I first came across this recipe in The New York Times in 2005 and remember being horrified yet intrigued. I don’t usually take procrastination to this extreme, but when does one have 3/4 cup bacon fat just lying around? Sure, I’ve made a few batches of chocolate-covered bacon in the years since, but that’s always using precooked bacon, which isn’t as fatty.
Since I was craving BLTs last weekend, I finally had a reason to cook up 1.5 pounds of bacon (doesn’t yield as much bacon as you’d think). I stuck the fat in a jar in the fridge (and at one point, in Pie’s face. Vegetarians don’t like it when you do that.), but let it come to room temperature before making the cookies later in the week.
Verdict? It’s a salty-sweet spice cookie with a touch of porcine goodness. I found the bacon flavor to be mild–not sure I would have noticed it if I didn’t know it was in there–but others found it pretty powerful (in a bad way).
A few modifications to the NYT recipe below:
- I used a mixer to form the dough. Seemed to work as well as a food processor.
- I doubled the amount of ginger powder but would add even more next time. That’s a personal preference–I like a mild bite from my gingersnaps. Taste the raw dough to gauge the spiciness, salmonella be damned.
- The pieces on top were crystallized ginger (Ginger People). Read the label on the package to make sure they use baby ginger, or you could wind up with the super fibrous kind. Unless you’re serving your gingersnaps with a side of floss, you don’t want that.
- If your bacon fry-up party doesn’t yield 3/4 cup bacon fat, make up the rest with room-temperature butter.
- Don’t use flavored bacon (e.g., apple- or maple-smoked). It’ll affect the taste. I used Trader Joe’s regular bacon.
- Spread out your dough balls on the cookie sheet. Give ’em room.
Swedish Ginger Cookies
From The New York Times article here:
Adapted from Nelle Branson in the “Trinity Episcopal Church Recipe Book,” 1982 edition. Bacon fat can be substituted with 1 1/2 sticks butter; for the authentic cookie, though, bacon fat is the key ingredient. Makes 40 cookies
3/4 cup bacon fat, cooled (from 1 1/2 to 2 pounds Oscar Mayer bacon)
1 cup sugar, plus 14 cup for dusting the cookies
4 tablespoons dark molasses
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine all ingredients. Spin until dough forms.
3. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for a few hours. Drop the dough in 1-tablespoon lumps on a cookie sheet, form into balls, roll in sugar, space 2 inches apart and press flat with fingers.
Bake in the oven for about 10-12 minutes until dark brown. Let cool on baking sheet for a few minutes, then transfer to a baking rack to finish cooling.