Tag Archives: cookies

Pop Tart Prowl

Sometimes an event comes along that you just can’t say no to, I mean, how can you turn down a pop tart?

Eating pop tarts has been a pleasure reserved for my adult life only. Growing up my mUm never allowed such things in the house, not that I felt deprived mind you, considering her baked goods and my own creations were far superior to a dubious box of fat, sugar and preservatives from the store.

Last year while languishing on my dearest friend L’s couch in front of a crackling fire in the wilds of Santa Fe (and I mean it when I say wild. The coyotes were circling the house that night and the Great Horned Owls were crunching away on the gravel on the roof, it was mind-blowing.) my dear pal asked me if I wanted a pop tart. It was 10:00 pm, we were watching silly movies and had consumed ridiculous portions of posole not all that long ago. Naturally I said yes and a few minutes later she delivered into my grasping hands a serviette with a steaming hot toasted apple cinnamon pop tart. It was flaky, with a well seasoned fresh tasting apple filling with plenty of cinnamon. We promptly had one more each and some tea and then just as promptly zonked out on our respective perches like a pair of tired toddlers.

Later, I was delighted to learn that the pastries came from Natures Path and that they were organic and pretty clean otherwise. My guilt felt assuaged somewhat but in my heart of hearts I missed my Mom’s jam turnovers, my childhood pop tart equivalent. I have never attempted them because of my dread fear of rolled dough but this is something I plan to rectify soon.

So fast-forward to the present day and to my meeting the tres charmant Rachel Saunders and her incredibly lush book on jam. Rachel created the Blue Chair Fruit in the East Bay and has been making and selling her incredible jams at various farmer’s markets in the Bay Area and online. I lucked into a copy of her newly released book and it is well littered with post its and slips of notes of the recipes I plan to try and photos I just cannot stop gazing upon. Her book has taken up permanent residence on my lap and I cannot wait to tell you more about it (soon!).

A local eatery in Berkeley announced they were having a pop tart party using Rachel’s jams and that she would be there in person to sign her incredible book so naturally I inked that invitation into my calendar and was delighted when my pal Luna of Luna’s Kitchen Magic said she could join me. Who better than my sister-friend, a trained pastry chef, to accompany me on a quest for pop tarts.

This Saturday, a bus trip, a BART train, another bus and a long walk later, we arrived at Summer Kitchen Bake Shop‘s door. It was most definitely worth the effort to get there to see the darling Rachel again, and to eat pop tarts! We received a warm greeting but Rachel had a line of eager fans waiting to chat and over her shoulder I spied trays of pop tarts so we sidled by and headed to the cashier.

We ordered one of each of Summer Kitchen’s pop tart creations to munch along with a cup of Blue Bottle coffee for me and an omlette sandwich for the both of us.

The eatery is adorable, high ceilinged and a long counter in front of the grill with a few tables in front on a charming stretch of College Street. We snagged a few stools at the counter and began watching the show, our sides warmed by the pizza oven that anchored the end of the space. It was really challenging to perch like vultures and watch the grill cook make plate after plate of gorgeous sandwiches knowing we couldn’t order everything.

But first we gazed upon the gorgeous pop tarts. Look. Drool. Don’t you wish you were there?

The sweet pop tart had slices of the first of fall’s new crop of Fuji apples topped with Blue Chair Fruit strawberry jam, drizzled with royal icing and dashes of sugar sprinkles. The savory pop tart was filled with Blue Chair’s spiced tomato-bourbon conserve and goat cheese, and topped with shreds of Parmesan. Holy cow! They were simply fantastic. Flaky, thin, buttery pastry, still warm from the oven, pleasantly plump with the fillings and so tender. My toes were wriggling with delight as I nibbled slowly, trying to make them last, washed down by the mother’s-milk of Bella Donovan blend from Blue Bottle. I was beginning to regret only ordering two to share.

Meanwhile, our deft grill cook had crisped thick slabs of my personal local favorite bacon from Golden Gate Meats, slivered an avocado and turned out a perfectly blonde curling shell of a four egg omlette awash with fresh herbs and butter into a soft torpedo roll. Why have I never thought of an omlette sandwich before? It was ridiculous, as Luna is fond of saying.

