Bacon Me Crazy

Recipe and Photos by Brandon Matzek 

As the weather cools, I begin to crave flavors of pumpkin, apple, pear, maple and spice. 'Tis the season when I replace my morning ritual iced coffee with a hot pumpkin spice latte, and when light weekend breakfasts turn into comforting maple-soaked pancakes stacked beside a pile of crisp, smoked bacon.

With a taste similar to pancakes and bacon, Maple Bacon Cookies also satisfy my cool-weather cravings. They start with a brown-sugar-sweetened dough spiked with pure maple syrup, vanilla extract and maple extract. Tiny bits of maple-caramelized bacon are then folded in, providing a salty counter to the sweet dough. Soft and chewy, these things are addicting.

Be sure to use good quality maple syrup here, not maple-flavored syrup. Maple extract can be found at any regular grocery store. The cookie dough requires a one- hour chill, so plan accordingly.

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Maple Bacon Cookies

Ingredients:
7 slices of bacon
2 tbsp. + 1/2 cup good quality maple syrup (divided)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. fine grain sea salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup lightly packed dark brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 tsp. maple extract 

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Process
Candy-coat it. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment and set wire rack on the lined baking sheet. Lightly spray the wire rack with non-stick cooking spray. Arrange bacon in a single layer on the wire rack. Brush 1 tablespoon of maple syrup evenly over the slices. Cook the bacon for 10 minutes in the oven, then flip the slices and brush the other side evenly with 1 tablespoon maple syrup. Continue to cook the bacon until crisp and dark in spots (about 10 - 15 minutes more). Let the bacon cool completely, then chop into small bits.

Batter Up. Combine flour, baking soda and sea salt in a medium bowl, whisking to combine. Set aside. Add butter and sugar to a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cream sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy (2 - 3 minutes). You can also use a hand mixer here. Add the egg, vanilla extract and maple extract, mixing until incorporated. Add the dry ingredients (flour mixture) to the wet ingredients (butter-egg mixture) in 3 additions, beating at a lower speed until each addition is just incorporated. Fold in the reserved, chopped, candied bacon. Cover the cookie dough with plastic wrap and let chill in the refrigerators for 1 hour.

Scoop and Bake. Preheat an oven to 350°F and place a rack in the center of the oven. Scoop 1 tablespoon of cookie dough and, using your hands, roll into a ball. Place balls on a parchment-lined baking sheet 2 inches apart. bake for 10 - 12 minutes, until the cookies turn lightly golden around the edges. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

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