Thursday, December 29, 2011

French Toast Cupcakes with Maple Frosting & Candied Bacon Sprinkles

I should have called this post “An Excuse to Eat Cupcakes for Breakfast,” because that was basically my goal. I’ve long believed that it is perfectly acceptable to eat cupcakes for breakfast, although I realize that health experts would probably disagree.

These cupcakes start with a french toast cupcake base, which is then topped with maple flavored buttercream frosting. Finally, the entire concoction is sprinkled with bacon crumbles.

Other than presenting cupcakes as acceptable breakfast food, this recipe also deserves credit for allowing bacon to be put on cupcakes. I didn’t stop at just bacon, either. I decided what this cupcake recipe really needed was candied bacon. Have you ever had candied bacon? If you can answer this question in the negative, you should rectify that situation immediately.

Candied bacon is easy in that all it involves is baking brown sugar on top of bacon. Bacon and brown sugar are basically their own food groups. (Disclaimer: Again, there’s a slight chance this view is not endorsed by most health experts.) This first time I encountered candied bacon was in this recipe for candied bacon ice cream, where the blogger actually went through a variety of sweet substances to see which one was the best for candied bacon. I call that dedication to one’s craft.

I took about 9 slices of bacon and spread them on a broiler pan. I figured this would give me an even number to crumble, plus an additional one to try myself. (Hey, quality control is important!) It turned out that I had a couple pieces left after sprinkling the cupcakes, but that problem was easily taken care of. I sprinkled light brown sugar over the bacon and used a spoon to smooth it out.

I then baked the slices according to the instructions on the bacon package.

See all that gooey brown sugar? That, my friends, is how bacon should be eaten.

Wait, we were talking about cupcakes, right? I found my recipe for the cupcakes and frosting here.

French Toast Cupcakes

• 3/4 cup butter, softened
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
• 1 teaspoon nutmeg
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 3 eggs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cream together butter and sugar. In another bowl, mix together the cake flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon. Add eggs to creamed butter, one at a time until incorporated. Alternate adding milk and flour mixture until combined. Divide batter into cupcake tins and bake for approximately 25 minutes.

Maple Buttercream Frosting

• 2 sticks butter, softened
• 2 3/4 cups powdered sugar
• 2 teaspoons heavy cream, at room temperature
• 1 teaspoon maple extract

Using a stand mixer, beat ingredients until light and fluffy.

After cupcakes have cooled, pipe buttercream onto cupcakes. Crumble bacon and sprinkle with candied bacon.

While I thought the maple frosting was delicious, I wasn’t as excited about the cupcake base. I have a feeling that a little less nutmeg and the addition of some vanilla extract probably would have helped things. All in all, this makes a great recipe if you have to take something to a breakfast or brunch.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Seared Scallops with a Red Apple Balsamic-Apple Cider Glaze

I’ve had some trouble motivating myself to cook lately. Maybe it’s a post-Thanksgiving burnout. With Christmas a week away, I supposed I’d better find a way to change that.

When I have been cooking this month, I’ve been using it as a chance to experiment with some Devo olive oils & balsamic vinegars that my mom picked up for me in Branson. She got me a nice collection, consisting of red apple balsamic, white truffle oil, champagne balsamic, chipotle olive oil, jalapeno white balsamic, and harissa olive oil. I’ve used the white truffle in Devo’s recipe for asiago & white truffle mashed potatoes. I’ve also been depleting the red apple balsamic by making simple vinaigrette with extra virgin olive oil, minced garlic, and salt & pepper. This pairs wonderfully with a salad of mixed greens and crumbled gorgonzola.

I had a recipe bookmarked for scallops in an apple cider-balsamic glaze. This seemed like the perfect experiment for my red apple balsamic, especially since I have an excess of apple cider from Thanksgiving. When you are talking about seared scallops on a bed of crisp bacon, sautéed mushrooms and baby spinach, topped with a sauce of red apple balsamic, apple cider & honey, I can think of absolutely no logical reason not to try it.

I suppose you can attribute this to laziness, but I’m not going to retype the recipe here. Instead I will direct you to She Cooks, He Cleans, where I found it in the first place. This is one that I did not alter (other than using my red apple balsamic instead of regular & not having enough baby spinach), and the blogger does a great job of writing up the instructions.

This makes a fantastic scallop dish. If I tried it again, I would consider adding some sautéed chopped apples. I’ve been intrigued by the combo of scallops and fruit ever since I tried the delicious scallops with cherries recipe from a few months back.