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Is it too late to jump on the bacon chocolate hype train? The first time I experienced this sinful combination was at a food truck festival down at Toronto’s Distillery district a few years ago. There, I had a maple bacon donut from the restaurant Beast. It was pretty delicious for a donut even for a non-bacon lover like me. Yes it’s true, I am not a huge bacon fan or maybe, I should say I was not. I think the boyfriend’s love for bacon is rubbing a little off of me. So much that I decided to bake with it!

The cupcake base is different from usual. Instead of creaming butter and sugar, the recipe melts butter and sugar in a pot. To figure out why I’ve asked Google! Here is a good simple answer I’ve found from Chowhound:

Texture is the difference. When you cream the butter and sugar together, you create tiny air bubbles through the mixture. This is why it starts out yellow and can turn almost white when you cream it a long time. The leavening in the cake makes these tiny bubbles bigger and you end up with a higher rising cake. Mixing in melted butter doesn’t create as many bubbles, so you end up with a denser product, closer in texture to a muffin than to regular cake.

I guess this makes sense, maybe you want a denser cupcake to hold the bacon bits inside!

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The cupcake base tastes very much like a regular good old chocolate cupcake but with occasional bursts of smokey flavour from the bacon. I do find it is a little bit on the dry side, I wonder if it is because of the melted butter versus softened butter thing. But not to worry icing fixes everything ;). The maple frosting is a little on the sweet side for me. Especially if you drizzle the maple syrup on top. But because the cupcake itself is not too sweet, it helps to balance the taste of the frosting. If I revisit this recipe again, I will try creaming the butter or a different chocolate cake base recipe. (UPDATE: I brought these in for my coworkers and they all loved it! They didn’t think it was dry nor the icing was too sweet. I guess “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts” works in the cupcake world too!)

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These beauties are waiting to be frosted and drizzled

My favourite part of this cupcake are the candied bacon bits on top. This is my first time making candied bacon but it will not be the last. They are so yummy to just eat by themselves. Good thing I made these after lunch today, or we would’ve nomed all of them up before I frosted the cupcakes. I love the crispiness and maple flavour. Mmm! If you are a bacon fan, don’t be afraid to sprinkle a generous amount on top 😉

CHOCOLATE BACON CUPCAKES WITH MAPLE FROSTING (Adapted from: The Novice Chef)

Makes 24 cupcakes

Ingredients:
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
3/4 cup hot water
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream, room temperature
3/4 cup bacon, cooked and chopped

1 cup unsalted butter; room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3-4 cups  confectioners’ sugar
1/3 cup pure maple syrup; plus more for drizzling
1 teaspoon salt
Candied bacon* bits for topping (optional)

Directions:
For the cake:
Preheat oven to 350 F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together cocoa and hot water until smooth. In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

Melt butter with sugar in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring to combine. Remove from heat, and pour into a mixing bowl. With an electric mixer on medium-low speed, beat until mixture is cooled, 4 to 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add vanilla, then cocoa mixture, and beat until combined. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the sour cream, and beating until just combined after each. Remove from stand mixer and gently fold in bacon.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three- quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool 15 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely. Frost as desired.

For the frosting:
Cream the butter in the bowl of an electric or stand mixer. Add the vanilla extract, salt and pure maple syrup and combine well.

Begin adding in the sugar and mixing thoroughly after each addition. After all of the sugar has been added and mixed thoroughly, give it a taste and decide if you want to add in more maple syrup. For thicker frosting you can gradually add in a little more sugar.

Garnish with chopped bacon and a drizzle of pure maple syrup if you wish.

*MAPLE CANDIED BACON (From The Clever Carrot)

Ingredients
1 lb. good quality bacon, sliced
2 tbsp. pure maple syrup (not pancake syrup)
¼ c. brown sugar
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
½ tsp. Kosher salt
¼ tsp cayenne pepper

Instructions
Preheat your oven to 350 F.
Wrap a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and top with a wire rack.
In a large bowl, add the maple syrup, brown sugar, Dijon mustard, Kosher salt, and cayenne pepper. Mix well.
Add the bacon to the bowl and toss gently with your hands. Make sure that all of the slices are evenly coated
Place the bacon in a single layer onto the wire rack.
Bake in the center of the oven for about 20 minutes. The bacon will be a bit brown, but will most likely need to bake for another 10-15 minutes. It should look slightly dark (not burnt) and crispy. If you take it out too soon, the texture will be chewy. Be patient!
Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes on the rack. Don’t let them sit too long or else they will stick.
Once cool enough to handle, you can break the bacon into chards (you’ll have about 32 pieces). Alternatively, you can leave them whole.
Serve at room temperature.

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