Nirvana.

I was distracted by the sight of the pastry chef making more pop tarts. Scrutinizing her technique and taking notes we watched her roll out sheets of pastry, top with the juicy apples and dollops of ruby red jam. How I coveted that huge bottle of jam! Behold, the birth of a pop tart.

While they were baking the grill cook made tiny sliders of beef patties topped with blue cheese, piled them into a torpedo roll slathered with tarragon aioli and heaped with mounds of steaming mahogany caramelized onions, slices of pink heirloom tomatoes and handfuls of wild arugula. I am smitten.

Sadly, most of pictures did not come out. The cook was grinning at me shyly as I tried to capture the action, occasionally pausing to let me snap a shot. Now more than ever I wish I had a camera!

Then, to my right, the pastry chef pulled out a huge tray of naked chocolate cupcakes and scooped huge spatulas full of cream cheese frosting into her KitchenAid to fluff up before piping it into graceful spirals on the cakes. Our seatmate, a precocious 5 year old, scored a spoonful of frosting, lagniappe from the chef, lucky thing. The chef scattered chocolate pearls on top of the cupcakes and popped them onto pretty cake stands. If only I could have eaten more!

Then the grill chef began making crispy chicken sandwiches and grinned when I piped up that bacon and avocado would go well with that sandwich, and more of that custard yellow aioli. I realized I wasn’t the only one watching the action. Intently peering through the counter and offering play-by-play was a young man, perhaps 10 years old. Young Jerry is a foodie in the making, he was commenting on the aioli and I explained what that was. He smacked his lips. We watched another burger torpedo being prepared. He hadn’t tried that one, he explained, and sidled over one stool closer to me. I remarked that I hoped the grill chef would make a chicken sandwich again, and then he did! Amazed, Jerry asked how did I know the cook was going to do that? “Magic”, I said, and grinned, then Jerry asked me if I played cards, like Pokemon… His dad laughed and asked Jerry to return to his seat and they finished their pop tarts. Little Romeo!!

Luna and I watched as another batch of fruit pop tarts got their slathering of icing and sprinkles and sadly bid the cooks adieu.

We were delighted to meet in person Charlene Reis, the owner of Summer Kitchen, with whom we had been chatting incessantly on Twitter, and made plans to have a craft night soon. Rachel introduced me to her charming husband and helped me select jars of her jams to take home. I was thrilled to score the last jar of the spiced tomato-bourbon conserve and we agreed bourbon was a magical ingredient, like vanilla, but better. I exclaimed over my last purchase of Rachel’s blood orange marmalade and told her how that jar, which I bought at her book signing at Omnivore, disappeared in two days with the help of an Acme herb slab, Manchego cheese and some prosciutto, quite possibly the best sandwich I have ever invented. Another jar of Rachel’s three fruit marmalade got stowed away in my bag and Luna and I made our farewells.

We strolled down the street and stopped into a sweet shop, several card shops and then to our next stop, Ici.

Ici is an ice cream shop that has an impressive pedigree, its owner worked at Chez Panisse no less, and they usually have a line several store fronts long. Somehow we chanced to be there at just the right time with no line and popped in for a scoop. I chose the lemon ice cream with pinenut praline and an ocean of hot fudge. The combination of creamy lemon and rich fudgy chocolate is truly magical. Luna hit one out of the park with her choice of pear huckleberry sorbet with burnt caramel sauce (picture here). We plopped on a bench in front, another minor miracle, and thoroughly enjoyed our little treat.

As we were leaving I noticed their decorations of crocheted ice cream cones and vowed to knit some soon.

We planned next to visit Amanda’s on Shattuck and decided to work off our breakfast by walking there.

Just like Calvin Trillin we decided to have a snack before lunch and stopped into Crixa’sCakes for tea and pastries.

Fall has arrived in Berkeley and I was regretting my sandals but was grateful for my new leaf-green velour fleece jacket. We sat outside at an iron table as leaves scuttled by on the cobblestones, sipping our steaming Moroccan mint tea and stunning Hungarian pastries. The Hungarian version of pirogue was very good, how can you go wrong with buttery pastry filled with potato, cheese and dill?

