Chicharrónes, they make me purr….Whenever I see the crispy fried pork skin nibbles at Mexican markets I quiver in delight. What’s not to love about crunchy, salty, fatty goodness? One bite is enough to tickle your brain stem, a handful makes the hedonist in us scream yes! more!
Chef and cookbook author Heather Earnhardt certainly gilded the lily when she paired chicharrónes with toffee in her cookie recipe. These cookies are so darn good I just had to feature them. They’re from her new cookbook Big Food Big Love: Down-Home Southern Cooking Full of Heart from Seattle's Wandering Goose. Her cookbook is filled with scrumptious down-home comforts like Big Love Buttermilk Fried Chicken and B.O.L.Ts (Bacon, Fried Oysters, Lettuce and Tomato with Pepper Jelly and French Remoulade), Smoky Meat Collards, and so much more. Many recipes have a Pacific Northwestern twist, such as Smoked Salmon Pie with Peas and a Liquored Crust and Walla Walla Sweet Onion Dip. The droolworthy chapters include:
Grazing (snacks & starters)
Gravy (where it all begins)
Big Love Big Biscuits (savory and sweet biscuits)
Supper (the midday meal & more)
“And all on it” Supper Sides
For the Big Pot (big love for all!)
All About the Pickles (jar it up)
Sauces & Dressing (dress it up)
Big Breakfast (no seriously, eat breakfast)
Jellies, Jams & Butters (butter it up)
Big Cakes & Bundts (bigger is better)
Pies & Tarts (it’s jus’ pie)
Cookies, Bars & Bread Pudding (big treats)
For Sipping’ (you could use a drink)
Heather’s cookies will make your sensory pleasure hit maximum, so beware, you may not be able to stop at one.
Cracklin’ Cookies: Chicken Skin & Toffee bits
"One morning at The Goose, I’d made a batch of cookie dough and was scooping it into rounds to bake while I watched my prep cook trim the fat and skin from the chicken thighs he was deboning, then throw them in the compost. It was so much waste, I couldn’t bear it, so I saved the scraps of skin, rendered them in the oven, and added them to the cookie dough. Delicious! You can render your own skins or make it easier and buy a bag of pork rinds—a.k.a. chicharrónes—to add the savory crunch. Either way, they provide unexpected salty-but-sweet crunchy goodness." ~Heather Earnhardt
MAKES 2 Dozen 4-Inch Cookies
4 1⁄2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1⁄2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups packed dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 large egg white, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 (20-ounce) bag bitter- sweet chocolate chips
1 (10-ounce) bag Skor toffee bits, or 1 (8-ounce) bag Heath Bits
1 (7-ounce) bag pork rinds, such as Guerrero Chicharrón de Cerdo
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, sift the flour, salt, and baking soda together and set it aside.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and egg white one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture. Do not overmix. Fold in the chocolate chips, toffee bits, and cracklin’s.
4. Working in batches (you’ll have to complete this process twice), use a 3-ounce scoop to scoop the dough and drop them on the lined baking sheets, gently pressing down the cookies to flatten them a bit. The cookies will spread when baking, so evenly space six cookies per baking sheet. Bake until the cookies are golden brown around the edges, 14 to 16 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through baking. Using a spatula, transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool.
*(c)2016 By Heather L. Earnhardt. All rights reserved. Excerpted from Big Food Big Love: Down-Home Southern Cooking Full of Heart of Seattle’s Wandering Goose by permission of Sasquatch Books.
IMAGE COURTESY JIM HENKENS