It's a well-established fact that bacon makes everything better.
This is true of pancake breakfasts, tomato sandwiches, hamburgers, baked potatoes, and yes, even cookies too.
So for Day 6 of my 12 Days of Christmas Cookies, I've got an indulgent sweet-and-salty treat - buttery icebox shortbread dotted all over with loads of crispy bacon and sweet toffee bits. It's a positively brilliant combination, if I do say so myself.
This year, I want to help you get into the holiday spirit with a little something I'm calling the 12 Days of Christmas Cookies.
From December 14 to 25, I'm posting a new holiday cookie recipe each day. Did you miss one? You can catch up on my Christmas Cookies page.
Toffee + Bacon + Shortbread = Best Cookies Ever
I've been making toffee shortbread for several years now. It's ridiculously easy to make - literally just my favourite icebox shortbread dough with toffee bits folded in. (The base recipe is the same one I used for the orange spice shortbread I shared earlier this week.)
But it goes from good to downright sublime once you add in finely chopped bacon bits to the mix.
The salty, smoky bacon acts as a counterpoint for the sweetness of the toffee, creating the perfect blend of sweet and salty and crumbly and sticky all in one perfect bite.
The only complaint I have about this recipe is that it's awfully tempting to eat the entire batch in one sitting, which would be a very bad idea.
Tips for Making the Best Shortbread Cookies
There's really not much to as shortbread cookie, which is why it's so important to use the best possible ingredients. In particular, good butter is absolutely essential, because it's the main source of flavour.
The temperature of your butter is also important, in that you want the butter to be soft enough to easily cream with the sugar. I find this works best with a mixer, but a sturdy spoon and some elbow grease work just as well.
Once that's done, you simply stir in the rest of the ingredients until you have a dry but cohesive dough. In most cases, the dough will start off looking very crumbly, but will magically come together after a minute or two of mixing. If it doesn't, try kneading with your hands instead. As a last resort, you can also add a little water, a teaspoonful at a time, until it finally holds together.
There are many kinds of shortbread cookies, but my favourite method is to treat them like an icebox cookie. Roll into a log, then wrap tightly in parchment and chill until firm. At that point, you can slice and bake, or keep the dough in the fridge for a few days until you're ready to bake.
More Bacony Sweet-and-Salty Treats
Can't get enough of this delicious pairing? Me neither. Here are a few other recipes you might enjoy.
- Bourbon-Maple Bacon Sticky Buns from Crumb
- Brown Sugar Maple Glazed Bacon from The Merchant Baker
- Chocolate Bacon Saltine Toffee from Savory Experiments
- Maple Bacon Long Johns from Serious Eats
- Bourbon Bacon Jam from Cravings of a Lunatic
- Spicy Caramel Bourbon Popcorn from A Cozy Kitchen
These buttery shortbread cookies are packed full of bacon and toffee bits for an irresistible sweet-and-salty flavour combination. They're proof positive that everything's better with a little bacon!
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup icing sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 cups flour
- 4 strips bacon, cooked until crisp and crumbled into small bits
- ½ cup toffee bits (e.g. Skor bits or Heath bits)
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt at medium speed until combined. Turn the mixer to low and beat in the flour, mixing just until the dough comes together. (If the dough is too crumbly and does not want to come together, you may need to knead it a little with your hands.)
- Stir in the bacon and toffee bits, mixing until the add-ins are evenly incorporated.
- Divide dough in half. Place each half on a piece of parchment paper and roll into a 1 ½” log. Wrap up tightly and refrigerate until the dough is firm enough to slice cleanly, about one hour.
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350F and line two baking sheets with parchment.
- Unwrap logs and slice ⅜" thick using a serrated knife. (If bits of the cookies break off as you're slicing, just push them back into shape - no one will be any wiser once they're baked!) Arrange on the prepared baking sheets, spacing about 1” apart.
- Bake in preheated oven until the edges are dry and lightly golden, 15-20 minutes. Let cool on baking sheets for 2-3 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Making in Advance: Wrap the unbaked dough tightly with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. For longer storage, transfer to a zip-top plastic bag and freeze for up to 3 months, then thaw overnight in the fridge before baking.