We fought a fork-dual over the last bite. Divine! But then we split a pastry amusingly called Fatima’s thighs. More of the buttery, flaky pastry was curled around a rich filling of walnuts, julienned apples, currants and scented with orange flower water, then heaped with powdered sugar. I dusted off my pants which were liberally dotted with sugar and was transported to a memory of eating beignets with a dear beau in steamy sticky New Orleans. We used to laugh that I should never wear black around powdered sugar, something that would have come in handy at Crixa’s!

Another reason to visit Crixa is a street sign pole outside that has been yarnbombed, it is just so adorable.

Awash in tea and feeling all buttery we continued our stroll through Berkeley, marveling at the odd fall clouds in the sky, a building decorated with sculptures of sea life, pots of tomato plants tucked away into doorways, and the unusual people who populate the area. It is so pleasant to stroll with a friend, to be able to walk without rushing. Luna slipped a small sack into my bag, a Springerlie cookie from Crixa, what a treat! We exchanged thoughts about soul mates, shared stories of our siblings and tales about ravens and crows as Brother Crow cawed above our heads.

Our next stop was Stonemountain & Daughter Fabric shop, a place awash with the cutest, kitchy fabric. An entire row of bolts was devoted to food designs and we danced down the aisle singing the Coconut Song, imagining an apron made with a coconut pattern and lime fabric for pockets. I could not resist a few yards of an adorable mushroom fabric. We are taking a sewing class there in a few weeks, and I will make myself an apron to cheer up my kitchen during our drab SF winter. Suddenly we imagined ourselves buying most of the store’s stock and sewing up creation after creation!

The imaginary budget depleted we headed out to Amanda‘s for their house-made spicy ginger aid and a crunchy garden salad. I was tempted by their array of spiced nuts, burgers, sweet potato fries and sodas but couldn’t manage another bite. Luna crunched her salad and shared her ginger ale, which was exceptional.

To my surprise it was nearing 4:00 pm! We visited the pretty library for a small break and then meandered to Trader Joe’s for dinner fixings. I treated myself to a rib eye and ingredients for a pizza dinner another night. How does pizza made of naan with smoked Gouda, Asian pear and prosciutto sound? I thought I needed to make a pot of caramelized onions next week too, and buy bags of sweet onions.

Lugging our goodies to BART, we luck out and the next train was in two minutes, and I was home in a half an hour. I quickly stowed my groceries before sinking gratefully down into a chair to slip on thick wooly socks and settle on the settee for a nap. Five hours later I woke up! Completely missing dinner means I can indulge in steak and eggs for Sunday breakfast!

It was great to explore a new area and have home-made pop tarts and all the other treats that day. I plan to borrow a friend’s kitchen soon to make jam from Rachel’s adorable book, and to make pop tarts perhaps on my next Girl’s Night In. Stay tuned!

…………………………..

Resources:

Blue Chair Fruit
Jam, jam classes and the Blue Chair Jam Cookbook here:
http://bluechairfruit.com/
Also at the Temescal and Grand Lake Farmers’ Markets

Summer Kitchen Bake Shop
2944 College Ave, Berkeley, CA 94705-2204
Open Daily 9am-9pm
(510) 981-0538

Ici
2948 College Ave, Berkeley, CA 94705
Open Daily
(510) 665-6054

Crixa Cakes
2748 Adeline Street, Berkeley, CA 94703-1205
Open Tue-Sat 9am-6:30pm
(510) 548-0421

Stonemountain & Daughter Fashion & Quilting Fabric
2518 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94704-2722
Hours: 11am – 5:30pm
(510) 845-6106

Amanda’s Restaurant (Feel Good Fresh Food)
2122 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704
Hours: 11am – 9pm
(510) 548-2122
http://www.Amandas.com

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Summer in My Kitchen, in January

Finished pepper

It has been raining almost non-stop for over 12 days, but today the sun peeked out and I felt like celebrating! When you need a bit of sunshine in your life, there is nothing better than eating a savory stuffed pepper for dinner or lunch. The combination of bright, happy peppers, savory meat and rice, tender vegetables, aromatic herbs and a touch of lemon make any gloomy day instantly illuminated with Mediterranean sunshine.

