I put bacon in cupcakes. And then, because if we’re going that far we might as well go all the way, I added maple sugar and made a maple frosting to top them with. It’s your favorite diner breakfast, in classy cupcake form.
Seriously, adding bacon to cupcakes has got to be one of my more inspired baking experiments. The crunch, the salt, the bacon-ness, all take these cupcakes over the top. And this is coming from someone who ate a pescatarian diet for three years and who only cooks meat at home once or twice a week. I am all for everyone eating less meat and more plant-based protein, but if you’re going to eat bacon, this is a pretty great way to do it. So bake or fry up 6 slices (5 for the batter, 1 for garnishing later so everyone knows without a shadow of a doubt these cupcakes have bacon in them), crumble them, and let’s get baking.
The other special part of this cupcake batter is the maple sugar. This is maple syrup that has been boiled down to a crystallized state, and it has a delicious maple flavor. You can substitute it in for regular sugar in most recipes, and it adds a delicious depth of flavor to these cupcakes. I made my own, using this recipe, but I’ve also seen it for sale at farmer’s markets. My oldest is currently reading Little House in the Big Woods, which has an entire chapter devoted to making maple sugar (and dancing while it cooks down), so we had a good time making it ourselves.
The frosting here is a standard American buttercream, made with powdered sugar and butter, with a touch of heavy cream, a healthy dose of maple syrup, and a teaspoon of maple extract to make sure that the frosting sings with maple flavor. It’s sweet, but it plays beautifully against the salty bacon in the cupcakes.
These cupcakes are playful, surprising, and truly delicious. If you decide to bake up a batch, whoever is lucky enough to get one will not be disappointed!
- 1 ½ sticks butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup maple sugar (see link in post above for how to make it yourself!)
- 2 eggs
- ½ teaspoon maple extract
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup whole milk
- 5 strips of bacon, cooked and chopped, plus more for garnish
- 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon maple extract
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and generously butter a muffin pan.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
- Add the butter to a large bowl. Beat with a hand mixer (or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment) on medium-high speed until the butter is light and creamy, about 2 minutes.
- Add the maple sugar and beat for two minutes more, until fully combined. Add the eggs, one at a time, waiting until each is fully incorporated before adding the next. Add the maple and vanilla extracts and mix to combine.
- Add half of the dry ingredients and mix on low speed until just combined. Add the milk and mix until just combined. Switch to a rubber spatula and add the rest of the dry ingredients, stirring just until no traces of dry ingredients remain. Gently stir in the bacon pieces.
- Spoon the batter into the muffin tins, filling each to a little over ¾ of the way full. You will likely have leftover batter; you can bake a second half-batch after the first, or use a second muffin pan if you have one! Bake for 18-22 minutes, until golden brown and a tester inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean.
- Put the butter in a large bowl and use a hand mixer (or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment) to beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the powdered sugar ½ cup at a time, mixing each addition in completely before adding the next. Add the heavy cream and beat on high speed for 30 seconds. Add the maple syrup and maple extract and mix to combine.