So, I said I would NEVER do this... bacon did NOT belong in desserts! But sadly, I cannot resist trying new things when it comes to cupcakes, and after the bacon ice cream at the Stampede last year, I figured I could give it a shot. Matt seemed enthusiastic about the bacon anyway.
Now, I've modified my own batter recipes before and that turns out... about 50% of the time. I knew I wanted maple bacon flavour, and sweetening with maple syrup was beyond my realm of experience, so off to the internet I went, and found this recipe. I had to make a few changes - I don't have self-rising flour, and I wanted to do my own frosting. Also, the recipe said it would make 6 cupcakes, so I doubled it. Here is the recipe I followed:
Maple Bacon Cupcakes
1/2 c. + 1 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. bacon drippings (refrigerated to solidify)
1/2 c. + 2 tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 c. maple syrup
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. well-cooked bacon, minced, plus extra for garnish (I needed about 9 slices)
Cook the bacon. I did it in the oven (best method ever!). Reserve some of the drippings and put in the fridge to cool. Once solidified, beat with the butter until nice and fluffy. Add the maple syrup and brown sugar and beat until well combined. Add the eggs and beat some more.
In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together. Add the the batter in three parts, alternating with the milk in two parts. Fold in the bacon.
Divide in paper-lined cupcake tins and bake for 18 - 22 minutes at 350oF. Cupcakes are done with an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
Now, this did not make 12 cupcakes. I probably should have made about 18 cupcakes from this batter, but I filled the tins too full, trying to jam in all the batter, and the cupcakes were huge. Normally that's fine, but I did almost run out of frosting, which is not good. NOT GOOD.
Speaking of which:
Maple swiss meringue buttercream
3 egg whites
3/4 c. sugar
1 c. + 2 tbsp. butter, room temperature
2 tbsp. maple syrup
1/2 tsp. maple extract
Whisk the egg whites and sugar together in a metal bowl or double boiler, then place over a pot of simmering water and whisk, whisk, whisk until the sugar dissolves (about 2 minutes, but remove from heat and check the mixture - you'll be able to feel the grittiness of the sugar until it dissolves). Once heated sufficiently, mix on high speed, using a whisk attachment if you have one, until stiff peaks form. I almost never get stiff peaks (overheating? altitude? impatience?) but have found that soft peaks works too. At this point I will switch to my normal beater blade. Add the butter a tablespoon at a time and beat the heck out of it. Right before it's done, it will look kind of curdled and horrific, but just keep beating and it will come together again. (If you want a fantastic tutorial on swiss meringue buttercream, I cannot recommend this one enough!) Once the buttercream is done, add the maple syrup and extract and beat thoroughly. Pipe onto your cupcakes and top with a little bacon!
The icing was fantastic. Seriously. I don't even like maple and it was just insanely good.
The cupcakes... hmm. Not as great. I found the amount of baking soda to be a little high, I could taste it in the cupcakes and that's not a good thing. It's tough to mess with the chemistry of a cupcake though (ask me how I know! hah), so if I was really dedicated to bringing bacon cupcakes to the world, I'd do some experimenting, but... meh, I'm not. I would've liked them a tiny bit sweeter too, but maybe taking the baking soda down a bit would help bring out the maple some more. The bacon was good though... I'm starting to really like the sweet and salty combination! One other thing about this recipe - because the tins were so overfull, they got really big crowns which dried out quite a bit. Would definitely make more, smaller cupcakes next time.
Overall... I wouldn't be ashamed to give this to someone who really loved bacon. But it wouldn't be my first choice to bring someone around to the magic of bacon in dessert.