Hey there, January. While the rest of Internet is sharing uber-healthy recipes like an organic gluten-free kale cupcake (apparently that’s a real thing), I’m going to throw caution into the wind and tempt you with a cupcake from the opposite end of the New Year’s resolution spectrum. This cupcake is so good my coworkers said it was better than [redacted] and that they needed a cigarette after eating one. A present to you my chocolate imperial stout cupcake with brown sugar buttercream and bacon!
If necessity is the mother of invention, then a coworker’s birthday is the mother of recipe development. It was my coworker’s birthday earlier this week and I knew I needed to bake her something good. Three of her favorite things are chocolate, beer, and bacon. So I Googled “chocolate beer bacon cupcake”. With almost 1 million results, I knew I wasn’t crazy. The first result sounded delicious, but seemed a little too complex to bake on a Monday night after Monica went to sleep.
So I decided to cheat a little. Don’t tell the food blogger police, but I used a boxed cake mix as my starting point! Hopefully I redeemed myself by using beer instead of water. A local Two Brothers Northwind Imperial Stout to be exact. And to follow the lead of these brew-friendly cupcakes, I added two teaspoons of instant espresso to add some intensity and richness to the cake batter.
As for the frosting, maple buttercream was getting to be a bit over the top. I like maple syrup on my pancakes and French toast, but I’m not a big fan of maple elsewhere. After a little more research, I decided to go with a brown sugar buttercream because brown sugar still pairs really well with bacon. Or perhaps I was inspired after drinking a Lagunitas Brown Shugga’ (which should be read in the voice of Mick Jagger). Either way, the guy at work who claims he isn’t a big frosting person asked for the recipe.
And the bacon? Another guy at work was skeptical when I pitched the initial idea. But he’s sworn off desserts, so his vote didn’t really count. Those who did enjoy a boozy bacon birthday cupcake agreed that the bacon helped balance the sweetness with it’s salty, savory goodness. Plus, the crispiness added another texture to the overall cupcake experience.
The final verdict? The birthday girl loved them! And that’s all that matters :)
- 1 box of Devil’s Food cake mix (or other moist chocolate cake mix – I used Pillsbury Moist Supreme Devil’s Food cake mix)
- Vegetable oil per the cake mix instructions
- Eggs per the cake mix instructions
- Replace the water per the cake mix instructions with a dark beer like a stout or porter (I used one cup of imperial stout)
- 2 teaspoons of instant espresso powder
- 1 and ½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- ½ cup packed brown sugar
- 2-3 cups powdered sugar
- ⅓ cup heavy cream (I used whole milk since that’s what we had in the fridge)
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- About 3 strips of bacon, cooked and chopped into small pieces
- Preheat oven to 350*.
- Prepare two cupcake pans with cupcake liners, and set aside.
- Prepare the cupcake batter following the instructions on the box.
- Fill each cupcake well about ⅔ full.
- Bake 18-22 minutes, or until just firm to the touch or a cake-tester comes out clean.
- Remove from oven and allow to cool.
- While your cupcakes are baking and cooling, start making your frosting.
- Beat the butter and brown sugar in a mixer with the whisk attachment until soft and fluffy.
- Add powdered sugar (1 cup at a time), salt, and heavy cream.
- Beat on the lowest speed until just incorporated.
- Add vanilla, and beat on high until light and fluffy.
- Add additional powdered sugar or cream until desired consistency is met.
- Frost liberally and garnish with chopped up pieces of fried bacon :)