Tag Archives: cupcakes

dark chocolate bacon cupcakes

2 Feb

Oh no you didn’t! Oh yes, I did. Bacon in the batter. Bacon in the frosting. Bacon garnish… I’m such a pig.

I blame January’s issue of Food & Wine for my renewed obsession with bacon. According to their keenly calculated trend predictions, breakfast foods are set to make a huge comeback in 2011, especially my dear friend bacon.

Last month was J’s birthday. Like myself, J doesn’t care much for sweets, so I immediately began brainstorming savory desserts. Something nutty? Cheese-y? Meaty? Mmmmmyes.

Coffee, rich Scharffen Berger cocoa, buttermilk, and a whole pound of bacon… it’s the stuff birthday dreams are made of. Moist dark chocolate cake (healthily embedded with bacon bits) meets “baconcream” frosting and a crispy strip of the good stuff. Hello, bacon cupcakes!

dark chocolate bacon cupcakes
the whole hog

cupcakes:
* 1 lb. bacon
* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
* 2 cups sugar
* 2 teaspoons baking soda
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 2 eggs
* 1 cup cold, strong, brewed coffee
* 1 cup buttermilk
* 1/2 cup vegetable oil

frosting:
* 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
* 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
* 1/3 cup butter
* 1/2 cup of reserved bacon fat
* 1/3 cup evaporated milk
* 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until evenly brown. Reserve bacon fat for frosting, drain bacon on paper towels, crumble 3/4 of the bacon strips and set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, 3/4 cup cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the eggs, coffee, buttermilk and oil. Stir just until blended. Mix in bacon bits, reserving the rest for garnish. Spoon the batter into the prepared cups, dividing evenly.

Bake in the preheated oven until the tops spring back when lightly pressed, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in the pan set over a wire rack.

Prepare frosting: In a medium bowl, sift together the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa, and set aside. In a large bowl, cream butter and bacon fat until smooth, then gradually beat in sugar mixture alternately with evaporated milk. Blend in vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy. If necessary, adjust consistency with more milk or sugar.

Frost cupcakes generously and decorate with reserved bacon strips. Makes 24 cupcakes.

vanilla on vanilla cupcakes

13 Sep

Simplicity is vastly underrated these days. Take for instance Lady Gaga at last night’s VMAs. Zillions of wardrobe changes, costumer-bearing servants to move her from seat to stage, and a dress made of meat. It’s what we’ve come to expect: OVER STIMULATION.

I won’t deny it. I’m just a copacetic lemming in this tornado of consumption from pop culture to gastronomy. But, every now and then, a day comes along when I stop to smell the ocean breeze, charge up a mountain, and revel in the grit of dirt on my face.

View of SF and its two bridges - Mt. Livermore - Angel Island - Click to enlarge

It was Rosie the birthday girl’s request to spend the day hiking and picnicking at Angel Island. Also requested: cupcakes. When asked for her favorite flavor, I was surprised by her immediate and enthusiastic response — VANILLA! Often deemed a distant second to chocolate or canvas for fruit flavors, we forget how pure, simple and spectacular vanilla can be on its own.

Like an ode to childhood, I resolved to bake a batch of vanilla cupcakes with vanilla frosting and bright pink sugar sprinkles. The cake batter, however, was strictly an “adults only” version with rich pound cake consistency. And, instead of the frosting tub crap from the grocery store, I whipped together an easy cream cheese and vanilla buttercream.

Pure vanilla-on-vanilla goodness is how I’d best describe these cupcakes. Spectacular in their simplicity — just like our day of hiking and birthday-celebrating at Angel Island.

vanilla on vanilla cupcakes
adapted from the barefoot contessa

* 18 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
* 3 cups sugar
* 6 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
* 1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
* 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
* 3 cups all-purpose flour
* 1/3 cup cornstarch
* 1 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1 teaspoon baking soda

For the icing:
* 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
* 1 pound cream cheese, at room temperature
* 3/4 pound confectioners’ sugar, sifted
* 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin pans with paper liners.

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high speed, until light and fluffy. On medium speed, add the eggs, 2 at a time, then add the sour cream and vanilla. Scrape down the sides and stir until smooth.

Sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda in a bowl. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until just combined. Fill the cupcake liners 2/3-full with batter. Bake in the center of the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool to room temperature.

For the icing, mix the butter, cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed, mixing just until smooth. Spread the frosting generously on top of each cupcake.

Makes 30 cupcakes (I know, it’s sorta too much!).

mint chocolate cupcakes, metrics mayhem

15 Jul

At Christmas time, Trader Joes makes a special candy cane version of their Joe-Joe cookies (fake Oreos), which happens to be a favorite of my friend Mariel. So, when asked to make birthday cupcakes for her 30th, I set out to find a recipe that would mimic that oh-so-festive mint and chocolate combination.

Unfortunately, a search for “mint chocolate cupcakes” returns surprisingly slim pickings. However, one recipe stood out with a description stating “like an AERO chocolate in cupcake form.” If you’ve ever had an AERO bar, the titillating sensation of bubbles of chocolate bursting on your tongue immediately springs to mind. I was definitely going to make this recipe.

Of course as AERO would suggest, this recipe comes from the UK, specifically from the kitchen goddess herself, Nigella Lawson. While I am a huge fan of Nigella, she does live in the land of metrics and I am total crap at mathematical conversions. But… I will do just about anything for the sake of a cupcake.

Here is my metrics conversion masterpiece. Perhaps a tad bit off, since the cupcakes turned out slightly more concave than convex…. all the more room for butter cream frosting!

mint chocolate cupcakes with butter cream frosting
adapted and converted from Nigella

batter:
* 1 2/3 cup self raising flour (not the same as AP flour, but you can find it at Safeway)
* 4 tbsp cocoa powder
* 1 tsp baking powder
* 1 1/8 c super fine sugar
* 2 sticks unsalted butter
* 4 eggs
* 1 tsp peppermint extract
* 3/4 c plain choc chips

icing:
* 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
* 1 2/3 cup confectioners sugar, sieved
* 1 tsp peppermint extract
* green food colouring

Preheat oven to 325-degrees.

Place 18 paper wrappers into muffin tins.

In a bowl sieve flour, baking powder and cocoa. Beat butter and sugar together in another bowl. Add eggs one at a time and beat together.

Add flour mixture gradually. Stir in the mint extract and chocolate chips. Spoon mixture into cases and bake for about 25 mins.

To make icing, beat icing sugar and butter in a bowl stir in the mint extract, and just enough food coloring to turn the icing mint green.

Ice the cooled cupcakes and decorate with chocolate chips or sprinkles.

Did I mention our cowboy party theme?