December 31st, 2012

safety mustache

Happy New Year! Have a cookie.

End of the year! I feel like I ought to be recapping 2012 -- or at least happenings since I got back from San Francisco -- but I've been tired and achy all day long, we're having a quiet evening in, and it's only 9:30 and I've already retired to bed. So I'm just going to recap the bits with cookies.

Our departmental holiday potluck happened the week after I got back, and I decided I would be fancy and bring bacon-chocolate-chip cookies. Buuuuuuut then I burned the bacon. Which left me with plain vanilla chocolate-chip cookies. So that was annoying.

I've been working on perfecting this recipe for a while, and it's not a particularly complicated modification -- it's just a chocolate-chip cookie, plus bacon -- but one thing I have figured out is that the bacon needs to go on the outside of the cookie, or the flavor is way too subtle. And that means that the bacon needs to be entirely crispy, without any floppy bits, or the texture is gross.

In theory, cooking the bacon in the oven is a low-effort and reliable technique. In practice, I have a hard time getting it completely crispy without burning it. So I've given up on that. But! I now have a new technique! One of the problems with frying bacon evenly in a pan is that if you put much of it in there, there's always some of it sticking up and not cooking at the same rate. And I'm not gonna cook a whole package four strips at a time. But I had the clever idea to capitalize on the fact that it's all turning into little crumbles anyway, so take a pair of scissors and cut it all up into little bits, throw it in your dutch oven, and just stir it frequently. And don't turn up the heat too far. It works like a charm! It takes some time, and it makes a lot of foam, but the end result is perfectly and evenly crispy with no burning anywhere.

So on Saturday, Bob & Pyro had an Ugly Sweater Party out at their place, and I decided to try again using New Improved Baconization Methodology. I was also unsatisfied with the previous batch of cookies (I've been using the Cook's Illustrated recipe, which tastes good but is fussy and designed for large cookies and burns easily and turns out too crunchy after they cool off) so I switched to a straight-up classic Tollhouse recipe with high-altitude adjustments.

The results were cakier than I wanted, but still a big hit at the party. Because really, bacon chocolate-chip cookies at a bear party. Fish in a barrel. The party was awesome, by the way. Jerry went to ARC and got us some truly hideous sweaters. Along with the hosts we got to see Channyn and Adam again, and Chris & Todd, and David and Bob and Jeff and Douglas and Ben and a number of others whose names I haven't gotten down yet. The barn was cold but it was still a delightful time.

And then yesterday we were gonna have Star Wars, but scheduling and work intervened, so instead I just went over to Neal's for some Rock Band in the evening. And before going I thought, aha, there will be people to eat the results, so I whipped up another batch of cookies (just cookies, no bacon) trying out some adjustments to the recipe. Online suggestions said brown sugar gives better chew than white. Well, my brown sugar always dries out and is missing the extra water anyway. I started substituting white plus molasses when I switched recipes, so I just doubled the molasses. I also halved the baking powder. And the results were EXACTLY what I wanted. Yay! So next time I just have to see how it plays with the bacon added.

Plus everyone ate the extra cookies and I played drums on a bunch of songs and didn't fail out. So it was good.