This is a chocolate espresso cupcake with chocolate espresso frosting topped with candied bacon and a bit of waffle. I was inspired to make this cupcake because breakfast is by far my favorite meal, and my favorite things for breakfast are coffee, a waffle, and bacon. The finished product is delicious, and it really does taste like breakfast.
Before embarking on this cupcake making venture, please remember that when you're working with raw meat and eggs, it's important to wash hands and utensils thoroughly!
*Full disclosure: I might have made a grilled cheese in the middle of this project.
Step 1: Cupcake Ingrediants
For this cupcake, you will need:
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup warm espresso (I made mine using instant espresso powder)
3/4 cup sour cream
tablespoons veggie oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Makes: 18 Cupcakes.
Step 2: Prepare Oven and Cupcake Pans
First, heat the oven to 350 and line the cupcake pan with cupcake wrappers. I found these pretty ones on the King Arthur Flour website.
Step 3: Combine the Dry Stuff
Although many recipes ask that you sift together the dry ingredients, I find that whisking them together is sufficient for making a nicely textured cupcake. Therefore, I just combined the cocoa powder, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl with a whisk. In addition, I used the "scoop and sweep" method for measuring the flour, which means that I scoop the flour into a measuring cup with a spoon and then level off the flour with a knife. Sometimes, when you scoop the flour using the measuring cup, it packs the flour into a cup and you use more than you need, resulting in a dense product. Also note that the "scoop and sweep" method works best for cakes and cookies, but not breads.
Step 4: Now, Add the Wet Stuff!
Add eggs, warm espresso, sour cream, oil, and vanilla, and mix until smooth. For this step, I used my kitchen aid mixer, but a hand held mixer or even a wooden spoon would get the job done. Combining the dry and the wet ingredients activates the production of gluten in baked goods, which gives the baked good its structure. Mixing too much, though, produces too much gluten, making your delicate cupcakes tough.Therefore, watch what you're doing and only mix until everything is combined.
Step 5: Put It in the Cups
Now we're ready to put the batter in the cups! I generally grease my cupcake tin even if I use cupcake liners because sometimes the tops stick to the tin. This isn't necessary with these tall liners, though. The important thing when you're filling the cups is to try to make all of them even- I generally use a 1/4 cup measure and fill the cups about 2/3 full. When you're done, pop them in the oven for 20 minutes, rotating the pans at the 10 minute mark.
Step 6: Make Some Waffles!
After the cupcakes were in the oven, I used the time to clean some utensils and make some waffles. After that, I used prepared some waffles using my favorite handy dandy Belgian waffle mix and my waffle iron. You should prepare your waffle mix according to the directions on the box, and preheat your waffle iron. I over-cooked my waffles, just a little, to ensure crispyness so they stand up straight on the cupcake.
Note: I made 3 waffles, but I only used about one and a half.
Step 7: Check the Cupcakes!
Although sometimes I read that cake isn't done until a toothpick comes out clean, a better rule of thumb (in my opinion) is when only a few moist crumbs stick to the toothpick or tester. Cupcakes cook for a few minutes after they're done, so it's good to take them out a teeny bit early. Once you determine the cupcakes are done, move the cupcakes to a cooling rack.
Step 8: Make the Candied Bacon
Candied bacon is amazing, and you really can't live without it. Thankfully, it's incredibly easy to make. Preheat your oven to 350, and prepare a cookie sheet with parchment paper (don't skip it, spray will not do!) Next, take about six pieces of uncooked bacon (not precooked) and put them in a bowl with about 1/2 cup of brown sugar and cinnamon to taste. Mix it with your hands, and lay the pieces on the cookie sheet. Finally, put another piece of parchment paper on top and then another cookie sheet on top. This ensures that the bacon stays flat and doesn't crinkle up. Cook for 20 minutes in the oven. Check on them, and if they're all crispy and shiny they're done. If they're not done yet, increase the oven temp to 375 and check on them every 5-10 minutes until done. Be careful, though, as sugar burns easily in the oven. And, as always, be careful handling the candied bacon because cooked sugar will stick to your hands and burn them. Use tongs or a spatula!
Step 9: Make the Frosting
Quite honestly, I love that hard, extra sweet, fudge-like chocolate frosting that comes from bakeries. This is that frosting. It actually tastes a lot like the inside of double chocolate oreos, and I love it. This was the first time I made it, and I am seriously going to use this frosting going forward.
You will need:
1 stick of butter, melted
2/3 cup of the darkest cocoa powder you can find
3-4 cups powdered sugar
1/3 to 1/2 cup strong espresso
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Mix it all together using your kitchen aid or hand held mixture. You can experiment with the amount of sugar and espresso to taste and until the texture is easy to spread or pipe. Icing is easy to fix and mess with, so make it how you like it. Just remember that a little liquid goes a long way!
* Butter is missing from the photo, but you need it too!
Step 10: Regroup
Ok, now you should have everything you need to put it all together! Take a seat. Break up the bacon into little pieces and cut the waffles into pleasing shapes. I stick to triangles and block shapes, but you could go crazy and make zigzags or something.
You can spread the frosting onto the cupcake, or you can move it into a zip-lock bag with the tip cut off for piping like I did.
Step 11: Construct the Cupcake
Frost the cupcake in however you want. I used swirls because I think they're fun, and I like to practice my piping.
Next, I inserted toothpicks into the waffle, and placed them in the cupcake. For a final touch, I artfully placed a piece of candied bacon on top, leaning it against the waffle bit.
Gaze upon your creation!
Step 12: The Most Important Meal
Serve with the morning paper!
Final notes: Cupcakes adapted from Martha's One Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes, Frosting Recipe courtesy of ChatN'Chow blog, and Candied Bacon adapted from Alexandra Guarnaschelli's Candied Bacon.