Friday, December 16, 2011

Twelve Days of Christmas, #12: Bacon Jam Shortbread

Bacon makes everything better. Or that's how the saying goes, right? Whether you agree with that statement or not, these shortbread definitely get a boost with a little bit of bacon jam. Much like the Black Sesame Shortbread, they are the perfect combination of sweet and savoury in a single bite.

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The Final Day of my Twelve Days of Christmas series: Bacon Jam Shortbread.

I have Darryl at Buster Rhino's Southern BBQ partly to thank for this shortbread. If I hadn't tried his bacon jam earlier this year and gifted a jar of it, I probably wouldn't have come up with the idea for such a cookie (or at least not this soon). Yes, I spread some on toast and made some amazing bacon jam grilled cheese, but what was I going to do the rest? The thought of incorporating the jam into shortbread started to take shape in my head.

These cookies are inspired by these Bacon Jam Shortbread. Except those ones are a savoury shortbread, with cheese and herbs. And I wanted to do a sweet version. I know, sounds wild, but why not give it a try?

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There's been a lot of talk about the Skillet Bacon Jam out in the market now. However, I much prefer using Darryl's jam, as it's much leaner, smokier, and has a sweeter note to it, which would work better in the shortbread. You can make your own bacon jam using Darryl's recipe.

In the shortbread, I wanted to bring out the chocolate undertones in the bacon jam, but I thought adding chocolate itself would mess with the flavours that's already going on in the cookie. That's where the cacao nibs comes in, with its chocolate profile. I was also hoping the cacao nibs would bring out some of the coffee flavour in the bacon jam through its slight bitterness, as well as add some textural crunch to the cookie. A sprinkle of Darryl's smoked habanero salt adds a slight salty finish; salish salt or maldon sea salt can also work, or you can forgo the salt entirely.

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Bacon Jam Shortbread
Makes about 3 dozen

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
2 tablespoons bacon jam
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
Habanero, smoked or maldon sea salt, for garnish (optional)

Working with a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter at medium speed until smooth and very creamy. Add the sugars and salt and beat until well blended, about 1 minute. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in the egg yolks, again beating until the mixture is combine. Beat in the bacon jam and vanilla extract and mix until well combined, about 1 minute.

Turn off the mixer. Sift in the flour, and on the slowest speed, mix until just combined and the dough starts forming a ball. Continuing at low speed and mix for about 30 seconds more, just until all the flour disappears into the dough and the dough looks uniformly moist.

Scrape the dough out onto a smooth work surface, gather it into a ball and divide it in half. Shape each piece into a smooth log about 9 inches long on a piece of plastic wrap, using the plastic wrap to help form the log. Wrap the logs well and refrigerate them for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight. The dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.

Centre a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove a log of dough from the refrigerator and let sit for about 10 minutes before cutting.

Trim the ends of the roll if they're ragged, and slice the log into 1/3-inch-thick cookies. Place the rounds on the baking sheets, leaving an inch of space between them. Sprinkle over top each cookie with a little salt, if using.

Bake one sheet at a time for 12 to 15 minutes or until the edges are golden, rotating the baking sheet at the midway point. Remove from the oven and let the cookies rest for 2 to 3 minutes before carefully lifting them onto a rack with a wide metal spatula to cool to room temperature. Will keep for up to 5 days in an airtight container.

If you've missed them, be sure to check out the past 11 "Twelve Days of Christmas" for more sweet treats! Wishing each and every one of you a very Happy and Delicious Holiday!

Day 1: Chewy Triple Ginger Cookies
Day 2: Raspberry Cream Thumbprints
Day 3: Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti
Day 4: Spiced Soft Caramels
Day 5: Almond-Orange Biscotti
Day 6: Black Sesame Shortbread
Day 7: Vanilla Bean Marshmallows
Day 8: Spiced Graham Crackers
Day 9: Ambrosia Macaroons
Day 10: White Chocolate and Peppermint Cookie Brittle
Day 11: Gooey Turtle Bars


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