I’m just gonna come out and say it…
There. I said it. Are you happy?
I put bacon in a cupcake. What? I did. Shut up.
The whole thing just felt wrong. I know there are a lot of people out there who are rejoicing at this, and love the idea, but I’ve never been one of them. Throughout the entire process of preparing, cooking, chopping, and mixing that damned bacon in, my head hung low in shame.
Yes, I love bacon. I do. But I’m usually highly insulted by bacon presuming to think that it has any place in dessert.
Sweet and salty is a wonderful, glorious thing; I love my bacon drenched in maple syrup, but I just had to draw the line somewhere, you know? And the line was cupcakes. It wasn’t going to happen.
And then it did.
Don’t judge me, though. How could I know if this was right if I didn’t try?
I know, the real question is, why would I even try it in the first place? Well, it all started with a waffle. Do you remember those waffles I made last year? The ones that I still firmly believe will bring about world peace…
But then, bacon in waffles isn’t so very far fetched. They’re both breakfast foods, after all.
It wasn’t that waffle that did it, though. I suppose that’s where it all started, but the true push to go against everything I stand for came when we first moved to Oregon. The Hubster was still here, helping with the house hunting, and we decided to have Sunday brunch at Hall Street Grill, up near Portland. And that’s where it happened. That’s where I had the best waffle of my life.
It had candied bacon and hazelnuts in it. It had booze, not just in the syrup, but in the butter, too. It had more candied bacon on top. It practically begged to be made into a cupcake. Who am I to refuse a cupcake?
If you know me at all by now, then you know that I am not anyone who ever refuses a cupcake.
I’m not going to lie to you, there is absolutely nothing healthy about this cupcake. I feel confident saying that it has to be, without a doubt, the most unhealthy creation ever to grace the pages of Bakingdom. But if being unhealthy is wrong, I don’t want to be right.
This is honestly one of the most amazing cupcakes I’ve had. Ever.
If, however, the idea of adding bacon is an act so heinous, you can’t stomach it, then skip it. Truly, the salty bacon bits add so much to these cupcakes, but I made some without, and they were still irresistible. You can skip the booze, too… I mean, I don’t know why you would, but you can.
Let’s get started, shall we? So there’s some caramel making that takes place for these. And some hazelnut toasting. It’s all in the recipe below. Let’s focus on the bacon, though. Sprinkle brown sugar on bacon. I recommend a lot of brown sugar, but do whatever you want. I mean, less is dumb, but whatever.
Once the bacon is cooked and cooled, chop it finely (reserving some whole for garnish). Discard any bits that are just fat and grease, they’re not appealing in the cupcake. Try to only use the meatier bits. These, along with some toasted and roughly chopped hazelnuts, get mixed into the cupcake batter.
If, however, you like your frosting a little more family friendly, skip the amaretto. It’s such a small amount, that it’s perfectly safe, but the maple buttercream is fantastic as-is, too.
Now go ahead and drizzle everything with some drunken caramel. Drunk with bourbon. With this, you’re going to cook the alcohol out, so you can totally keep it in the recipe; all you’re going to end up with here is the flavor.
Garnish your cupcakes with a bit of waffle, if desired, and a nice piece of candied bacon, then try not to eat all of them by yourself. I dare you.
Here’s a downside to these cupcakes: They’re a bit time consuming and labor intensive. You can do a lot of the work ahead of time, though. I made my caramel almost a week ahead of time (even though it only takes about 10 minutes to make), and I toasted my hazelnuts and prepared my bacon the day before. The actual cupcakes take less than 5 minutes to mix up, and they only bake for 18 minutes, while the frosting takes about 10 minutes from start to finish. Really, you could make these from scratch, all in one day, in only about two to two and a half hours of work.
What I’m saying is, these probably aren’t your everyday “Hm, I feel like whipping up some cupcakes” cupcakes. You’ll probably save these for a special occasion, but that’s okay…they’re so decadent, you wouldn’t want to ruin your diet with them unless it was worth it.
I already said it: this is one of the best cupcakes I’ve ever had. These were worth the work, and worth ruining my diet. They were worth going against my pact with myself to keep bacon out of cupcakes. Period.
If you’re looking for a special, knock their socks off, “wow” cupcake, this is The One. Trust me. Enjoy!
Bacon-Hazelnut Buttermilk Cupcakes [Printable Version]
Makes about 14 standard cupcakes
1/2 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon (5 ml)vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups (180 grams) cake flour
3/4 cup (150 grams) sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick or 113 grams) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces and at room temperature
1/4 cup toasted and skinned hazelnuts, roughly chopped (spread on a baking sheet and bake at 350 for 10 minutes, skins will rub off)
6 slices candied bacon, 3 slices finely chopped (remaining 3 for garnish), do not add pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees (180 C). Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners; set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk the buttermilk, eggs, and vanilla until combined; set aside.
In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low, add the butter pieces, one at a time, then increase mixer speed to medium low. Once the butter is fully incorporated, increase speed to medium and beat until well combined (about 30 seconds).
Reduce mixer speed to low and add half of the buttermilk mixture. Mix until just combined, then increase speed to medium high for about 30 seconds. Repeat with the remaining buttermilk mixture. Batter should be fully incorporated with some small lumps; do not overmix. Fold in the hazelnuts and chopped bacon.
Fill each cupcake liner with three tablespoons of batter. Sprinkle each one with maple crystals (optional). Bake for 18 minutes, or until the edges are light golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a crumb or two clinging to it.
Transfer to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool completely before frosting.
Amaretto Maple Buttercream [Printable Version]
Makes about 24 ounces
1 cup (2 sticks or 226 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 pound (about 4 cups or 500 grams) confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon (15 ml) amaretto
1 tablespoon (15 ml) heavy cream
Beat the butter on high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in half of the sugar until combined. Stir in the vanilla and syrup. Beat in the remaining sugar. Add the heavy cream and amaretto, whisk on high for 6 minutes.
Bourbon Caramel Sauce [Printable Version]
**Please see my caramel recipe page for important tips and info on making homemade caramel for the first time.**
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon corn syrup (or agave syrup)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon sea salt, crushed
3 tablespoons (45 ml) bourbon
Place the sugar, water, and corn syrup in a small saucepan, stirring to combine. Without stirring, bring to a boil over high heat, swirling the ingredients in the pan occasionally. Continue boiling until the mixture reaches an amber color. Remove from heat and very carefully (the mixture will quickly expand and sputter) add the cream in a slow steady stream, being sure to stir constantly. Once combined, add the butter and salt, and continue stirring until both are completely melted and combined. Stir in the bourbon until combined. Return the caramel to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and cook for 1 minute. Cool to room temperature before using.
Recipes by Darla