Maple Pecan Cookies (or Whoopie Pies) with Bacon Cream Cheese Frosting
(Source: Adapted from Poet in the Pantry)
6 strips thick-cut bacon
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) butter, softened
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 cups confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons bacon fat, reserved from frying bacon for the filling
3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/3 cup dark maple syrup
2 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
Fry bacon until crisp and reserve and cool the fat.
Crumble (or cut with kitchen shears) bacon and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat together the butter, cream cheese, and confectioners' sugar for three minutes. Add the vanilla, syrup, and salt. Remove bowl from mixer and stir in the crumbled bacon. Transfer to an air-tight container and store in the refrigerator.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Get out two rimmed nonstick cookie sheets and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Beat together the butter, bacon fat, and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, mixing until fully incorporated. Add the buttermilk, mixing until smooth.
In a liquid measuring cup, add the cream, baking soda, and white vinegar, stirring to combine. Turn the stand mixer on low and mix in half of the dry ingredients. Add the cream/baking soda vinegar mix, mixing until combined. Mix in the last of the dry ingredients. Add the vanilla, and beat until well incorporated. Stir in the toasted nuts.
Portion out the batter with a small cookie scoop and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly browned on the edges and the tops are springy. Transfer to wire cooling racks immediately. Cool completely.
Remove filling from the fridge at least 20 minutes before starting assembly. Stir before starting assembly. Using a pastry bag fitted with a decorating tip, or simply a butter knife, apply filling on the flat side of one cookie/cake. Press the flat side of another cookie/cake and press gently together.
Wrap each whoopie pie in a small piece of plastic wrap store and in an air-tight container. Best eaten the same day. For longer storage, keep in the refrigerator.
*You can also just frost the top of each individual cookie (as I did here) instead of making whoopie pies.
The second cookie I made was a sour cream cookie infused with Earl Grey tea and frosted with a honeyed lemony icing. YUM!
Earl Grey Tea Cakes with Honey-Lemon Frosting
1 cup sour cream
2 bags Earl Grey tea
2 sticks butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups flour
Mix the sour cream and the tea from the two bags and set aside.
Cream butter and eggs together. Add sugar and mix in. Add baking soda, baking powder and flour. Add vanilla and sour cream and tea mixture. Bake at 350° until lightly browned (10-12 minutes). Cool completely before frosting.
Honeyed Lemon Frosting:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1/2 pound (about 2 cups) confectioners’ sugar
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/8 to 1/4 cup heavy cream
zest of one lemon, finely grated
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
Beat the butter on high speed until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Beat in half of the sugar until combined. Stir in the vanilla and honey. Beat in the remaining sugar. Add the heavy cream, lemon juice, and lemon zest, whisk on high for 6 minutes.
Rosemary-Walnut Browned Butter Shortbread
Makes about 3 dozen cookies
1 cup butter
1 cup walnut halves, toasted and chopped small (none larger than pea-sized)--or combine walnuts and almonds
1 tablespoon rosemary, minced
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup confectioner sugar (or another 1/4 cup granulated, if you don't have confectioner's)
Melt the butter in a medium sauce-pan or skillet over medium heat. Swirl occasionally and cook until all foaming has subsided, the butter is dark tan colored with little black specks, and smells fantastically nutty. Transfer to a heat-proof bowl and let it cool to room temperature. (The butter should be solid but still smooshy.)
Mix the walnuts, rosemary, and all the dry ingredients together in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or medium-sized bowl with a hand mixer). While beating on medium-speed, add the cooled brown butter in several additions until it's completely incorporated and the dough looks grainy. The dough should hold together when you press some in your fist - if not, add a few teaspoons of cold water until it does.
Turn the dough out onto your work surface and shape it into two thick logs about 1 1/2 - 2 inches in diameter (or smaller if you want smaller cookies). The dough will be pretty crumbly, but that's ok. Wrap the logs tightly in plastic wrap and freeze until hard (30 minutes, or up to three days).
When ready to bake, heat the oven to 350°F. Prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Take out and unwrap one of the logs. Slice it into 1/4 inch round cookies using a sharp knife and transfer to the cookie sheet. Place cookies about a half inch apart - they won't spread much during baking. If any of the cookies crumble, just press the dough back together with your fingers and a bit of water.
Bake for 10-13 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges and very fragrant. Allow to cool five minutes on the baking sheet before transferring them to a cooling rack.
Prepare and bake the other half of the cookie dough as above. Cookies keep in a sealed container for about two weeks.