If you’re a vegan or vegetarian, you may want to skip this post. If not, allow me to introduce you to my latest cupcake creation..
Yup, that’s bacon. But not just any bacon – candied bacon. If you’re a fan of bacon and you’ve never had this – as I hadn’t before last night – then you’re missing out! It’s sweet and sugary, salty and savory all in one delicious bite. Oh, yeah, and there’s some other stuff below the bacon in these too.. brown sugar cake and maple frosting. I don’t know how to describe this cupcake other than a curious hybrid between breakfast and dessert. Is there a word for that? ‘Bressert,’ maybe? (Okay, that doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as ‘brinner!’)
I’d never made any of the components of this recipe before, but I had high hopes that were not disappointed. I started with the cupcake recipe… admittedly, I found this recipe because we had run out of white sugar and I still wanted a cupcake. In typical cupcake-baking fashion, my mind and hands started to meander through the cupboards in search of what else I could combine them with. I had originally been thinking about candied nuts, but we didn’t have walnuts or pecans and I didn’t think peanuts would be a good match.
That’s when the light bulb went off – we had bacon! And maple syrup! The decision was clearly made. I had no idea how to make candied bacon, but was pleasantly surprised at how ridiculously simple it was. I didn’t bother looking for a recipe for the maple syrup frosting, since I didn’t have enough powdered sugar to make a full batch anyway. You can’t really tell from the pictures, but it was sort of a cross between a maple glaze and a maple frosting. I would have preferred a typical fluffy frosting, but the taste and consistency was enough to satisfy the sugar craving.
Okay, I know you’re just scrolling on through for the recipes, so here you go!
For the cupcakes, I used half of the original recipe, which made 6 perfect cupcakes. (I use silicone liners.) I also replaced equal amounts of butter with vegetable oil instead. (So in my case, I used 1/4 Cup vegetable oil.) The cupcakes turned out really moist and delicious, so I can’t vouch for changes in flavor/texture if you use the butter. I’ve been using oil in my cakes/cupcakes since I prefer cupcakes a little less dry. You’ll notice this recipe has no white sugar. I really liked the flavor of these.. they weren’t overly sweet at all, so don’t be afraid of piling on the frosting!
Brown Sugar Cupcakes
[originally from How Sweet It Is]
makes 12 cupcakes
1 cup loosely packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled (I used vegetable oil)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt, stirring to mix. Set aside. Line a cupcake tin with liners.
In a large bowl, whisk brown sugar and egg until smooth. Add in vanilla extract and milk, again mixing until combined. Slowly pour in melted butter, continuing to whisk. Add in the flour, soda and salt, mixing with a large spoon until batter is smooth.
Using a 1/4 cup measure, add batter to liners. Bake for 16-19 minutes, or until tops are puffy and golden, and don’t jiggle when touched. (Mine were perfect at 19 minutes! Golden brown with a nice dome.) Let cool completely.
Frosting… umm.. no recipe, sorry! I would advise using your favorite vanilla frosting recipe and adding in maple syrup until you’ve reached your desired flavor and consistency. For my 6 cupcakes, I used 2 TB softened butter, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, 1 C powdered sugar, a splash of milk and oh.. about.. 2-3 TB of maple syrup. I needed another 1 C powdered sugar and another splash of milk to get my normal frosting fluffiness, but ran out of sugar, as mentioned above. Honestly, you could make a maple glaze for these and it would still be delicious, or you could make a traditional frosting with the added maple syrup.
Candied Bacon.. this one is super easy! I used a thick cut applewood smoked bacon, which needed a little extra cooking time. Set the timer for a shorter amount of time than you think these will need, and check on them frequently – you don’t want the sugar to burn and in turn burn your bacon!
I reviewed a half a dozen recipes for candied bacon, and the general idea is this:
1. Pour some brown sugar and a dash of cinnamon (if you like cinnamon) onto a plate
2. Coat bacon on both sides with the brown sugar mix
3. Prepare your baking sheet – cover it with aluminum foil, and place a wire rack on top. Spray the wire rack with non-stick spray.
4. Place sugar coated bacon on the baking sheet and bake for about 20-30 minutes until the sugar is syrupy and the bacon has the desired crispness that you prefer. (General oven settings were 325-F for regular bacon, 350-F for thick cut bacon.)
5. Remove from oven and immediately take the bacon off the rack, and allow to cool completely before chopping. (If you can resist eating it all first!)
I used thick cut bacon with my oven at 350-F for 25 minutes. I probably could have put them in another 5 minutes before they burned, but it smelled too good to wait!
Well, there you have it! Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I hear a cupcake calling my name…