Note: I received a bottle of Nielsen-Massey’s Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract in order to write this post. All opinions are mine alone. #BetterYourBake
How is it already nearly October? Every fall, time seems to speed up and the months for the rest of the year just fly by! With so much happening in the fall, it makes sense that it feels like things are in fast forward. But it’s important to take the time to step back and do something you enjoy amid all the chaos.
Nielsen-Massey was nice enough to remind me of that, and sent me a bottle of their Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract to do what I love: bake! Recent studies have shown that creative activities, such as baking, help people feel more relaxed and happier in their everyday lives.
But in order to benefit from the mindful nature of baking, basic techniques must first be mastered. To help learn some new baking tricks, Nielsen-Massey has developed “Better Your Bake,” which delivers technique-based videos, tips and tools to help home bakers learn and master the basics of baking with the help of Nielsen-Massey products.
I was asked to show off my newest learned skill after watching some of Nielsen-Massey’s videos: how to temper chocolate. It takes some effort, but it’s easier than an initially thought!
- Tempering chocolate is typically used for special occasions and results in a smooth, glossy chocolate coating that dries shiny and has a crisp snap
- The process involves divvying and melting a portion of the chocolate, stirring in the reserved chocolate and heating the whole batch to the required temperature
- Tempered chocolate is great for cake pops, fruit, candy molds and more
So, what could be better than chocolate covered bacon? This recipe, from Nielsen-Massey’s website, originally developed by Pastry Chef Jessica Ellington, is for Maple Bacon Cupcakes, topped with a maple buttercream frosting, crumbled bacon, and a half slice of chocolate dipped bacon. And yes, they are every bit as delicious as you are imagining!
Nielsen-Massey has a bunch of videos that are helpful for this recipe, so I’ve linked to them throughout the post.
Maple Bacon Cupcakes
- 8 slices of bacon, cooked and crispy
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), room temperature
- 2 cups sugar
- 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
- 4 eggs, yolks and whites separated
- 1 teaspoon Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract
- 1 ½ cups cake flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ cup whole milk
- 1 cup bittersweet chocolate, chopped, divided
- 9 slices of bacon, cooked and crispy
Maple Buttercream Frosting
- ¾ cup unsalted butter (1 ½ sticks)
- 1 ½ cups pure maple syrup
- 1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/3 cup half and half
- ¾ teaspoon Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract
- 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
Preheat your oven to 375°F. Cook your bacon (you need 17 slices total) however you prefer, (my favorite way can be found within this post), just make sure its extra crispy. Finely chop eight slices of the cooked bacon and divide in half. Half the bacon will be incorporated in the cupcake and the other half will be used to decorate your cupcakes.
Separate your egg whites and egg yolks. I put all the egg whites in one bowl and each egg yolk in a separate bowl so I could add them to the batter one at a time.
Prepare two, 12-cup cupcake pans by lining 18 cups with a paper cupcake liner.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a large bowl with a hand mixer, cream together butter, sugar and maple syrup for several minutes until light in color and fluffy.
Continue mixing, adding one egg yolk at a time, making sure each yolk is fully incorporated before adding the next.
Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, add vanilla and mix briefly.
Combine the cake flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl.
Slowly mix 1/3 of the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture. Continue mixing slowly and add half of the milk and another 1/3 of the dry ingredients. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the remaining milk and dry ingredients, mixing until combined.
In a separate medium bowl, using a whisk or handheld mixer, whisk egg whites to stiff peaks.
Gently fold whipped egg whites and half of the chopped bacon into the cake mixture until just combined. Take care to not over-mix.
Divide batter evenly into the prepared cupcake pans.
Bake for 14-18 minutes until light golden brown or a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool cupcakes for 5 minutes in pan, then finish cooling on a rack before frosting.
While the cupcakes cook, make your chocolate dipped bacon. Cut nine strips of bacon in half.
Place roughly 3/4 of the chocolate in a dry, heat-proof bowl. Fill a small pot with 1-2 inches of water and bring it to a light simmer. Create a double boiler by placing the heatproof bowl of chocolate over the pot. Turn the heat down to low. The bowl should not touch the water. If the bowl is touching the water, remove enough water so the bowl is no longer touching it. Let the chocolate sit over the hot water, uncovered, until it is about 2/3 melted. Be careful to not let any water splash or touch the chocolate.
Once the chocolate is about 2/3 melted, gently stir and allow it to melt completely until a candy thermometer reaches 115°F. Remove the melted chocolate from the pot and set it aside.
Add the remaining unmelted chocolate to the melted chocolate, stirring constantly until all pieces have melted and the mixture cools to 79°F. Raise the temperature of the chocolate to 89°F by briefly placing it back over a pot of simmering water or microwaving it for 5 seconds at a time. To check if the chocolate is in temper, dip a small piece of parchment paper in the melted chocolate.
When the chocolate sets to a satiny texture and glossy finish, it is ready to use.
Note that cooling temperatures vary by type of chocolate. If the chocolate doesn’t start to set within 2-3 minutes, allow chocolate to cool to 87°F and test again.
Working quickly, dip each piece of bacon halfway into the tempered chocolate. Let excess chocolate drip back into the bowl and place onto parchment paper to set.
Once set, the dipped bacon is ready to be used.
To make the frosting, bring butter, maple syrup, salt and half and half to a boil over medium heat in a medium sized pot. Continue boiling until mixture reaches 225°F, about 5 minutes.
Carefully pour mixture in the bowl of stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or into a large bowl to use a handheld mixer. Whisk mixture on medium speed for about 5 minutes or until it is lukewarm. Add vanilla and mix.
Gradually add powdered sugar and continue mixing on medium until the frosting is completely cooled and thick.
You’re looking for the frosting to be stiff enough to maintain its shape on the whisk. If the mixture is too runny, add more powered sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. If the mixture is too thick for your liking, add water or half and half, 1 tablespoon at a time.
Frost cupcakes as desired.
Sprinkle remaining half of chopped bacon on top of frosting and top each cupcake with a piece of chocolate-dipped bacon.
These cupcakes are fluffy with a hint of maple syrup, plus yummy bits of bacon. The maple buttercream frosting adds the perfect amount of sweetness. You get some nice crunch from the bacon topping, plus a salty, chocolately bite from the chocolate covered bacon.
Where have these been my whole life?