Saturday, May 10, 2014

Bacon Shortbread with Salted Stout Caramel

Becki somehow got this crazy idea that I should write a blog post for her. I was afraid to turn her down, because she sometimes invites me over and feeds me delicious food and keeps my wine glass filled. I really thought hard about what to make, and after some valuable input, came up with an amazing recipe. This isn't it. But, it's coming. Really. These cookies were born from a recipe that Becki shared last week. I am a sucker for browned butter. Did you know that if you brown the butter before making rice krispy bars, they turn into something otherworldly? They do. The other main ingredient in these cookies is rendered bacon grease. A whole cup of it. Who in the world has a whole cup of bacon fat? Turns out I have a friend who is a greasy gold hoarder. 

First things first, let's brown the butter. I always use my pan with a white interior for butter browning, I think it's easier to monitor the progress versus a dark non-stick pan. So, put your butter in a pan, cook over low heat until it is a nice golden brown and smells delicious and nutty, while continuously swirling your pan round and round and round. Don't brown it too much, this isn't burned butter. Browned. Don't even think about leaving your stovetop. You are stuck here for at least 8-10 minutes. Pour this into a bowl and let cool to room temperature. Add your cup of bacon grease to the butter, add the sugar, and cream it.
I had to use my hand mixer for this because my whisk attachment for my stand mixer has mysteriously disappeared. Hmmm....
Once the fats and sugar are fluffy and creamy, mix in the flour. The dough was pretty sticky at this point. It needs to be chilled before working with it. I made my dough into a log and wrapped it in plastic wrap so that when it was cold I could just slice off pieces of it, because I am far too lazy to roll and cut out cookies.
My kitchen helper and I sliced about 1/4" thick slices of the cold dough and arranged on a non-stick mat.
I baked these at 350 degrees for around 20 minutes. It's really hard to judge when they are done. They didn't get very brown, yet I feel like they are maybe slightly overbaked? Oh well. They still taste delicious. Shortbread cookies are great and all, but I felt like these needed a little more. Come on, they're going on a blog! I started thinking about a caramel drizzle. Becki and I recently discussed our distaste for those plastic wrapped caramel squares, so I knew it had to be homemade. And then I stumbled upon a recipe that used beer in the caramel. WHAAAAATTTT???? Yes. I decided to work with that. But as I was adding the butter to the pan, I had an idea.... why not replace half of the butter with BACON FAT? Right? Boom. Done. I fished that stick of butter out and removed half of it immediately.
Listen - You need to use a good heavier, sweeter beer for this. I used one of my favorites, Sugar Shack Maple Stout because then I could drink the rest of the bottle. The first thing you have to do is simmer about 1/2 cup of your beer (stout, porter, etc) over low heat until it is reduced by half. Did you know beer can burn? It can. Mine did. So, I microwaved round #2 until it was reduced and syrupy.
Meanwhile.... dump the rest of the ingredients into a large heavy pot and cook over low/medium heat, stirring frequently (don't let it burn on the bottom-yuck) until it reaches 244 degrees. This is also known as firm ball stage if you maybe can't find your thermometer. Ahem.
Pour the reduced beer into the caramel and stir. Beware of steam burns! I poured my caramel into a heat proof bowl and let it cool. So here's where things got a little... sticky. I had made the caramel before baking the cookies, so it was fairly firm. I decided to scoop little balls of caramel onto the still warm cookies so it would kinda oooze all over them.
I think it's perfectly acceptable to use a toy spoon from a tea set, right? Some turned out well, some got a little overly caramelly. I guess there are worse things, right?

** Round 2, I cut the caramel into strips. I let the cookies cool slightly, then cut small pieces of caramel and centered on top. It didn't melt right away, so I popped them back into the warm oven for just a minute or so.

After they completely cooled, I drizzled them with some chocolate chips that I just melted in the microwave.... around half a bag.
Guess what? These cookies are totally worth the potential diabetes and heart attack. They are THAT good. So good. So so so good.

So make them.

Printable Recipe Here

Bacon Shortbread with Salted Stout Caramel

Cookies
1/2 cup salted butter 
1 cup rendered bacon grease
1 cup cane sugar
3 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces chocolate, for melting over the top

Place butter in a small sauté pan with a preferably light-colored bottom so you can easily see the progress of the browning butter. Cook over low heat until it is a nice golden brown and smells delicious and nutty, swirling pan continuously, about 8-10 minutes. Don't brown it too much, this isn't burned butter. Browned. As soon as butter turns brown, remove from heat. Pour this into a bowl and let cool to room temperature. 

Add your cup of bacon grease to the butter, add the sugar and beat with a hand or stand-up mixer until fluffy, creamy and yummy. Mix in the flour and salt. Shape dough into a log and wrap in plastic wrap to chill for 1 hour. 

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Slice chilled dough into 1/4" thick slices and place on a cookie sheet. Bake for 18-20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool pan on a cooling rack for a minute or two. Using a spatula, move cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely. 

Caramel Sauce
1/2 cup good beer
1 cup cane sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup rendered bacon grease
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup corn syrup
1/2 tsp sea salt

In a small saucepan simmer beer over moderate heat until it is reduced by half. Remove from heat and set aside. Meanwhile, dump the rest of the ingredients into a large heavy pot and cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently until it reaches 244 degrees. This is also known as firm ball stage if you maybe can't find your thermometer. Ahem. Pour the reduced beer into the caramel and stir. Scoop 1 teaspoon of caramel over the baked cookies. Drizzle with melted chocolate over top and become the best cookie baker in all of history. 

4 comments:

  1. And you didn't invite your neighbor to share them? :(

    Seriously though, they do look delicious. You can never go wrong with bacon grease.

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  2. Sorry Marie!
    They were gone so fast! I'll have to whip up another batch :-)

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