Bacon fat gingersnaps. Because everything is better with bacon. Even ginger cookies.
Bacon fat gingersnaps. Yep. You read that correctly. We’re not certain which we find more incredulous, the sheer brilliance behind bacon fat gingersnaps or the fact that said brilliance was first shared with the world by a fashion reporter. Yup. New York Times fashion critic, Cathy Horyn, broke the story about using bacon drippings with ginger cookies. Although as Horyn’s colleague, New York Times food writer Julia Moskin explains in the book CookFight, unlike a lot of froufrou fashion, these cookies aren’t mere novelty. Not at all. “I feel they are the cookie equivalent of Paris Fashion Week—a modern, edgy take on a classic,” explains Moskin. “The cookies are truly remarkable, with a robust and smoky undertone that sets them apart from other gingersnaps.” Yup. What she said. The bacony goodness that follows is from the recipe found in CookFight, based on a recipe that appeared in the Trinity Episcopal Church Recipe Book (1982 edition) courtesy of a Ms. Nelle Branson. We’ve been mumbling a lot of thanks to Ms. Branson with mouthfuls of these cookies.–Renee Schettler Rossi
Chocolate Bacon Fat-Crystallized Gingersnaps Variation
To make bacon fat gingersnaps gilded with chocolate chunks and crystallized ginger, follow the recipe above and stir in 2/3 cup chopped chocolate or mini chocolate chips and 1/2 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger. (Okay, fine, you can add more or less than these amounts to suit your taste.) We found that these add-ins tend to work better with slightly larger cookies (1 ounces or 28 grams). If making the larger cookies, you’ll need to bake them a little longer, figure 12 to 14 minutes.
Bacon Fat Gingersnaps
- 3/4 cup bacon drippings (from 1 to 2 pounds bacon) at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar plus more for the work surface
- 1/4 cup molasses (not blackstrap) or cane syrup
- 1 large egg
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 to 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt (See “David Says” below)
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Make the dough
- Toss all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the ingredients clump together and a dough forms. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least a few hours and up to 2 days.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Shape and bake the cookies
- Place about 1/4 cup sugar in a shallow bowl. Break off 1-tablespoon chunks of cookie dough (about 17 g) and roll them into balls. Drop them into the sugar, roll to completely coat the dough in sugar, and place them on the baking sheets, spacing them about 2 inches apart. If you prefer crisp cookies, gently flatten the dough; if you prefer chewy cookies, don’t mess with the dough any more.
- Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, until dark brown. Let cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes and then transfer them to a wire rack to cool completely. (We usually include storage advice here, but honestly, they didn’t last long enough for us to be able to say how well they keep.)
Forgive me while I reach for the nearest credenza because these bacon fat gingersnaps have caused me to go weak in the knees. (Ok, so maybe I exaggerate, but they are freakingly damn good.)
Between us, I wasn't in the mood to bake that afternoon. It was a gorgeous day, and the last thing I wanted to do was heat up the kitchen. But at the urgings of The One, I did. Smart move.
The dough literally comes together in minutes—that is, if you have bacon fat on hand, which I didn't. In my case, it took an additional 20 minutes or so to fry up enough bacon to get the requisite 3/4 cup of bacon fat. (That was just over 1 pound of bacon. What a hardship to have to eat bacon. The things I do for your sake, dear readers.) I refrigerated the dough for 12 hours, just because I was up to my eyeballs in Friday errands. Saturday afternoon, I rolled and dipped the cookies. I flattened them with the bottom of a drinking glass as I wanted the cookies to have a smooth rather than crinkled top.
When I pulled them out of the oven, The One was just coming up form the basement. "It smells like fall!" he shouted and headed for the rack of cooling cookies. He didn't say anything. Well, he couldn't say anything (his mouth was so full) until after his third cookie. Then he managed to utter, "Love 'em!"
Sadly, I only had a nibble. What a bitch of a time to cut sugar from my diet.
A few tips that I think may help when you make these marvelous gems:
1. Choose your bacon carefully. Some cheapo store brands are loaded with salt, which will make the cookies inedible. I used what I believe is an easily available brand for most of you: COSTCO's Kirkland bacon.
2. Taste the bacon fat before adding it to the dough. I know, I know, gross. But hear me out: If the fat is really salty, then add less than the full amount of salt in the recipe. Or add none. My bacon fat was just mildly salty so I added just 1 teaspoon salt instead of the full 1 1/2 teaspoons.
3. My cookies had a mildly smoky flavor. If you want a more pronounced smokiness, make sure you buy a heavily smoked bacon. Or, ahem, make your own bacon.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
I admit I’m not a gingersnap kind of girl. For me, there are better cookies just waiting to be eaten. Until now. These bacon fat gingersnaps were some of the best damn cookies I’ve ever had, gingersnap or not. Don’t let the bacon drippings scare you; they just add a slightly smoky and salty bite to an incredibly luscious cookie. I took them to a friend’s house tonight. His response, after he ate one bite, was “Good God, these are the best things I’ve ever eaten.” In light of my new love of gingersnaps, I’ve become a bacon-fat hoarder. I never know when the urge might strike. Soo-ee, here pig, pig, pig.
These bacon fat gingersnaps are some of the best snaps we’ve ever enjoyed. They’re easy to make, although I’d add the dry ingredients to the food processor before adding the bacon fat and molasses. It’s fun to ask your friends what they think the secret ingredient is in the cookie. They’ll be amazed, then ask for another cookie. Plus, your dog will love you more than ever.
I’ve never been much of a baker, but these bacon fat gingersnaps are extremely easy to make and have that gingery “bite” I love. Amazingly, none of us could taste the bacon fat, yet it worked amazingly well. I did use all-purpose gluten-free flour but I didn’t change any of the measurements in the recipe. They spread quite a bit, yet they were still a tad gooey in the middle. Yummm! If I had to choose between the aroma during baking and the taste while devouring them, I’m not certain which was better; all I know is that the cookies didn’t last long in this household.
Originally published December 04, 2017