Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Springtime And Strawberries

It's the first day of spring!! And it's supposed to snow tonight. Stupid weather.
However, I really wanted to make "springy" cupcakes this week, especially since I haven't made any in like three weeks.
Boyfriend wanted strawberry-rhubarb pie. I don't like pie that much; I'm much more of a cake person. And I didn't feel like making mini-pies like I did for him for Valentines Day. I wanted what I made to be pretty. You can't make a pie pretty. It's pie.
So I compromised and started searching for Strawberry-Rhubarb Cupcakes. A lot of them were complicated. I don't have time for complicated; I have too much homework for complicated. A lot of them were vanilla with strawberry-rhubarb filling. I don't like making filling cupcakes unless they'll be eaten quickly. Cupcakes sit around here too long for that. I wanted the flavor to be the cupcake.
Good ol' Betty Crocker to the rescue! The recipe I used was from the Betty Crocker website (here).

Of course, I made a few adjustments.Mostly because I couldn't find fresh or frozen rhubarb. None. No where. Zero Zip Zilch. So I used a combination of fresh, finely chopped strawberries and some strawberry-rhubarb preserves. Also, I used brown sugar instead of white, and I used less since my strawberry/perserves mixture was pretty sweet. And I added some pink food dye, otherwise I would have grey cupcakes (ew). And I did not use their recipe for frosting.

Strawberry Rhubarb Cupcakes
Makes 12

  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, finely chopped
  • 1 cup strawberry/rhubarb preserves (or fresh or frozen rhubarb, finely chopped)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon butter  
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1/3 C. brown sugar
  • 1 egg 
  • Pink food dye
  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, cook strawberries, preserves (or rhubarb), 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon flour and 1 tablespoon butter. Stir frequently until the mixture comes to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; transfer to small bowl. Cover and refrigerate about 1 hour or until chilled. (I stuck mine in the freezer in 5 minutes intervals since I was too impatient to wait an hour). Reserve 2-3 tablespoons of the cooked & chilled strawberry mixture for frosting. 
  2. Heat oven to 350°F. Line your cupcake tin with papers. 
  3. In small bowl, stir together 1 1/2 cups flour, the baking powder and salt; set aside.
  4. In another small bowl, stir together the majority of the strawberry mixture, 1/3 cup buttermilk and the vanilla. I recommend adding the food dye here in order for a uniform color.
  5. In large bowl, beat 1/2 cup room temperature butter and 1/2 cup brown sugar about 3 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add egg; beat until blended. Add half the flour mixture then half of the strawberry mixture, beating well after each addition. Repeat with remaining flour and strawberry mixtures (this is where I added the food dye, and got more of a streaky effect, since the batter is super thick). Spoon batter into the cupcake pan. 
  6. Bake 20 to 22 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan to cooling rack.
Frosting Ingredients:
  • 1/2 C. room temperature butter
  • 1-2 C. powdered sugar
  • 2-3 Tbsp. Strawberry/preserves mixture. 
  • Pink Food Dye
  1. In a medium bowl, butter until light and fluffy. 
  2. Slowly add powdered sugar. I add about 1/3 cup at a time, beating after each addition in order to prevent powdered sugar flying everywhere. Add up to a cup, and then add 1 Tbsp of strawberry/preserves mixture. Beat to incorporate.
  3. Repeat this until you have reached your desired consistency and sweetness. Add enough food dye to reach your desired color.*
  4. Spread or pipe onto completely cooled cupcakes. 
 *I made the flower pattern on the cupcakes and then added some more dye to the remaining frosting in order to make the color for the outline & middle. Honestly, I wish I had a picture before I outlined them 'cause I liked it better without the outline. Plus, the pieces of strawberry & rhubarb kept getting stuck in the little piping tip which was a pain in the butt. For my first attempt at a flower though, I'm pretty proud. =)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


Last weekend my boyfriend and I were invited to a get-together at his best friend's house. When asked what we could bring, bacon cupcakes were requested. Although it was not a serious request, I had to make it happen. Around Christmas, I had made "Apple Bacon Cheddar" cupcakes, from the Cupcake Project, for my brother. He & his friends loved them; I wasn't a huge fan since I substituted liquid smoke instead of mesquite flour and it had a weird after-taste. Since I didn't love that recipe, I spent days searching for a different bacon cupcake recipe. I found the "Maple Bacon Cupcakes" from Vanilla Garlic, which seemed to have the most positive reviews out of all the bacon cupcake recipes I had found.

