Shortbread Cookies That Taste Like Bacon
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon salt
burgundy gel food color
brown gel food color
liquid red food color
applewood smoked sea salt, in fine grain
ground black pepper
Yield: 2 1/2 dozen cookies
1: In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add the sugar, and mix again until well incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and mix again.
2: Add 2 cups of flour and salt, and mix on low speed until a dough forms. Add the remaining 2 cups of flour, and mix again on low speed until a very stiff dough forms.
3: Divide the dough into 4 even portions. Place one portion back in the mixing bowl, and add some of the burgundy and brown gel food color. Mix well. Add food color as needed to create a dark brownish-red color, and add flour 1 tablespoon at a time if the dough gets too sticky to handle. Set aside.
4: Tint a second portion of dough in the same way, but use less of each food color so that it is slightly lighter than the previous batch.
5: Tint a third portion of dough with a small amount of brown food color and a few drops of liquid red food color to create a light pinkish-brown color. Leave the fourth portion of dough untinted.
6: Flatten 3/4 of the untinted dough into a rough rectangular shape, about 1/2" thick. Flatten and stack the two lighter colors of dough alternately on top. Add the remaining untinted portion in random pieces on top (this creates another fat streak in the dough). Finally, add the darkest portion of dough.
7: Flip the dough over so the untinted portion is on top. Sprinkle with applewood Smoked Salt and black pepper. Chill the dough in the refrigerator until firm, about 2 hours.
8: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Slice the shortbread dough into long even rashers, about 1/4" thick. Carefully transfer them to the cookie sheets. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the edges of the cookies turn golden brown. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets until they are firm enough to move to a wire cooling rack. When the cookies are completely cooled, transfer them to an airtight container.