This recipe took a lot of painful brainstorming. I just didn’t know how to approach it…
Should I re-create these easy-but-kinda-boring Coconut, Cashew, Apple Thins by blitzing all the ingredients in a food processor?
Or should I go outside of the box? Maybe make trail-mix clusters, or better yet, an actual Apple Cookie!
I asked friends and family what they thought, and the preference was unanimous. My friend and baking enthusiast, Corey, helped me test the first round of cookies:
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Pros: soft and yummy, just how I like my oatmeal cookies.
Cons: The apple and cinnamon came through but not enough bacon or walnut flavor. The appearance isn’t very interesting, you can barely see the bacon and walnuts.
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Now this was the winning batch! First bite made me die and go to oatmeal cookie heaven.
Fix #1: I cut the apple and bacon into larger chunks, and left the walnuts whole. This made a chunkier cookie with more distinct textures and flavors. But I cut the apple a little too big, which made the cookies fragile and fall apart. Smaller next time ; )
Fix #2: I wanted more color so I thought blueberries would be a fresh, subtly sweet addition. PLUS it makes the perfect summer (blueberry) into autumn (apple) cookie.
Fix #3: I ditched the white sugar and used REAL local maple syrup. When I tasted the raw cookie dough I was a bit concerned because the maple was overpowering. But once baked and out of the oven, it brought out the flavor in everything! Especially the bacon.
Fix #4: To make the bacon flavor stand out more, I added a 1/4 cup of bacon fat to the dough. I’m no professional baker, but I think all that added fat made the dough softer. So I put half the raw cookies in the fridge before baking, and the other half straight into the oven. As predicted, the non-chilled cookies melted and flattened, while the others held their shape.
Fix #5: These are VERY decadent cookies. I made them fairly large, so next time I’d measure with 2 TBS – 3 TBS scoops instead of a 1/3 cup.
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~*~ BACON BLUEBERRY APPLE COOKIES ~*~
Chunky, decadent, and filled with bacon…these bad boys are the Ben & Jerry’s of oatmeal cookies. You can replace one of the two surgars with (REAL) maple syrup for more flavor. And if you don’t have blueberries, you can sub with raisins or dried cranberries. This recipe doesn’t use a standard mixer, but works just as well. If you do have one, totally use it!
1/2 pound bacon, plus 1/4 cup reserved fat
1/2 cup walnuts, whole or halved
1 small (or half a large) Granny Smith Apple
1/2 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar (or 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons maple syrup)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1.5 cups quick oats
1/3 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
Albums: SB1, SB2, or SB3
1. Soften the butter. Remove butter from the fridge. Set out the night before, or under direct (ideally hot summer) sunlight until butter softens. For quicker, last-minute options, click here.
2. Cook the bacon. Set aside a paper towel-lined plate. Place bacon strips in a large skillet and bring to medium heat. Cook, flipping occasionally, to desired doneness. As the bacon fat renders, use a spoon to scoop the fat into a glass jar or mug, reserve until later instruction. Drain cooked bacon on the plate. Once cool, chop or crumble into pieces, then set aside.
*Pro Tip*: Try this easy technique for more plump bacon.
3. Roast the walnuts (optional flavor booster). Arrange the walnuts on a baking pan. Place in the oven and set to 350℉. Every 5 minutes shake the pan until walnuts darken and grow fragrant. Taste to check they are soft and roasted through. Set aside.
4. Cut the apple. Peel, core, and chop the apple into 1/2-inch pieces or smaller. Set aside.
5. Garnish (optional Instragram shot). Reserve a few pieces of bacon, apple, blueberries, and walnuts for garnishing the cookies.
MAKE THE DOUGH
1. Mix wet ingredients. With a wooden spoon, vigorously beat 1/4 cup reserved bacon fat, butter, white sugar and brown sugar (or maple syrup, if using) until fully combined and smooth. Mix in the egg and vanilla extract until combined.
*For the Pros*: You can use a standard mixer.
2. Mix dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Fold the flour mixture into butter mixture.
3. Mix ingredients. Add the oats and mix until fully incorporated. Then gently fold in the bacon, apple, blueberries, and walnuts.
4. Chill. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 1 hour. This will allow the oats to absorb all those wonderful flavors in the dough.
1. Tidy up. Do the dishes. Put ingredients away. Wipe the counters.
2. Waste time. Watch Netflix, read a book, go for a walk, do yoga, or take a nap (but set a timer so you don’t over sleep!)
3. Prep for baking. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment. Grease or spray with a neutral oil. Preheat the oven to 375F.
BAKE THE COOKIES
1. Snack. Take nibbles of the dough to make sure it’s tasty.
2. Form the cookies. Scoop out 1 tablespoon – 1/4 cup of dough, depending on how big or small you want them. Arrange them 1-3 inches apart on the baking sheet. Use a fork or your fingers to slightly flatten the dough balls. Push the reserved apples, bacon, blueberries, and walnuts on the top of each cookie.
3. Chill. Transfer the baking sheet to the freezer and chill for 5 – 10 minutes.
4. Bake. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes until cookies are browned around the edges. Cool for 5 minutes, then dig in!
5. Store. Store cookies in an air-tight container or Ziplock bag in the fridge or freezer.
*~* THE BEGINNINGS VARIATION ~*~
Keep the apple but replace the bacon with 1/3 cup coconut chips, blueberries with 1 chopped quince (pears if not available), and walnuts with 1/4 cup cashews. Add 2 tablespoons each raisins and dried cranberries for a tangy pop!
*~* BANANA VARIATION ~*~
Replace the apple with 1 mashed banana for Blueberry, Bacon, Banana Oatmeal Cookies. Add the mashed banana in with the egg and vanilla extract. You can even take it a step further and swap out the walnuts for peanuts.
*~* HEALTHY TWIST ~*~
Instead of quick oats, use 1.5 cups cooked quinoa for a “lighter” cookie. You could even replace the white and brown sugar with 1/4 cup honey or 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons agave nectar.