The challenge: Iron Cupcake:Earth. The theme: Chocolate with a Twist. Admittedly, something like peppermint would be more suited to the holiday season, but I've been wanting to try bacon cupcakes for a while, and I figured this was the perfect chance!
I've seen bacon cupcakes at a few places around the internet, and I was definitely wary at first. But after reading how much people loved them, I went and tried the Mo's Chocolate Bacon bar and was immediately hooked on the salty, smoky flavors in the bacon alongside the rich and bitter chocolate.
For the frosting, I wanted something complementary to both flavors, so I went for a caramel Swiss meringue buttercream. It was sooo good just by itself that if it weren't for the POUND of butter in it, I would have just eaten the frosting by the spoonful;) (OK, OK, I did... but only a little!)
I cooked the bacon in the micro until it was crispy, then chopped it up very fine. I think next time I might use even more bacon (I used 1/2 pound uncooked).
The batter was very smooth and shiny, since the butter in the recipe is melted with the chocolate and there is not too much flour.
I used a #20 disher at first, but it was making way too many cupcakes, so I put a little more in each one. Next time I will use a #16 disher.
A. and I have been playing a "Hide the Pleepleus" game. I'm hiding him on my blog. ;)
The cupcakes are moist inside, but not dense. They get a bit of a crust on top, as you can see. These are the cupcakes that I added an extra tablespoon-ish batter to:
And here are a few cupcakes that came from the #20 disher with no extra batter:
Here are the finished products! I had to put some red sugar sprinkles on them after this to distract from the mostly-fugly piping job. I don't seem to be getting any better at piping, even after watching videos and such. I guess I just need to practice some more... :) Anyone have some tips for me??
Chocolate Bacon Cupcakes with Caramel Buttercream
Recipe for cupakes adapted from chockylit's chocolate cupcakes, and recipe for frosting from Martha Stewart's caramel buttercream.
Cupcakes: Chocolate Bacon Cupcakes (yields around 24)
200 grams of dark chocolate, chopped
3 sticks butter (340 g), at room temperature
2-1/4 cups sugar (250 g)
1-1/4 cup flour (165 g)
1/4 cup cocoa powder, unsweetened (23 g)
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 pound uncooked bacon
- Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit.
- Cook the bacon until crispy. (I like to do this in the microwave for maximum crispiness, but you could also use a skillet.) Chop the bacon into very small pieces and set aside.
- Place chocolate and butter in a metal bowl (you can use the bowl of a standing mixer) and put the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir until everything is melted.
- Remove the bowl from the water and stir in the sugar. Let the mixture cool for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt; set aside.
- When the chocolate mixture is cool, beat with an electric mixer or your stand mixer for 3 minutes. The mixture will get just a tad thicker.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 30 seconds between each one. After two or three eggs, the mixture will start to get thicker and shinier.
- Once all the eggs are incorporated, add the dry ingredients. Mix on a low speed until the dry ingredients are just incorporated.
- Add the bacon and fold it in with a spatula.
- Scoop the batter into cupcake cups until 1/2 to 2/3 full. (I used my #20 disher, but it was actually a little small, so I added another tablespoon to each. Next time I will go for the #16 disher.)
- Bake at 350° Fahrenheit for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool for a few minutes in the pan before removing to a cooling rack.
Frosting: Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream
1 1/4 cups sugar (250 g), separated in half (1/2 c + 2 Tbsp per half, or 125 g)
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup heavy cream
6 large egg whites (I use powdered egg whites plus water)
Pinch of salt
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened and cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Make the caramel: Place half of the sugar and the water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is clear. Let the syrup come to a boil, washing down the sides with a wet pastry brush if necessary to prevent crystals from forming.
Boil the syrup, swirling occasionally, until it changes color to dark amber (~340° on a candy thermometer).
- Immediately remove from the heat (the sugar will burn if it gets to 350°). Carefully add the cream, standing away from the pan since the mixture will bubble a lot. Stir the caramel until smooth and transfer to a heatproof bowl to cool. (I actually put the bowl into an ice bath, stirring occasionally, to help it cool faster.)
- While the caramel cools, place the rest of the sugar, the egg whites and the salt in the metal bowl of a standing mixer. Place the bowl over a pan of boiling water. Whisk continuously until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture reaches 140° Fahrenheit.
- Fit the standing mixer with the whisk attachment and put the bowl in place. Beat the mixture on medium-high speed until it is stiff.
- Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low and begin adding the butter, a tablespoon or two at a time (it really needs to be room temperature/soft before doing this). Beat until the butter is no longer visible, and add in more, until it is all added. At some point it will look curdled and broken, but just keep on beating and beating until it gets smooth again. This could take a few minutes.
- Switch to the paddle attachment and add the caramel and vanilla extract. Beat on low until combined and smooth, 3 to 5 minutes.
- At this point you can frost your cupcakes, or you can refrigerate the buttercream for up to 2 days. When you want to use it, take it out of the fridge and bring to room temperature, about an hour. Rebeat in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
I took these cupcakes to my uncle's 60th birthday party, and they went over very well! I highly recommend them, and I wish I could eat one every day ;)
Below are the prizes for the Iron Cupcake:Earth winner!
Etsy Prize Pack, consisting of:
* a prize from BETTY TURBO
* cupcake earrings from LOTS OF SPRINKLES
* a prize from Cakespy
Plus, there are also cupcake pincushions up for grabs, complements of Sweet Cuppin' Cakes Bakery and Cupcakery Supply.
And, as always, the Iron Cupcake corporate prize providers are:
HEAD CHEFS by FIESTA PRODUCTS, HELLO CUPCAKE by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson, JESSIE STEELE APRONS, CUPCAKE COURIER, and
TASTE OF HOME books. Iron Cupcake:Earth is also sponsored by 1-800-Flowers.
Good luck to all of the other bakers... but please vote for ME ;) You can vote starting on Monday, Dec. 29th at No One Puts Cupcake in a Corner!