I had this idea in my mind for a while. I love those chocolate covered caramels with sea salt, bacon goes great with chocolate (I mean, what doesn't go with bacon?) and I love making cupcakes so I came up with the idea to combine all these things into one awesome recipe.
Step 1: Ingredients
I always use the same recipe for making the batter, no matter what kind of cupcake I am making. I don't follow the directions on the box of mix ('cause I'm a rebel like that) because by switching out some ingredients, your cupcakes will be much more moist and delicious.
One batch of these is about 24 decent sized cupcakes.
One 18.25 oz box of the most chocolaty chocolate cake mix you can find
-4 eggs (instead of what is calls for on the box)
-1 cup butter milk (instead of water that is called for on the box)
-Vegetable oil (amount called for on the box)
-chocolate frosting (you can make this yourself, or buy it, or use a different flavor entirely)
-caramel-filled chocolate candies to make the caramel centers (I used Dove brand since that was what I could find)
-chocolate syrup (optional, but awesome)
-bacon to make bacon bits (or just buy pre-made, but it's really not as good)
-sprinkle of salt and sugar for bacon bits
Step 2: Pre-heat Oven and Make Batter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. This is where an electric mixer comes in handy, but hand mixing is fine also, just make sure everything is mixed together and there are no dry spots, lumps, clumps of egg, etc.
Step 3: Fill the Cupcake Tins and Bake.
Put the cupcake papers into your trays and add about a tablespoon of batter to each one. Add a caramel candy to each cupcake then cover them with another tablespoon of batter. I ended up then putting another caramel candy in each one because the only candies I could find were a little smaller than I would have liked and I wanted there to be enough caramel flavor.
Put the tins in the oven and bake them for about 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the oven. Check if they are done by inserting a toothpick and checking if it comes out clean.
Step 4: Cook the Bacon
While your cupcakes are in the oven, it is a perfect time to make your bacon bits. To make these, I ended up using the weird, pre-cooked, not-crispy, bacon bits from the salad bar at my school because I am a poor college student, but really, if you can afford it, get the good stuff.
Cut your bacon into small pieces and put them in a pan on the stove on a pretty high heat. Even though my bacon bits were pre-cooked they were not crispy and delicious so I aimed to change that. Using a spatula or fork or something, keep your bacon bits from sticking to the pan and burning by pushing them around and keeping them moving. I didn't grease the pan or anything because the grease from the bacon did a pretty good job of that. Keep doing that until it is golden brown and crispy. I added a few pinches of salt and sugar to the bacon as it was cooking. Taste test your bacon bits and make sure they are crispy and delicious as bacon should be.
Once the bacon bits are done, lay them in a thin layer on several paper towels to absorb some of the grease. You might want to change out the paper towels a few times to keep the bacon bits from getting soggy before it's time to put them on the cupcakes.
Step 5: Finishing Touches
To make these cupcakes extra gooey (like the caramels weren't enough, haha), I used the back of a fork to make holes in them and then poured in chocolate syrup. The syrup will be absorbed a bit into the cake and it's just awesome.
I then frosted the cupcakes with chocolate frosting (which covers the hole left from the fork for the chocolate syrup) and added the bacon bits on top.
They were a hit with my friends!