Sunny Stuffed Greek Peppers

4 red bell peppers (or orange or yellow or a combination)
1/2 # ground beef or lamb or pork (I used beef today)
1/2 c olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped – divided
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 c brown rice (I like TJ’s brown rice medley)
3/4 c cold water
1 tsp. Kosher salt, divided
pepper
1 zucchini, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 rib celery, diced
1 large tomato or 1 c cherry tomatoes, chopped
1/3 c fresh dill, chopped
1/3 c fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 tsp. dried mint (or 1 T fresh, chopped)
1/4 c pine nuts
1/2 c plus 3 T dry white wine or vermouth
juice of half a lemon
a handful of small fingerling potatoes

Prepare the peppers:

With a sharp knife cut off the tops of the peppers, ensuring a good 1/2″ of flesh is included with the top. With a small paring knife cut out the core and ribs, being careful not to cut through the fleshy wall of the pepper. Use a grapefruit spoon to remove all pith from the ribs and bottom, and also from the underside of the caps. Season inside with salt and pepper and set aside.

pepper collage
(eating foods with bright colors like these peppers is really good for you)

Make the rice:

In a small saucepan, add a teaspoon of olive oil and saute half of the onion, the celery and the carrot with 1/2 tsp of salt until soft. Add rice and water, stir and cover and cook 35 minutes. If you are using a different kind of rice be sure to adjust the cooking time, 20 minutes for long grain, up to 55 minutes for brown rice; arborio is also a nice rice to use).

Make the meat mixture:

In a skillet, add a teaspoon of olive oil and saute the other half of the onion and the ground beef or lamb until the meat is cooked through and the onion is soft. Add the zucchini, tomatoes and herbs, salt and pepper and saute for 5 minutes. Add 1/2 c of the white wine and cook for a few minutes more until most of the liquid has evaporated but a tablespoon or so remains. Add pine nuts and remove to a bowl. When rice is done, add to the meat mixture and combine well. Taste for salt and pepper and adjust as needed.

filling collage
(you can see the steam rising off the filling! If you have a little extra filling as
I did today, it is lagniappe for the cook, yeah….)

Stuff the peppers:

Use a covered dish that will hold the peppers snugly. I’m so lucky to have a Le Creuset tomato shaped pot perfect for the three peppers I was using for this recipe. I also have one of those Corning Ware covered casserole dishes with a glass lid that is the right size for 4 peppers. If you don’t have a dish with a lid, a pie plate or tart pan will work just as well, it will need to be sealed tightly with aluminum foil.

Add most of the olive oil to the pot, reserving a little for drizzling on top.

Hold a pepper in your hand and spoon the filling inside, filling it well and mounding it slightly. Place the stuffed pepper in the pot and repeat until all the peppers are filled. Fill the empty spaces in the pot with the small fingerling potatoes. If your potatoes are larger than mine (the largest was the size of my thumb), then cut them into wedges and place in the openings.

Drizzle the top of the peppers and potatoes with the lemon juice and the 3 T of wine. Place the tops back on the peppers, drizzle with the remaining olive oil. Place the lid on the pot (or cover with foil).

Picnik collage

Bake at 350 F for 1 hour.

Serves 4 for dinner, or 8 as a first course. If you are serving them for 8 people, halve the peppers instead of cutting off the tops (leave on the stem for effect, fill them and arrange in a casserole pan). Each serving gets a few potatoes on the side.

It is an excellent idea to have a slice or two of crusty bread to sop of the juices, a bit of feta cheese and some bitter greens (like arugula) also on the plate. If you like olives they would be a good addition to the party.

finished peppers

As I sit down tonight with my plate of stuffed peppers, just for a little while I will pretend I am in a villa in Greece, and hearing the ocean on the shore below me instead of the rain crashing against the window.

ευθυμίες!

Countdown to Christmas

Christmas is so close but every year it’s the same frisson of surprise right about now: Christmas is just around the corner!

