Three words: Bacon. Fat. Gingersnaps.
December 18, 2015
Thank you, Lord, for not having me born into an observant Jewish or Muslim family. And thank you for pigs. Amen.
I continue to be astounded at the number of excellent things one can do with bacon. I thought perhaps I had reached the epitome of sweet-salty when I made my first beer-candied bacon a few years ago. The sweet, the salt, the smoke….ahhhhh.
I had not.
I was perusing the New York Times’ Cooking section, which is one of my bookmarked web sites in my “Food” folder, looking for ideas for new and different goodies for the Christmas treat basket/stockings. And I ran across Julia Moskin’s recipe for bacon fat gingersnaps.
I looked at it for two or three days. It fascinated me. I could imagine the smoky/salty taste of the bacon, playing against the only mild sweetness of the cookie, the tang of the spices and the crunch of the sugar coating. And I decided I had to try it.
Now, realize that I am my mother’s child. Which means I keep a crock of bacon grease in my cabinet at all times, to which grease is added every time I cook bacon. I’ve been doing this all my adult life. I could not cook without bacon grease. Couldn’t do it.
This called for three-quarters of a cup of it. That gave me a bit of a pause, but OK. I’m game. As it called for strained bacon grease, I heated mine up and strained the requisite amount through a paper-towel-lined strainer into a measuring cup, which I then chilled.
From there, it’s pretty straightforward. You put the bacon fat, and all the other ingredients, in a food processor, and pulse until it comes together in a dough, like pie crust. Said ingredients being:
- 3/4 cup bacon fat, strained and chilled
- 1 cup granulated sugar, plus extra for rolling
- 1 egg, slightly beaten
- 1/4 cup sorghum molasses
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
Once that comes together into a ball, wrap it in plastic and refrigerate it, at least two hours and up to overnight. When you’re ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350, roll dough into one-inch balls, roll in sugar, and put on a parchment-lined cookie sheet about two inches apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned. They’ll spread out to about the size of a vanilla wafer.
Three things. I cook Wright’s bacon, which is very smoky, very salty, very bacon-y. The bacon is STRONG in these cookies, folks. I might perhaps cut the bacon fat back a touch. Just a touch, say a quarter cup, and maybe replace it with butter. I would also reduce the salt next time, maybe to a mere 1/2 tsp. These were pretty salty. I’d also increase the spices to play better with the intense smokiness of the cookies. In fairness, it may be that my ginger and cinnamon were on the aged side.
Nevertheless, these sweethearts are GOOD, and a definitely worthwhile addendum to the holiday gift baskets. I may perhaps make another recipe of them before basket assembly time; a recipe will make between 4 and 5 dozen.
Which is significantly less than the almost 12 dozen mini-cupcakes you can make out of a recipe of Eudora Welty’s white fruitcake batter. I know this because I did this yesterday, as well. Need to go get a squirt bottle today so I can soak ’em down in a little booze before I bag ’em up. Little fruitcakes are more work than big fruitcakes, but should go better in a gift basket.
I am also contemplating making alfajores, an Argentinian shortbread sandwich cookie with a filling of dulce de leche. Those sound pretty delectable. I’d like to make some rugelach, but that is probaby more work than I want to undertake. I may do something like that in a shortbread-style dough, rolled out, spread with a filling, rolled up, sliced and baked. We shall see.
In any event, you ‘n y’mama are welcome to come help cook. We’ll have us a big time playing in the kitchen.