29 November 2008

Sweet and Salty Bacon Carmel Cupcakes

When I saw the Shuna Fish Lydon recipe that Dolores, Alex and Jenny picked out for this month's challenge I wasn't that excited. Carmel Cake with Brown Butter Icing just didn't sound like my thing and as my fellow Daring Bakers kept talking about how overwhelmingly sweet the cake turned out, I realized I would have to try to get creative on this one. It's not that I don't like carmel or browned butter but sweet has never been my preferred flavor and that seemed to be what this cake was about. I like my chocolate dark, fruits tart and sugary icing kept to a minimum. I was trying to decide what I could do to keep to the original recipe yet provide a counterbalance to the sweet carmel and icing when I hit upon bacon. Now I am not the first one to put bacon into a dessert or even a cupcake but I will admit I felt pretty daring doing it.

I decided to mix crumbled bacon directly into the cupcake batter so Zach cooked up a pile of bacon on baking day then it was time for me to get to work. First off, I made the carmel. A lot of bakers posted about the problems they had with this step, so I read over some helpful instructions and got to work. I stood over the boiling sugar keeping a close watch (and had bucket'o ice water handy in case of emergency) but brought the carmel to the smoking point without problem. It was sort of scary to pour the water into the boiling carmel, but a strainer perched on top of the pot prevented any spillover or splashing.

Next I put together the batter which was relatively simple compared to past challenges- cream butter and sugar, add dry wet dry and done. I spooned some plain batter into the prepared tins and then crumbled in the bacon. I did have some last minute hesitation, worried that I was going to wreck a whole recipe but went ahead with it anyway. As the cupcakes baked, I browned the butter and made the frosting. I had a little taste of the frosting before I iced the cupcakes and I'm very glad I did. It had a nice consistency but I couldn't really get over the browned butter flavor. It was so strong I found it almost offensive and just piped a tiny bit onto each cake and topped each with a sliver of bacon.

For the moment of truth I invited M&S over (you remember M--, he gave me the romanesco). They were a bit leery of the bacon in the cupcakes but we all pulled off the wrappers and had a bite. Success. Everyone liked the bacon cupcakes. The smoky, salty flavor of the bacon balanced out the overwhelming sweetness of the carmel cake. The cake itself turned out a beautiful golden texture and was really moist, thanks to all of the sugar. S-- and Zach liked the frosting much more than I did and piped some extra onto their cakes.

Will I make this one again? No, I don't think so but I will be trying bacon in other desserts in the future.

14 comments:

abby said...

brilliant idea to include the bacon - truly daring :)

Tia said...

You are my favorite person in the world for adding bacon to your cake batter. lol Bacon is like the duct tape of the culinary world- it can fix anything. ;)

Alana said...

Oh wow, brilliant idea! Nothing I love more than the juxtaposition of sweet and salty.

BC said...

Bacon? You are the epitome of a Daring Baker. I am in awe!

Rebecca said...

You had me at bacon. :o)

kat said...

I did bacon & chocolate cupcakes this summer & everyone thought it was so strange but really that sweet & salty combination is so good!

Audax Artifex said...

You really deserve the title of DARING BAKER what a great idea to add the saltiness of bacon to counteract the sweetness of this cake. Grat job a nice idea well pulled off. Happy holidays to you and your kin.

Tara said...

What a wonderful idea! I love mixing sweet and savoury in dishes... why didn't I think of that? haha... nice job :)

Tartelette said...

Ha! I would have never thought of that, in my little all sweet-warped mind but this is brilliant! Great idea Jen! You make the DB proud :)

Lynn said...

Well, sounds like you have that Sweet & Salty thing down pat. After tasting the cake, I have to admit, biting into a piece of bacon would have been terrific. Excellent job and great idea.

Gretchen Noelle said...

I bet the bacon would go over well in the cupcakes. Great thinking!!

Jen said...

Thank you all for the comments-- this is the first time I've really gone out on a limb while baking and I'm so glad the results turned out.

glamah16 said...

You did go out on a limb and they sound to die for. I love this! Great work.

Vera said...

The addition of bacon is such an original idea, Jen!