Monday, June 25, 2012

Beer, Bacon and Cupcakes

I have a strange fascination with trying to put my favorite flavors into a cupcake:

I've made a Honey-Almond Cupcake just because I loved the scent of a Honey Almond Latte at work.

I've combined jalapeno with lime in a delicious but not too savory cake...

Rich milk Chocolate with Fresh Strawberry Buttercream (and jam center)...

Spice cake with Apple filling and Cinnamon Buttercream...

I just created my ultimate combination though:  Guinness and Bacon. Oh, and Brown Sugar Swiss Meringue Buttercream. 
Guinness Spice Cakes with Brown Sugar Buttercream and Candied Bacon

I think most people have heard of a chocolate stout cake. I love chocolate, but I wanted a cake that didn't hide the wonderful taste of Guinness. Guinness is always described as having chocolate-y or coffee-y flavors. I'm not paid for my opinion, but I have always tasted a sweetness and rich, vanilla notes in a Guinness. I thought it would go perfect with spice cake. 

Oh, boy, did it ever!! 

These cakes have all the great flavors of the best winter cake paired with the light, creaminess of a pint of Guinness, complete with a mild yeast-like bitterness on the back of the tongue. Top it with the a dark brown sugar buttercream and candied bacon, it's love at first bite.

These cakes super easy to make. So easy it's almost intimidating. The hardest part is waiting for them to cool. But don't stress that too much-- melty brown sugar, butter and bacon on a super moist spice cake... Is anything wrong with that?

Guinness Spice Cakes with Brown Sugar Buttercream and Candied Bacon
(uses a spin-off of the famous Weight Watchers Diet Soda Cake. Frosting from Martha Stewart)

For the cupcakes: (YIELD 14 CUPCAKES)
1 box spice cake mix
1 bottle or can of Guinness Draught (you need 10 fl oz, not including the head)

(this is so easy, I almost feel like I'm cheating you...)
1. Empty cake mix into a medium bowl and use a whisk or your fingers to break up any big lumps of mix.
2. Pour the Guinness into a glass measuring cup, using the side to keep the head to a minimum. Canned Guinness Draught uses a widget, so you must measure it first or you will end up with a minor explosion of Guinness in the bowl, but bottled draught can be just poured in slowly. (I just kept a sip or two for myself out of the 11.2 fl oz draught bottle)
3. Mix thoroughly, but some lumps will remain. 
4. Dish into paper lined cups and bake for about 18 minutes in a 350 F oven.
5. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

For the bacon:
2 strips of thin sliced, plain bacon
4 tablespoons of brown sugar
spices to taste (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Place a wire cooling rack on a sheet pan lined with foil. 
2. Divide the brown sugar in half and press onto one side of the bacon. Lay bacon sugar side up on wire rack.
3. Bake for 20 minutes, ignoring the burning smell of sugar, but checking for any flare-ups. If the bacon is crispy enough, pull it now. If not, let it bake for 5 minutes at a time until crispy.
4. Allow to cool completely before giving it a rough chop.

For the frosting: (YIELD 5 CUPS)
5 large egg whites 
1 2/3 cups packed dark-brown sugar 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
4 sticks (2 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature

1. Put egg whites, sugar, and salt into a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk until mixture registers 150 degrees, about 4 minutes.
2. Remove from heat and attach to stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Beat on high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form. Continue to mix on medium until the bowl is no longer warm.
3. Replace the whisk with the paddle attachment. Add butter slowly on medium-low speed.  Beat until frosting is smooth and glossy, 3 to 5 minutes. 

Buttercream can be refrigerated airtight for up to 3 days OR frozen for 6 weeks; bring to room temperature, and beat before using.

Allow a generous swirl of this frosting... it's so tasty, you're going to want extra. And trust me, that salty goodness is PERFECT with a Guinness Spice Cake and Bacon...