Sunday, June 8, 2014

Cocoa Piggies

A few years ago, I started seeing a number of cookie recipes with bacon added in. I thought the concept was interesting but just never got around to tasting or trying it.

I don't eat a lot of bacon but do enjoy an occasional BLT - or versions thereof. I also like it as a topping on a pizza, done crisp and chopped to add to a salad or on top of Mac and Cheese.

Generally, I don't buy a lot of bacon as it can get rather pricy - especially if you are trying to find packages that are more meat than fat!

However, a few weeks ago I hit a good sale on bacon and managed to find a few packages that looked relatively meaty.

I looked at a number of bacon cookie recipes and also checked out reviews. There were two specific types that piqued my interest: 1) the chocolate, chocolate chip and bacon cookie and 2) the peanut butter, chocolate chip and bacon cookie. Both sounded good and I contemplated making both varieties.

Then it hit me. Why not literally combine both types into one cookie recipe! I could make both recipes at the same time in the same bowl! I redid my search and looked for recipes with almost identical ingredients and similar quantities. They also had to be ones that baked at the same time and temperature. The only major differences would be that one would call for peanut butter and the other for cocoa powder.

I do have a chocolate, peanut butter chocolate chip cookie recipe already in my collection and I suppose I could have just added crispy bacon to that (I will try that eventually) but I really wanted to attempt to combine two recipes. I hadn't done that before.

I finally settled on two recipes: Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Bacon Cookies (which I would cut in half except for the cocoa powder) and Peanut Butter BaconChocolate Chip Cookies. The ingredients, quantities, methods and baking were similar enough that I figured it would work fairly well. I eliminated the salt from both recipes as there is more than enough salt in the bacon, peanut butter and even the margarine! I also upped the bacon slices from 6 to 8.

The batter came together quite well - even though it was a bit greasier than I anticipated it would be once all was said and done. I contemplated adding a bit more flour but decided to bake up a pan first to see how they came out.

Thankfully, I didn't add the extra flour as it definitely was NOT needed! The dough was easy to work with and baked up beautifully on the parchment paper lined pans! The second time I made this recipe, I let the bacon drippings cool a bit more and the dough was not nearly as greasy.

I hadn't flattened the first dough balls as I wasn't sure how much they would spread. In fact, they spread very little so for the remainder of the pans I rolled the dough into balls and flattened them slightly once I put the dough on the sheets.

Needless to say, the aroma in my apartment as these baked was amazing! Waiting till they cooled enough to eat wasn't easy! Would they taste as good as they smelled?

Yup! These were delish! Very chocolaty thanks to the cocoa powder and the chocolate chips. The crunchy peanut butter added flavour and texture. The bacon wasn't overwhelming but just about right! A taste in pretty much every bite and thanks to the drippings in the batter, a hint of bacon flavour in every bite.

Everyone who got a taste of these thought they were fantastic! I asked for name suggestions from the taste testers and my online friends and finally chose this one!

Cocoa Piggies

8 slices bacon, chopped (you will need 1/4 cup of the fat/drippings reserved after it is cooked)
3/4 cups white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup softened block margarine
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter (I use Skippy!)
2 eggs
1 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups chocolate chips

In a pan, fry bacon over medium heat until very crispy. (Note: that while it easier to cook bacon in the oven, for this recipe, it is advised to cook on the stovetop as you are also using the drippings) Reserve the brown drippings and fat - allow to cool completely before adding to the dough. It does not have to solidify but must be cool. You will need 1/4 cup. (If you have a bit more, you can discard or save the extra for another purpose. If you have a bit less than 1/4 cup add a bit more peanut butter)

Chop or crumble cooked bacon and set aside. (I got 1/2 cup once crumbled)

Pre-heat oven to 350F.

Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, cocoa powder and baking soda in a medium bowl and set aside.

Beat together butter, peanut butter and bacon fat (*note if you don’t want to use bacon fat, you can just use 1 cup of margarine and omit the bacon fat all together but it does give a better flavour with the bacon fat/drippings in it).  Add sugars and beat for an additional minute or two.  Add eggs and vanilla then beat for an additional minute.  Add flour mixture and beat until almost combined.  Lastly, fold in chopped bacon and chocolate chips. Dough may seem a bit greasy/oily at this point but it bakes out nicely and does not taste greasy in the end.

Form dough into medium walnut-sized balls, place about 2 inches apart on parchment paper lined baking sheets and flatten slightly. Bake for 10-12 minutes (depending on your oven and size/thickness of cookie). DO NOT over bake!
 Allow to cool in pan for a minute then slide the parchment paper with the cookies on it to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

Makes about 7 dozen cookies. They can be frozen - assuming they last that long!

Note: The cookies will harden up a bit as they cool and set. If you want a slightly softer cookie while eating, place them in a single layer on a plate in the microwave for a few seconds before serving.



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