Saturday, May 1, 2010

"French Toast and Bacon" Cupcakes

Simply put, these are the best cupcakes I’ve ever made and probably the best cupcakes I’ve ever eaten. Yes, I know, a bold statment. Bacon in desserts is a big trend, and I’m certainly not the first to put bacon on a cupcake. Regardless, I’m thrilled that this recipe turned out so well on the first try. These treats taste exactly like French toast with butter, maple syrup and a side of bacon. It’s a great excuse to eat cake for breakfast (as if we really needed an excuse?).


Glazed walnuts:
24 walnut halves
¼ cup real maple syrup
Pinch of salt

French toast cupcakes:
1 package of Duncan Hines yellow cake mix
2 eggs
1/3 cup oil
1 1/3 cup water
1 tsp cinnamon

Maple buttercream:
½ cup butter (salted), room temp
½ cup butter flavor Crisco
1 lb. confectioners sugar
¼ cup milk
2 tsp imitation maple flavor extract

Bacon bits:
1 lb. high quality bacon

Start cooking bacon while you prepare the glazed walnuts. I bake my bacon on a foil-covered jelly roll pan in the oven at 375 F. You want to cook the bacon long enough that it is VERY dark brown and completely crispy. You definitely don’t want any soft fat left. I let mine go to a dark brown, just a few minutes shy of almost burning it. It was perfect. Let cool and break into small shards about the size of your pinky nail.

To make the walnuts, place the nuts, salt and syrup in a small sautee pan over low-medium heat. Stir constantly. Syrup will start to bubble, and in several minutes it will start to thicken. Cook the nuts until the syrup gets so thick that it completely coats the nuts and starts to lose some of its sheen. Make sure not to let the syrup/nut mixture burn. Pour the nuts onto parchment paper or foil, separate the nuts and let them cool.
For the cupcakes, blend the cake mix along with the oil, eggs, water and cinnamon on low with a hand mixer for 2 minutes. Pour into lined muffin tins and bake at 350 degrees for 18-22 mins just until a toothpick inserted comes out with a few crumbs clinging to it. Remove from pan and let cupcakes cool completely on a wire rack.

For the maple buttercream, blend the butter and Crisco together in a large bowl with a hand mixer until well combined and softened. Add the confectioners sugar and blend into the fat mixture – icing will be very dry at this point. Add milk and maple flavoring, whip on medium to high for 1-2 minutes until frosting is light and fluffy and has increased in volume. If frosting is not a spreadable consistency, add more milk about 1 TBS at a time to achieve the thickness you want.

Assembly: Take a cooled cupcake, and frost with a generous dollop of maple buttercream. Place one glazed walnut half into top of icing for garnish. Sprinkle some of the bacon bits over the top of the cupcake, gently pressing if needed for bacon to adhere to the icing.