My family all moved away from the City so Christmas has a dimension that’s new to me but familiar to many. Travel. Not only do I have to make all the usual preparations but I have to do them early so that I can get up to the country a few days before Christmas. Aaack! Where does the time go?

This year is a little different, however. Being on a strict budget with little room for necessities, let alone generous gifts, I have been dipping into my well of creativity to help make this a special Christmas for my loved ones.

This summer I started a variety of knitting projects to go under the tree. Fortunately for said budget the necessary yarn for these projects were already reposing in my stash. Each family member is receiving a knitted item lovingly made by me. The fun thing about knitting for someone else is that with each stitch I create I am thinking about the recipient. I think about how much fun I am having making the gift for them, how pretty or handsome the item is, how soft and plushy, the lovely yarn texture and its color, and how much they will enjoy wearing it.

The same holds true for the food items I make every year. It wouldn’t be Christmas if I didn’t make shortbread. The recipe was kindly given to me by Margaret Golbransen, my dear sister-in-law’s delightful mom. The recipe is from Margaret’s great-great-Aunt Violet in Scotland, and not only is it a symbol of the true delights of certain aspects of Scottish cuisine, but a most delicious, addictive cookie. Una makes it too every Christmas for our dad, and of course hers is so much better than mine, but nonetheless I don’t believe I would be allowed in the door without bringing some carefully wrapped containers of these cookies.

For years my repertoire of Christmas goodies has shifted like the sands of time. One year I baked enormous braids of cinnamon bread, homemade chocolate truffles with various fruity ganache centers, candied or spiced nuts, peanut brittle, English toffee, miniature loaves of cranberry lemon bread, candied ginger and pear breads, cheddar-beer-bacon loafs, or my favorite, the syrup soaked Meyer lemon breads.

This time last year I did not make any of the food gifts I usually do. mUm was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes right before Thanksgiving, which came as quite a shock to us all. She was not supposed to have any sugars or carbohydrates of any kind and that is a challenge any day, let alone during the holidays. Naturally, I didn’t want to seem unfeeling and dole out food gifts to everyone and leave her out, nor give something she couldn’t or shouldn’t have while she was struggling with complying with a new stringent food plan. Then, the unthinkable happened. Shortly after Thanksgiving her 2nd ever mammogram had an area of concern, and on Christmas Eve the doctor met with her to say she had breast cancer. Please note the tense of that verb, *had*. It took a *lot* of persuading on our part and of her friends to convince her to accept the treatment plan. We are all so grateful she did have the surgery and all subsequent tests (knock on wood) show she is cancer free. Santa gave us the greatest gift last year, and that is the future of many more Christmases with her. But until her surgery and followup exams and tests and this and that it was mid-March and no one felt very festive last Christmas. It was a sombering few months, sadly shared by far too many families. I feel like we were the lucky ones, and feel the joy and yet a touch of guilt for so many have lost loved ones in just the same way. Is it selfish to feel so happy? I hope not.

So this year, we are feeling terrifically joyous to be together. mUm says that if she has us all under one roof we could walk in with nothing but lint in our pockets and she would be delirious with the joy of the season. But I want to arrive with a few goodies in tow, not necessarily the sugar/carb fest of years past but fun nonetheless. This year we celebrate!

But what to bring? The element of travel makes these gifts more complex. there is the issue of freshness, breakage and mostly the grocery budget. I have been squirelling away pantry items in anticipation of this budget shortfall. I found a source for inexpensive yet organic sweet cream butter. I found 2-for-1 sales on my favorite brand of flour and sugar. My new contacts from blogging have gifted me with a lovely stash of chocolate and a variety of kitchen swag that I will regift. I am delighted to say that I will be making shortbread this year and perhaps some truffles too. I know this will please my family, and I will feel like I have contributed to the spirit of Christmas by having a few packages to place under the Christmas tree.

It isn’t the Christmas I wanted to give them but this holiday isn’t about the gifts. It’s about that we are all together, healthy, and it’s about the love. I have plenty of that in abundance to share.

Joy of Bacon

Bacon, the Gateway Meat… The Glorious Pig… My favorite meat!!!

