Serious Eats: Recipes
Bacon-Oatmeal Cookie Sandwiches: A Lunchbox Favorite with a Twist
A while back, I got it in my head to run a dessert special featuring a chewy, cream-filled oatmeal cookie sandwich, the likes of which you might remember, individually wrapped in cellophane, nestled in your elementary school lunchbox.
Considering the possibilities thereof, I decided, for reasons now obscure, to tinker around with bacon.
I began by incorporating crunchy, cooked chunks of bacon into the classic Quaker oatmeal cookie dough recipe before baking, as one would with nuts, raisins or chocolate chips. In the finished cookies, the bacon flavor all but completely disappeared.
I tried adding more of the bacon bits. The flavor remained far too subtle.
With a good bit of bacon fat leftover from cooking all those chunks, I decided to substitute some of that fragrant, flavorful lipid for a portion of the butter in the cookie recipe. The flavor of the bacon was certainly stronger in the finished product, but the texture and appearance had changed. The cookies that had been soft and chewy and relatively flat made with butter, had become harder and crunchier and had spread less during baking when made in part with bacon fat.
Looking for just a little more bacon flavor, I decided to omit butter from the recipe completely and use bacon fat alone. But that, I assumed, would leave me with an even harder, crunchier, more mounded product—not at all the proper beast for an oatmeal cookie sandwich.
Since molasses imparts moisture to baked goods, and I was already using a bit in the recipe, I decided to add a touch more. (At the restaurant, because our storage space is so limited, instead of using brown sugar, which we would have to order and store by the case, I substitute white sugar with a little molasses.) That helped the texture a bit, but not quite enough.
Because molasses is so strongly flavored, I couldn’t add more without obscuring some of that hard-won bacon flavor. Instead, I turned to honey. Another natural baked-good moisturizer, I could add a healthy dose of a neutral honey to the dough without obscuring any bacony goodness. That did the trick.
For the filling, I didn’t want to overpower the bacon flavor, but I didn’t want to just add something creamy and sweet for the sake of itself either. To draw out the nutty, richness of the bacon, I made a buttercream, substituting brown butter for more traditional unsalted butter.
I served the finished sandwiches in pairs, beside a maple cow (think milkshake, made with maple custard and ice instead of ice cream—we still have no ice cream machine or freezer), and they were a hit.
Since then, I’ve played with the cookies some more, alternately adding raisins, chunks of chocolate or walnuts; filling them with peanut-butter buttercream; serving them with vanilla-bourbon cows. Regardless of the accent flavors, the bacon remains the focal flavor, an update for a lunchbox classic.
About the author: Amanda Clarke is pastry chef at No.7 in Ft. Greene, Brooklyn. During her time away from the restaurant, she writes, tests, and develops recipes between walkings and feedings of her two dogs and husband.