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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Bacon Fat Spice Cookies

Bacon Fat Spice Cookies
For as long as I can remember, I've kept bacon fat in my refrigerator. I'm talking before it was hip again. The talk of the town. I remember my grandma saving her bacon grease when I was little she'd fry up the best thin-cut pork chops in it. Her pork chops are a thing of legend amongst my siblings and I. As hard as I've tried, I've never been able to make them quite the way she does. I have my trusty cast iron skillet—just like she did. I have my rendered bacon fat—just like she did. It could have been the spice she used, but I'm pretty sure it was simply seasoned salt.

Of course, it could have been the pork itself. Or maybe it was just the fact that grandma made them.

So, a lot of people like to shovel blame back and forth about what is causing the obesity epidemic in the US (and world?) today. Some people blame cooking with fat. I find it hard to believe that cooking with fat (alone) is the culprit. Our great grandparents (and their great grandparents) have been cooking with fat for generations. I'm pretty sure it has more to do with processed food and immobility. Don't blame the beautiful bacon fat. Or lard (pure stuff, not the hydrogenated stuff made to last forever on the grocery store shelf). Or beef tallow. Or duck fat (liquid gold). Or even my friend butter.

Bacon Fat Spice Cookies
According to the book Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, "pork fat is mostly monounsaturated in the form of oleic fatty acid, plus it contains palmitoleic fatty acid, which has antimicrobial properties. Its saturated fatty acids are stearic acid, which coverts to oleic acid in the body, and palmitic acid, believed to have a neutral effect on cholesterol."

Don't throw out your jars of olive, corn, and coconut oil—just keep some of these age-old options for variety. Dare I say healthy variety?

Now, like any fat (or food), bacon fat should be used in moderation; don't make it a daily thing. When you make bacon, pour the grease through a wire-mesh strainer and into a jar. Let it cool to room temperature, then cover and store it in the fridge. If  you do this, it'll be ready and waiting when you want to use it to cook some eggs or potatoes in. Or maybe even make a batch of cookies.

Bacon Fat Spice Cookies
These chewy spice cookies have a light sugar crust on the outside, and are made using rendered bacon fat. Waste not, want not!
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Bacon Fat Spice Cookies
by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 5 minutes (+ 1 hour in fridge)
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Keywords: bake dessert dairy-free nut-free soy-free bacon fat spice cookie

Ingredients (20 cookies)
  • 1 1/4 cups (5 ounces / 150 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (3.5 ounces / 100 grams) + more for rolling
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (3.5 ounces / 100 grams) rendered bacon fat, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
Whisk the flour, sugar, salt and spices in a medium bowl to combine. Add the bacon fat, molasses, and egg to the bowl, and mix with a wooden spoon until mixture forms a smooth dough.

Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350° F. Line 1 or 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Fill a small bowl with an inch or so of sugar.

Scoop the dough by level tablespoons into the sugar and roll to coat. Set on prepared baking sheet(s). Dip the tines of a fork in the sugar and press it with gentle force onto the top of each cookie to make an indentation and flatten the cookie a bit.
Bacon Fat Spice Cookie dough
Slide the tray into the preheated oven and bake until the edges just start to turn golden, about 10 minutes. Let cook for 2-3 minutes on the sheet before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Once completely cool, cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week (but come one, they won't last that long).

-slightly adapted from Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes by Jennifer McLagen
Bacon Fat Spice Cookies
*this post was originally published on 12/13/10, it was updated and republished on 2/17/15

More uses for your reserved bacon fat:
Bacon Fat Spice Loaf (a variation on Lardy Cake)
Bacon-infused Vodka