Maple Bacon Cupcakes

I knew that these cupcakes were going to be a smash the second I baked them up and frosted them. The bacon craze still seems like it's going strong, and I definitely like the idea of bacon in all baked goods. When I got a request for a cupcake containing bacon, I was thrilled to try out the idea. I couldn't find anything on the internet that was exactly what I was looking for, so I combined a few elements of other bacon cupcakes to make these. I chose a buttermilk cake with a hint of maple syrup for the base of the cupcake. I don't like using maple extract and I didn't want too much maple syrup in the cupcake, so it was a challenge to get the right ratio of maple syrup to sugar, but in the end I think I found the perfect formula.

The frosting is where things got a little tricky. I wanted a bacon buttercream with a hint of maple that didn't contain bacon chunks. That was where I had to get creative since I didn't see anything on the internet like that. I finally decided to cook up and crumble a few slices of bacon, and then steep that into milk to create a bacon milk (you can infuse flavors like vanilla bean into milk, so why not bacon?). I turned that into a sweet buttercream with a hint of maple syrup.

The groom (these cupcakes were for a Memorial Day post-wedding celebration) really loved chocolate covered bacon, but I opted in the end to make a candied bacon garnish to do something a little different. I found that having that little extra bite on top made all the difference in these. It's always little touches like that that can make food feel extra special. Don't leave it out! Seriously, altogether a stellar cupcake I would make again in a second!

Maple Bacon Cupcakes
Yield: 36 cupcakes

For the maple buttermilk cupcakes: 
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup plus 2 tbsp (2 1/4 sticks) salted butter, at room temp
1 cup packed light brown sugar
5 large eggs plus 3 egg yolks
3/4 cup grade B maple syrup
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 cups buttermilk

For the bacon buttercream:
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) salted butter, at room temp
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
1 1/2 cups bacon-infused milk (see note at bottom), divided
5 tbsp all-purpose flour

For the candied bacon garnish:
12 slices thick-cut bacon
1 cup light brown sugar

Begin by making the maple buttermilk cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream together the butter and brown sugar until pale and fluffy, about 8 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium. Add whole eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add yolks, and beat until thoroughly combined. Add the maple syrup and vanilla and beat until the mixture is combined and homogeneous. 

Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk, and beating until combined after each.

Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until cupcakes spring back when lightly touched and a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool 10 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto racks and let cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the bacon buttercream: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream together the butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy, about 8 minutes. Add the maple syrup and beat to combine. Set aside. 

Add 1/2 cup bacon-milk to a saucepan over medium heat. Sprinkle in the flour and whisk to combine. The mixture should turn into a thick paste. Stream in another 1/2 cup of the bacon-milk and whisk to combine. The mixture should begin to thicken almost immediately. Slowly whisk in the remaining bacon-milk and cook until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens, another couple of minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. If there are any lumps at this point you can strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve. 

Pour the cooled bacon-milk mixture into the stand mixer and beat on low speed to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and crank the mixture to medium-high. Let whip away until light and fluffy, about 8 minutes.

To make the candied bacon garnish: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lay a rack over a rimmed baking sheet covered in foil and lay out the bacon slices side by side. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the brown sugar over the bacon slices and press it in. Bake the bacon until the brown sugar melts and bubbles, about 10 minutes.

Remove the bacon and let cool for 5 minutes. Flip the bacon slices over and sprinkle/press in the remaining sugar. Bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until the sugar is bubbling. Let cool completely.

To assemble: Frost each cooled cupcake with bacon buttercream and garnish with a piece of cooled candied bacon. Enjoy!

Note: To make bacon-infused milk, cook off 6 slices of thick-cut bacon in a pan over medium-high heat until crispy. Remove the bacon and crumble/cut into small pieces. Add the bacon crumbles to a saucepan with 1 3/4 cups milk over medium heat. Cook just until the mixture comes to a simmer. Remove from the heat and let steep, covered, for 30 minutes. Strain out the bacon, discard, and refrigerate the bacon-milk until you're ready to use it.

cupcake recipe heavily adapted from Martha Stewart, buttercream recipe is a Sarah Cupcake original, candied bacon recipe inspired from Gourmet

11 Response to Maple Bacon Cupcakes

May 29, 2012 at 7:11 AM

Seriously!!!! have my full attention!! What a fantastic sweet/savory combo for a cupcake!! Hope you had a great Memorial Day celebration. :)

May 29, 2012 at 8:35 AM

yum sounds like a wonderful idea, love the bacon infused milk!!! sounds like a wonderful weekend!

May 29, 2012 at 10:59 AM

Bacon milk? Candied bacon? I love you. May the bacon craze never end. You've been buzzed!

May 29, 2012 at 12:38 PM

Oh my word I think I'm in love!!! Bacon buttermilk...I can hear it calling my name :)

May 29, 2012 at 4:26 PM

Well, without ever having tasted anything like this, I can already tell you that I'm quite certain I'll love it!

June 11, 2012 at 2:19 AM

Wow..I never would have thought to mix these ingredients. Definitely an interesting combination.

June 28, 2012 at 7:49 PM

I couldn't get the consistency of the buttercream right. Mine came out runny. It tasted good, but it was too runny to ice the cupcakes. I had to modify my go-to recipe. Overall, the cupcake is delicious.

June 28, 2012 at 8:31 PM

Did you cook the roux - flour bacon milk mixture - until it was thick? And did you completely cool the mixture before you added it to the stand mixer? You might have needed to beat it for longer to incorporate more air, also.

I'm glad you liked the flavor :)

August 4, 2012 at 10:17 AM

I made the cupcakes and they are perfect! But the frosting didn't turn out :( must have did something wrong...

January 21, 2013 at 7:46 PM

I overcooked the bacon, but other than that, these are amazing! The cupcakes are light and fluffy, and the icing is to die for!

February 4, 2013 at 11:03 AM

Tested this recipe for a Super Bowl party -- they were a hit! Tasted like pancakes and bacon. I let the cupcakes set a good 12 hours before serving, seems to bring out the flavors more. The only criticism is that the cake was more bread-like than cake like -- perhaps less buttermilk? Also, next time I plan to add more maple syrup to the frosting. The bacon flavor overwhelmed the maple flavor a bit.

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