Yes, my obsession continues to find the right Bacon Grease Cookies recipe for my love. Not having any luck so far, so I suggested that Randy send out an email message to his cousins. He sent an email asking them if they remembered their moms making icebox cookies and would they have a recipe to forward.
The very next day we heard back from Aunt Betty’s two boys, Tim and Rick. Tim’s response included a Refrigerator Cookies recipe that was very similar to the one I had already tried.
Randy’s cousin Rick sent along some recipes that he had found noting that, “Mom, Aunt Betty, couldn’t remember too much…” The recipes included in the email were various Icebox Cookie recipes. They were very similar in ingredients and preparation to ones I had already baked.
A few days later we heard from cousin Dan, Aunt Lee’s son, explaining that he had spoken to his mom and she said that she remembers the ice box cookies, packing dough into the edges of a pan to let it harden over night then cutting it in this slices and baking them, resulting in very crisp cookies. Unfortunately no particulars on the recipe.
Okay, so back to the Internet. I went to Google search and typed in ‘Bacon Great Cookies’ and was surprised when several sites popped up. I read several of them and decided to concentrate my time on Uncle Phaedrus Consulting Detective and Finder of Lost Recipes at www.hungrybrowser.com.
There were actually two Bacon Grease cookie recipes listed. Both were similar the only difference was the ingredient amounts and unlike Grandma Kaap’s recipe to roll and wrap in wax paper these cookies were to be rolled into balls and then placed on a cookie sheet.
Remember that the last three recipes fell short of Randy’s approval and I kept asking him if he could remember if his mom used molasses, chocolate or spices? Well, both of these recipes called for molasses, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. Since one of his strongest memories is that the cookies were ‘darker’ than the ones I had already baked I knew that the addition of the molasses and spices would make the cookies ‘darker’. Therefore, I decided to push ahead and make the second of the recipes on this site.
I had already used all the bacon grease that I procured from Mary’s Place and did not feel comfortable going back a second time. So what to do??? I pondered just how many pounds of bacon I would need to render enough grease for the cookie recipe. Off I went to the grocery store and bought three pounds. I could just hear my arteries crying out, “No, no don’t do it!!” But I was on a mission.
Now armed with the most important ingredient and having all the other ingredients in my cupboards I pressed ahead. I had to add a little extra flour into the mix to make the batter dry enough to roll. The one thing I noticed missing in these recipes were nuts. I went back to Randy and asked, “Are you sure there were nuts in your mom’s cookies?” He said, “Absolutely”. Okay, so I added chopped nuts to the dry ingredient mixture of flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and cloves before adding it to the bacon grease, sugar, egg and molasses mixture.
Randy walked into the kitchen as I was rolling the dough in the wax paper and said, “That’s it, that’s the color I remember.” I felt a small sense of success as I finished rolling the two logs of dough and placing them into the refrigerator.
It seemed like an eternity before I felt that the cookie dough was solid enough for me to slice and bake. I cut the slices approximately 1/8″ thick. They baked up very crisp. As soon as the first batch was cooled I put them on a plate and went looking for Randy. He just started laughing at my tracking him down while he was weeding the front lawn. His hands were covered with dirt but I said, “I don’t care you need to taste them now.” “Okay”, he said, “then put one in my mouth.
I stood there waiting with growing anticipation to hear his reaction once he tasted the cookie. I kept thinking, “Were these the ones?” I waited and waited and finally Randy spoke, “they taste very similar”. “Very similar, very similar!! What is that.” “I don’t want similar, I want Wow these are great they are just like my mom’s.” But it was not to be.
We talked for a while about how he just could not clearly remember the taste of his mom’s cookies but said that they were the closest of the one’s I had baked so far.
Now, I know you are wondering if the cookies tasted or smelled like bacon grease. Yes, a little. However the molasses and other spices moderated the flavor of the bacon grease enough that they were actually very tasty. We both enjoyed several cookies each with glasses of milk.
What I came to understand from our conversations is that for Randy it really was never about the cookies per se but rather the relationship he had developed with his mother during hard and stressful times that was so important. His mom was a young mother during WWII, her husband was away at war, they were very poor and that she made do with whatever she had available sharing good times like baking cookies with her little boy. The making of the cookies was a bonding time between mother and child. Times that Randy remembered with much fondness. You only had to watch his face as he recounted helping to roll the cookies in the wax paper and anxiously opening the refrigerator from time to time to see if they were ready to bake to see the impact this baking experience had on his childhood memories of his mom.
So as far as I am concerned this project was indeed a tasty success.