Remember the time I said that I wanted to do more with maple syrup than just have it with waffles and pancakes? Well, last time I made sea salt chocolate maple peanut butter cups (gosh, that's a mouthful), so this time I decided to go the cupcake route and make maple bacon cupcakes.
To be honest, I'm not the biggest bacon fan. The smell of frying bacon sends me running rather than shuffling towards it eyes dreamily closed, nosed pointed up and nostrils dilated. It smells of grease and fat. And you will too especially if you are the one doing the frying. But, I put aside my less-than-friendly reaction to it because I've been hearing people gush about how heavenly maple and bacon are together.
I'm glad I did.
The bacon is salty and crispy while the frosting is creamy and sweet... That salty-sweet combo works everytime. Everytime.
I used a maple cupcake recipe complete with maple frosting from Baked Explorations. As much as I loved the use of bacon in this cupcake, the maple cupcake itself left me underwhelmed. There wasn't enough maple taste for me, despite maple syrup being the only source of sweetener in this recipe. The resulting cupcakes are mildly sweet and equally mildly flavoured. I can't fault the recipe for that because I think my syrup is too light tasting. I wasn't quite comfortable with the texture though- the cupcakes were not fluffy enough and were a little crumbly, even possibly a tad dry. I'm okay with the crumbly texture, I just wish that they were less dense.
Even though the frosting was named Maple Cream Cheese Frosting, I couldn't taste the maple at all. I'm sure it's not just because of my maple syrup. The recipe called for a mere 2 tablespoons for a huge batch of frosting. I think it's hard to get a good maple punch without maple extract- cream cheese frosting is so liquid-sensitive a little too much liquid can ruin the thing.
I want to be able to decorate the cupcakes using that stylish yet simple technique of ice-cream-scooping a mound of frosting on top and smooshing that mound down and out to the sides, creating an elegant ridge of sorts. Sadly, I don't think decorating is my strong point and my frosting was probably too soft anyway. To think that I even contemplated a basket weave. Pffft.
Maple Bacon Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
recipe adapted from Baked Explorations, taken via thekitchn
Baked Note: Do not, I repeat, do not use imitation maple syrup in this recipe. Actually, avoid imitation maple syrup at all times. It is usually composed of corn syrup and food coloring and, sadly, contains very little, if any, real maple syrup. In short, it’s hard to think of a more disingenuous grocery store product.
For the maple cupcakes
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, slightly softened, cut into chunks
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening, at room temperature
2 cups pure maple syrup (I use grade B to bake with but any grade will suffice)
3 egg yolks
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
For the maple cream cheese frosting
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
12 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons maple syrup
Cooked bacon, crumbled into tiny salty shards
Make the maple cupcakes
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two 12-cup cupcake pans with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening until ribbonlike. Turn the mixer to low and stream in the maple syrup. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until the mixture is nearly uniform in color, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolks and egg, one at a time, and beat until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add half of the flour mixture and mix on low speed until incorporated. Stream in the milk. Stop the mixer, add the rest of the flour, then turn the mixer on until just combined. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and fold in the walnuts.
Fill the prepared cupcake pan about three-quarters full. Bake the cupcakes for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Note: These cupcakes take longer to bake than traditional cupcakes due to the maple syrup.
Allow the cupcakes to cool for 15 minutes in the cupcake pan, then turn them out onto wire racks to cool completely.
Make the cream cheese maple frosting
In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the softened butter until it is completely smooth. Add the cream cheese and beat until combined. Add the sugar and the maple syrup and beat until smooth. Be careful not to overbeat the frosting or it will lose structure. (At this point, if you want to, you can tightly cover the frosting and refrigerate it for a day. Let it soften at room temperature before using.)
Assemble the cupcakes
There are many ways to frost a cupcake. If you have a pastry bag, simply fit with the largest tip, fill the bag with frosting, and pipe enough to cover the cupcake in a big mound. If you do not have a pastry bag, use an ice cream scoop with a release mechanism to scoop the frosting and dispense it onto the top of the cupcake. You can also use an offset spatula to frost the cupcakes. Top with bacon crumbs.
Refrigerate any leftover cupcakes in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Bring cupcakes to room temperature before serving.
Linked to Muffin Monday, Cast Party Wednesday, These Chicks Cooked, Full Plate Thursday, Sweet Treats Thursday, Sweet Tooth Friday, Sweets for a Saturday and Sweet Indulgences Sunday.