I was living in a student flat at the time, and my flatmates were used to cooking my meals without the meat. I got a point where I couldn't sustain stored iron and decided I needed to reintroduce animal to my diet, and I thought serving up a non-vegetarian bowl of ice-cream to my flatties would be a novel way of telling them.
These cookies are in the same sweet/salty/savoury category as the ice-cream, but I think make more sense to the tastebuds. The bacon is candied, which brings the texture more in line with normal cookie bits - think of dried fruit - chewy but not too chewy.
The candying is really easy (though baking paper, foil or a silicon mat is essential if you want to reuse your oven tray!) - just liberally coat bacon in brown sugar and bake for a while. I probably used about a tablespoon of sugar per piece of bacon, but since bacon varies in size I'd recommend you just use enough that both sides of the bacon are well covered. There were a couple of bits that I didn't get a good sugar coating on and they didn't meld into the cookies so well, so be liberal (this is hardly health food, after all!).
Turn the bacon over midway through, and drag any bits that are looking less sugary through the syrup on the tray. Toward the end watch carefully - as you can see mine did burn a teeny bit around the edges. Because of the sugar involved this resulted in an unnecessarily large cloud of smoke and a panicked rush to the window to open the electronic windows, which is actually completely pointless (the rushing part, that is) because the windows take about 30 seconds to open so it's not like making haste changes anything. Fortunately the fire alarm didn't go off. The cookies are good but perhaps not quite good enough to make amends to the whole building for a late-night evacuation!
When the bacon is cooled it'll get reasonably firm and quite easy to cut with scissors - make the pieces quite small, as it's more about the overall salt/sweet balance and a bit mouthful of meat might not be optimal.
You could probably keep the bacon around for a few days (airtight container in the fridge) if you didn't want to use it straight away (though it's pretty tasty on its own, actually - it might not last as long as you think!) but I threw mine into cookies pretty much straight away. I used my favourite chocolate chip cookie recipe, with good quality dark chocolate. I completely rate the cookie recipe (everyone always loves the cookies) but the concept would work with your go-to recipe as well - I do recommend keeping the chocolate dark, though.
I saved some of the bacon aside (as well as eating a fair bit - I used 8 rashers but you'll see the recipe only calls for 5-6 - they didn't all make it into the cookies!) and placed a little piece on top of each cookie to make the bacon a little less covert. It's still not very obvious, though, and I don't think anyone identified the secret flavour without serious hints, even after eating.
They are great - I couldn't stop eating them, and definitely had more than my share! - and have an added flavour dimension. I often find cookies (even these, my absolute favourites) too sugary and the bacon really helped round out the sweetness. It was a slight hint of savoury, a bit of a salty kick, and the occasional subtle note of true meatiness. Most of my colleagues tasted them without knowing what they were and commented that they were delicious, failed to identify the secret ingredient and then nodded knowingly when I told them.
You could add more bacon if you wanted (I kept some out) but I think this was pretty good - not too meaty (they are cookies after all) but enough flavour that it had an effect on the overall cookie experience.
What do you think - do you like salt with your sweet, or does this sound too weird?
Chocolate Chip Bacon Cookies
5-6 rashers of bacon (I used middle bacon)
5-6 Tbsp brown sugar
180g butter, melted and cooled
1 cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup sugar
1 egg + 1 yolk
2 tsp vanilla essence
2 cups plus 2 Tbsp flour
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 ½ cups semi-sweet choc chips
Preheat oven to 200 C.
Line a baking tray with baking paper, tinfoil or a silicon mat. Coat each piece of bacon with brown sugar, covering both sides. Place in the oven for about 15 minutes, then turn the pieces over, ensuring all pieces are well coated in sugar. Cook for a further 10-15 minutes, watching carefully to ensure they don't burn. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
When cool enough to handle, cut into small pieces with scissors.
For the cookies, preheat the oven to 160 C.
Beat together butter and sugars, then beat in egg, yolk and vanilla. Mix together flour, baking soda and salt in another bowl then add and mix until just combined. Mix in chocolate chips.
Bake for 11-14 minutes – cookies should be light golden brown with slightly hardened edges but centres still soft. Cool for a few minutes on the tray before transferring to a rack to cool fully.