Here we go y'all. I'm about to share the recipe for those cupcakes because, well, you asked me to. And since it's full of All Things Bad For You, I feel the need to use words like "y'all" because it helps me channel Paula Deen and I think she would want to be here for this. In addition, before I get started I would like to give proper credit to the following people for inspiring this creation. To Marie Hjorth, my sister's mother-in-law who not only let our family stay at her house but made us chocolate cake from scratch. It was gone so fast she made us another one. We didn't tell her not to, and that is where I got the cake recipe. To Mo's Bacon Bar and Jim Gaffigan for opening my eyes to the possibilities and wonders of bacon - it's not just for breakfast anymore. I also have to pay homage to Cupcake Wars; if not for them Samantha and I would not have made a huge batch of frosting last week and flavored it four different ways, just to explore the possibilities. That's how we found out that maple frosting was not bad. Nevertheless, Cupcake Wars shares the credit with my mother who taught me from a young age how to make syrup, and was the reason I had maple flavoring to begin with. As for the burnt sugar embellishment, I credit years (and by years I mean the last 24 months we've actually had cable) of watching Food Network and wishing I could have a little of what they were making. I love how they make stuff look pretty, and I wanted to give it a shot. Enough of all that, here's the 4-1-1.
CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES WITH MAPLE FROSTING & CANDIED BACON
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup baking cocoa
2 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
Create three wells in the above mixture (I don't know, because Marie said so) and add each following ingredient in a separate well:
1st well > 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2nd well > 2 Tbsp white distilled vinegar
3rd well > 2 t. vanilla
Pour 2 cups of water over the whole thing and whisk together until smooth.
BAKING DIRECTIONS - all at 350 degrees:
9x13 pan: 30-45 minutes
2 rounds: 25-30 minutes
cupcakes: 22-25 minutes
1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup shortening
4 cups powdered sugar
Add milk to desired consistency
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. Maple flavoring
CANDIED BACON: (Are you still reading this? Wow. I'm impressed.)
Easier than it sounds - I basically put about a teaspoon of butter (Butter. WITH bacon. I know!) in a skillet, threw in a handful of real bacon pieces I got from Costco, let it warm up and then sprinkled it with about 1/4 cup of sugar. Stir for just a minute and let it cool.
EMBELLISHMENT: (Seriously, I can't believe you're still here. I'm so proud of you! You must really want this.)
Butter a cookie sheet. Melt about 1/2 cup of sugar in a skillet, stirring to prevent burning. When it's all smooth remove from heat, and use a spoon to drizzle whatever design you want on the cookie sheet. Let it cool (doesn't take long) and they should pop right off when you're ready to use them.
If you decide to go the distance and make this recipe, do me a favor, will you? Take a picture and email me about it at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will post your pictures and share your feedback, even if it doesn't go well. Who am I kidding? Especially if it doesn't go well. Happy baking!