8 strips applewood-smoked bacon
1/4 cup raw sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup melted unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup raw sugar, pulverized
2 egg yolks
1 to 2 teaspoons maple extract
1 cup dark chocolate, chopped
For the candied bacon: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, and set it aside. Lay the bacon strips in a single layer on a wire rack, and coat the tops completely and evenly with the raw sugar. Lightly press the sugar into the bacon strips, sprinkle them with the cayenne, and transfer the rack to the lined cookie sheet. Bake for about 12 minutes, or until the bacon is deep red and very caramelized. Check on the bacon frequently; the cooking time may vary depending on the thickness of the bacon. Use tongs to remove the candied bacon from the baking sheet, and transfer the slices to a wire rack to cool completely. Once cooled, roughly chop.
For the cookies: With the oven rack in the middle position, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In another bowl, combine the melted butter, brown sugar, egg yolks and maple extract with a wooden spoon, until the mixture is well blended. Stir in the dry ingredients and the dark chocolate chunks.
With a spoon, drop 2 tablespoons of dough per cookie onto the baking sheets, leaving 2 inches between each cookie. Flatten lightly with your fingers, and then press your thumb down the center of each cookie to make a slight indent. Add a tablespoon of chopped candied bacon to the center of each cookie. Bake for 11 to 12 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes then transfer to a cooling rack. The cookies will be a bit soft but will firm up when cooled and become chewy. For crunchier cookies bake for 15 minutes, taking care not to burn the bacon by covering the cookies loosely with aluminum foil.