I confess it, it’s true. I love bacon. I love it such that I follow all kinds of bacony themed people on Twitter, including the bacon Jesus! A sample tweet, “Seven days from now it will rain bacon for forty days and forty nights, and I will feed every living creature I have made with bacon”, so hilarious.

However it happened, and I am by no means unique, I am a baconista. I truly believe that any dish can be enhanced with the addition of bacon. Some people say that this is a trend but I don’t believe it. I have always felt this way, just ask my mom! Bacon has a tendency to disappear around me, so much so that during my littlehood mom used to ration the bacon. If I was able to be served 2 pieces of bacon at a meal I counted myself lucky. Now that I am an adult I am able to serve myself as much bacon as I want. And I want! I take great pleasure in using bacon in unlikely places, like my BLT pizza. But that’s a story for another day.

Today, I was introduced to my newest favorite snack, bacon popcorn from the Chop Bar. I can’t begin to tell you how amazingly bacony it is, with a dash of Parmesan.

Bacon popcorn! i'm in heaven...(I am in love with their chef in a bad way. Bad!!)

A few years ago dear A___ read to me a passage from the Sweet Potato Queen’s book about pig candy, how a fan handed the SPQ a slightly greasy bag after a speech and whispered, “Don’t open this until you are alone in your room.” She did and found a dozen or so strips of sticky, dark, luscious porkiness enrobed in candied caramel, and crunched it down, furtively, propped up in bed.

Sitting there in A__’s car in the pool of light from a streetlamp, traffic signal forgotten, we were entranced and knew we had to try pig candy. And soon.

Later, giggling in the kitchen, we created a pound of heaven: thickly sliced bacon, heavily coated in brown sugar, baked until candied and crisp. And then the giggling stopped and so did all discernible sound other than crunching and soft moans. The pound of pig candy was consumed in short order, like ravenous hyenas over a Springbok. We were hooked. The next time we made it, we cooked up three pounds of bacon. Dare I say between us and several starving teenage girls the pig candy was all gone in minutes. And we ate it with mashed potatoes too. What is that, a triple sin?? It was at this point that we looked at each other and said, “We can never do this again”, pinky-sweared and immediately purchased massive piles of celery as our sole sustenance for the next week or two. Okay, there was a little wine in there too, shush now.

A year later, we made it again, and consumed the pig candy with such joy and abandon that we decided to lift the outright (and ineffective) ban and to instead limit ourselves to making the ritual of pig candy an annual event. We pretty well have stuck to it, until I started researching bacon recipes and discovered David Lebovitz’s maple ice cream with candied bacon, Seattle Tall Poppy’s toffee with candied bacon (one of the funniest posts ever written!) and bacon donuts at my own local Dynamo donuts. Somewhere down the line I read of bacon infused booze and, with the sage advice of Music City Missy and Seattle Tall Poppy, infused Black Forest bacon with Sky Vodka and with Maker’s Mark.

Somehow, and I really don’t know why (smirk), I developed a bacon reputation! Was it the bacon Manhattans? The Bloody Bacon Mary’s? The mounds of lacquered pig candy that I brought to parties? My constant quest for great bacon recipes?


(yes, guilty, I did knit a piece of bacon too using a piece of bacon from the meat counter at Treats as a model. Then I cooked it and ate it.)

Given all if this, I am so fortunate to have friends that recognize my bacon obsession and gift me accordingly. For a few years my dear pal S___ has gifted me with bacon for my birthday, and happyhappyjoyjoy this year was no exception. This year’s amazing batch of artisanal bacon is from Father’s in Kentucky, did I say amazing already?

She also suggested some amazing bacony ideas, one of which I just had to instantly start playing with:

Chocolate Chip Bacon Cookies.

Yes, you read that right. And they are amazing. The gooey melted chocolate chunks, the chewy sweet savory bacon pieces, the nutty whole wheat buttery dough, they are heaven on a plate. And completely dangerous. I happily corrupted quite a few of my friends with these bad boys, including one friend who made me promise to freeze some for her until we got together next.

These cookies are so good I completely forgot to photograph them when they got out of the oven. I just pried off a few from the parchment paper, and with chocolate chunks dripping down my chin and forearms, slowly and placidly I crunched them into oblivion.

