep in a dry, airtight container for up to 5 days.
Tricks to ensure the best cookies possible include:
Mix a Lot and Then Only a Little: The expression, “cream the butter and sugar” is one of the most commonly misunderstood steps in baking. At this early stage in a recipe, before any flour has been introduced, there is no risk of over-mixing. Now is the time to really let that stand mixer (or your arm) do its job, which by the way, is to make the sugar crystals cut into the butter and create air pockets that will help the cookies rise in the oven. While under-creaming isn’t the end of the world, it does mean that when you add the eggs, the dough will seem curdled (sprinkle in a tiny bit of flour to help bring it back together) and the final texture won’t reach its full potential. Once you do add the flour, keep mixing to a minimum. The liquid in the dough will activate the gluten in the flour and the more you stir, the tougher your cookies will be. Make sure the flour is fully incorporated but be careful not to over do it.
Chill the Dough: While it might be difficult to let a bowl of cookie dough sit it the fridge for 24 to 36 hours, this is, hands down, the best thing you can do to improve your chocolate chip cookies. Without getting too science-y, giving your dough an extended rest and chill, allows the ingredients to fully combine and that helps create beautifully browned cookies with more pronounced caramel notes. This trick requires very little effort, just a bit more time and patience. If you don’t have a full 24 hours, chill your dough for 12 or even 6 hours. Whatever you can spare is worth it.
Use (More) Salt: Just about every chocolate chip cookie recipe calls for salt and there’s good reason. Salt amplifies the chocolate and tones down the sweetness, making for a more balanced cookie. Recipes typically call for table salt but you can safely use an equal amount of fine sea salt in its place. Sea salt is more expensive but some bakers find table salt has a metallic or chemical-like flavor. Kosher salt is another option but brands vary so substitutions are less straightforward. Also, kosher salt is typically coarse, which isn’t ideal for most baking. Larger salt crystals, whether kosher or sea, are, however, great for lightly sprinkling on top of cookies. This is definitely a matter of taste, but in keeping with the on-going trend for salty-sweet desserts, salted chocolate chip cookies have been really popular recently.
Reconsider Your Baking Pan: Heavy-duty baking sheets or pans, lined with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper are the best surface for baking chocolate chip cookies. Avoid thin baking sheets, which can warp and lose their shape, and also stay away from any pans made of dark aluminum, which absorbs a lot of heat and has the annoying habit of burning the bottoms of cookies.