About a month ago, I shared my consternation at that least evil of all evils: having too much bacon fat stored up in my freezer (now I store it in the fridge). But after some thorough research into just what bacon fat is, along with some prodding by bacon-fat-hoarding friends, I came to realize just what liquid gold the stuff is.
Still, I had too much to use it up in sautés and frying. I had a lot. I was still flummoxed. And then I found the Bacon Fat Spice Cookie.
This recipe, which comes from Jennifer McLagen’s book Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes, uses 1/2 a cup of bacon fat, to glorious bacon-y results. You can’t just substitute bacon willy-nilly for butter in any cookie recipe (or maybe you can, come to think of it…). Whatever you think of a bacon-chocolate-chip cookie, these spice cookies really let the bacon fat shine. The smokiness of bacon plus the sweet spiciness of cloves, cinnamon, and ginger plus the treacly goodness of molasses make for one hell of a gingersnap.
These cookies are very, very simple, and I would wager fool-proof. As tasty as they are, I don’t know that they’re worth rendering bacon specifically to create fat; I think better (and more recessionista of you) to store your bacon fat away. Then these cookies truly seem like they sprang up out of nowhere. Because I had to filter out the yucky bits from my fat (discussed in the FAQ), I had to melt my bacon fat before using it; it worked fine, so I’d say you’re fine with melted or solid fat. I used blackstrap molasses, because it was all the co-op had, but its flavor is pretty strong; regular is definitely preferable. And, finally, ground cloves are freakishly expensive; I bought my again at the co-op in a little 75 cent bag, but be ready if you go to the grocery store — a container will run you around $9.
Bacon Fat Spice Cookies
Makes 20 to 24 cookies
Adapted from Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes, via Serious Eats
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 cup bacon fat (from about 1 pound bacon) — can be melted, which may make mixing easier
2 tablespoons molasses, preferably NOT blackstrap
1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. Combine the flour, 1/2 cup sugar, the salt, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves in a bowl and whisk until mixed. Add the bacon fat, molasses, and egg and beat until the mixture forms a soft dough.
3. Take level tablespoons of the dough and roll them into balls. Place the balls on prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Using a fork, flatten the balls slightly, and sprinkle them with the remaining tablespoon of sugar.
4. Bake the cookies until they are beginning to brown around the edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Let the cookies cool slightly on the baking sheets and then transfer to a wire rack.
5. Store the cookies in an airtight container for up to 1 week (they will not last that long).