I did make some tweaks to the recipe. First, I decided to double the recipe. Second, my boyfriend does not have self-rising flour and we weren't about to buy a bunch of it for one batch of cupcakes. So we used all-purpose. Third, (since AP doesn't have baking powder in it) we reversed the baking powder and baking soda measurements of the recipe. Fourth, I doubled the amount of solidified bacon grease and decreased the amount of butter by 1 TBSP. Fifth, I didn't measure the amount of bacon we put in; boyfriend probably cooked 8-10 slices of slab bacon which certainly made more than the recipe called for. Sixth, while cooking the bacon we added maple syrup and brown sugar to the pan to give it some extra flavor. Seventh, I left boyfriend in charge of measuring the milk so we used a bit more than the recipe called for. Eighth, we did not use the frosting recipe that was provided with the cupcake recipe. Mostly because we didn't have time to make that.

These cupcakes were awesome. Mind-blowingly awesome. Moist, sweet, not too crumbly, and perfectly hinting at salty. The glaze was perfect--not too sweet, not too sticky. The pieces of bacon were like "chocolate-chips of the bacon world". The only way we were told they could be better was if they had more bacon. Side note: despite what boyfriend believed, people didn't seem to enjoy being told there is bacon grease in the cupcakes. I mean, I know they're delicious and it still sounds gross. I advise against telling people that tidbit of information, but it's really up to you.

Maple Bacon Cupcakes
Makes 18

8 tablespoons butter, room temperature
2 tablespoon solidified bacon grease, room temperature
2 eggs  
10 tbsp. brown sugar (technically 5/8 cup; I did a rounded ½ cup)
1 C. Grade B maple syrup (I used half real maple syrup, half pancake syrup)
2.5 cup AP flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
2 shakes from salt shaker
½ C.  plus two tablespoons whole milk (use whole milk; not reduced fat or skim. Buttermilk would probably work. You need the fat for the cake to be delicious).

½+ C. minced bacon, cooked in brown sugar & maple syrup until super crispy; about 8-10 (or more) thick slices. Mince before or after cooking, doesn't matter. Pieces should be chocolate chip sized.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake tins with beautiful, flowery papers your boyfriend picked out.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and bacon grease until light & creamy. Do not lick your fingers after touching the bacon grease. It’s awful. Nasty. Disgusting. Tastes nothing like the deliciousness that is bacon.

Add brown sugar and syrups; beat until totally combined and as fluffy as possible.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating between each addition.

In separate medium-sized bowl, mix flour, soda, powder, and salt. Sift if you want; I don’t.

Alternately add dry ingredients and milk into the butter/grease/sugar mixture, ending with dry ingredients. Beat between additions, until incorporated.

Fold in bacon. Mix in some extra syrup, if you want; we did.

Be alarmed that the batter is like cookie dough; do NOT add more liquid, even though you want to.

Taste the deliciousness.

Scoop into cupcake tins; my general rule is two heaping spoons (like you’d use to eat cereal) for one cupcake.

Bake for 18-22 minutes. 20 minutes was perfect for us; your oven may be different.

Let cool.
Frost, ice, glaze, or let boyfriend's mom devour two before any topping is on them. Whichever you want.

 Due to time constraints, I was unable to take a picture with the glaze on them. However, the glaze was a murky brown and hid the wonderful pieces of bacon peeking through.

Maple Glaze
Powdered Sugar
Maple Syrup
Maple Extract

Unfortunately, while making the glaze, I measured nothing. Mostly because we were making it at the time which we should have been at boyfriend's friend's house. Maybe ½ cup of powdered sugar, mixed with 2 teaspoons of extract, two tablespoons of syrup, and enough water to make it thin enough to be glaze-y. Add more or less until you reach your desired consistency, sweetness, and maple-iness. I really wish I measured everything 'cause it was absolutely delicious.