Of course some people out there think the concept of bacon with desserty things or booze, is unappetizing. These cookies just might change their minds. I highly recommend you give this recipe a whirl and help enlighten the rest of the world to the joys of bacon.

REC: Chocolate Chip Candied Bacon Cookies

(This recipe also gives you my exquisite procedure for pig candy! Don’t go crazy!)

1 # thick-cut bacon, preferably black forest cured bacon
2 c dark brown sugar, divided
1 1/2 c white whole wheat flour (I use King Arthur)
1/2 c AP flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick or 1/2 c unsalted butter, softened (best to leave out overnight)
1/2 c shortening (try to use trans-fat shortening, it lessens the guilt)
1/2 c granulated sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 T vinegar (I like unfiltered organic apple cider vinegar that I get in bulk at Rainbow)
2 pkgs Scharffen Berger bittersweet chocolate chunks (2 cups total)

Pig Candy

In a large deep skillet arrange the bacon in a single layer if possible, but technically if they overlap or do not all fit don’t worry. Add 1 c dark brown sugar and turn pan to medium heat. Fry bacon until cooked and thickly coated with caramelized sugar. Using a long handled fork, frequently turn over bacon strips and move them about the pan with care. The skillet will soon be filled with a seething mass of sugar and fat, and will slowly become quite dark brown and caramelized. By the time the fat in the bacon has been rendered out adequately and nears the chewy/crisp stage, the sugar will achieve that perfect lacquered mahogany brown hue indicating caramelization. Near the end of the pig candy’s cooking time it is important to turn the strips frequently.

Remove the pig candy from skillet onto a piece of foil or parchment paper and allow to cool. It will harden and crisp as it cools. Immediately pour off the boiling bacon fat and sugar from the cooking pan into a compost friendly container (an old milk cardboard carton is perfect) then fill pan with hot water and return to the stove to melt any remaining sugar for ease of cleaning. I use a Pyrex cup and sometimes nibble on the cooled bacon candy after the fat has cooled.

Picnik collage - Pig candy (clockwise: bacon and brown sugar in the pan; after 10 minutes; the dark candied bacon is done; cooled bacon, ready to chop)

Drain off the pan
(you can put this hot sugary fatty mass into a cup like this and pour off the fat, keeping the blob of sugar in the cup with a fork or spatula. Then, spread the sugar out on a piece of parchment paper thinly, stretching with your fingers when it is cool enough, for delicious bacon sugar candy. Just saying…)

When cool, chop into pieces, and try not to eat more than a slice or two.
Temptation: Fail
(hey, paws off!)

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

For the dough, mix together the flours, baking soda and salt, mix well.

In the mixer, cream butter and shortening until light, then slowly add 1 cup of brown sugar and the white sugar and beat well. With mixer on low, add the egg, vanilla and vinegar. Add the flour mixture slowly and mix just until combined. Remove the mixing bowl and, by hand with a silicon spatula, fold in the pig candy and the chocolate chunks. It is best to chill the dough a bit at this point but generally I don’t usually bother.

Picnik collage - cookie dough
Finished dough

Drop dough using a tablespoon cookie scoop onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Place into the oven and bake until the cookies are golden, about 12 to 14 minutes. Remove and cool cookies on the pan for 2 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
Ready to bake
Behold. Chocolate chunk candied bacon cookies!

That’s it, aren’t they gorgeous?

I really need to make another batch soon. I hope you try them sometime too.

Now, a note about hot melted sugar. Melted sugar can cause severe burns,which mean common sense and basic precautions must be taken when cooking. Wear shoes that cover your entire foot, long pants and an apron. If you are concerned or a complete klutz, please fill a medium bowl with cold water and a tray of ice cubes. If you get any sugar on you, immediately dip the body part in the ice water and keep it there for at least 10 minutes. I am just careful and, knock on wood, haven’t burned myself on sugar. If you are really worried about it, you can bake the bacon slices in a tray in the oven with brown sugar mounded on top of each slice, which is how every other recipe I have ever seen for sugared bacon recommends. I really prefer my method, obviously, and think that it makes the best Pig Candy. So you have options!