Last weekend, we got together with our friends in Seattle for a Friendsgiving extravaganza. Since we won’t be making it back to Texas for the holiday like the rest of our friends (sob), this was our big celebration. There was much excitement in the air, as it was not only our first Thanksgiving without either of our families, but it was my first time organizing an event so large, and let me tell you. It was stressful (though it all paid off in the end, of course)! I picked a bunch of recipes for everyone to choose from, and after much back and fourth through email the week prior, recipes were decided upon and the ingrediants obtained! We went shopping the night before for everything, and set to work on anything that could be made BEFORE Saturday. Due to logistics, all the preparation occured at our apartment.
Everything was going just fine, for the most part. No one had a pot large enough to brine the turkey in, so we ended up improvising by brining it in the foil pan we planned on cooking it in. I still required use of the sink, so we set the turkey up on top of the stove to brine. However, the turkey had still been pretty frozen when we began this task. “I don’t know if it will be a problem or not, but you may want to be careful about the brine overflowing if you leave it there overnight, since there would be more water in it from the ice melting off the turkey,” our friend Yiyi warned us. Per her advice, I then planned in my mind to move the turkey to the sink once I finished my business there. After helping prepare the brine, out friends left, and I was left to cook one of the side dishes, as well as the cupcakes, before I could even dream of sleeping. I finished my tasks around 1:00 A.M. and needless to say, I was absolutely exhausted. By the time I finished up a few other tasks and got ready for bed, it was 2 A.M. Not fun. Exhausted, we went straight to sleep, forgetting about the turkey up on the stove…
I awoke at 7:00 to turn over; I usually wake up many times during the night, so it was nothing knew. But, when I readjusted and settled back down, I couldn’t fall back asleep. There was a faint noise off in the distance, masked largely behind the whirls of the wind from the fan we had on high. After a few minutes spend in this hazy limbo, my conscious mind kicked in and I immediately recognized the sound – dripping. I shot out of bed and rushed to the kitchen, where my absolute, disastrously worst fears were confirmed – I had never moved the turkey to the sink, and the brine had indeed overflowed upon the stove top and was creeping into every space and crevice it could find to cruelly seep into. I stood staring in shock for a few minutes, eyes half-opened and crusty. I tried to move the turkey container to the sink by myself and, after the first failed attempt and me making an even LARGER mess across the kitchen floor, managed to get it over there, spilling some drops on my nice owl rug in front of the sink along the way. Yeah… it was not fun.
Even though our stove is electric, it LOOKS exactly like a gas stove. It has the raised, coiled burners, with a hole underneath them that leads to a kind of… cave? If that makes sense? Regardless, it is NOT a flat top – no, of course not, that would be too easy and make my life too good. In an effort to be conservative and environmentally friendly, I tried first to sop up the mess with the dish towels. However, I found upon further investigation that the whole inside cave was flooded, and there was absolutely no way re-using wet towels would clean it. I resorted to the paper towels, which – thank God for Bounty! – worked much better; I had to lift up each burner and slyly work my hand around the very limited space it fit to get all of the liquid. All on 5 hours of sleep, and while my husband slept soundly away. It was miserable.
I considered just staying awake, but for some reason decided to go back to sleep. Because I was exhausted after that, we actually didn’t wake up until 11 A.M. – later than I’d needed in order to make the icing and ice the cupcakes. So we ended up making it over to Ravi’s an hour later than expected, but from there on out, the day was MUCH better! I made the icing and iced the cupcakes, and lucky for me, this icing was one that hardened! So transporting was a BREEZE, because I didn’t have to worry about it being messy or getting on anything.
When we got to Ravi’s, I started making the potatoes, while everyone else started on the stuffing. When those were all done, we baked the turkey, and voila! A BEAUTIFUL and delicious and way-too-filling Thanksgiving feast was born! Oh, and Yiyi helped teach me how to better use my camera, so that was super fun too! Now to just not forget everything she said and keep practicing…
I DO plan on posting and discussing ALL the recipes we used, but as backwards as it seems, I will begin with the recipe for dessert (dessert is, after all, the best portion of any meal): the Maple-Bacon Cupcakes.
Bacon. On cupcakes.
No, I’m not crazy.
This recipe has garnered so much attention from everyone. “WHAT?!? Bacon…. on cupcakes? Uuuuh… come again?” people say, “WHY?!?” I know it seems counterintuitive at first, but really, it is not all that odd.
Think about it.
You make breakfast, or, better yet, go to iHop. Your plates arrive and everything is precisely placed – eggs on one side, hash browns on the other, and sausage and bacon strips nicely framing them around the edges. Then the pancakes are on another plate entirely, in which you feel free to drown them in delicious maple syrup fearlessly, since they won’t be touching your eggs any time soon. But just TRY and tell me that you’ve NEVER dipped your bacon in the syrupy remains. Or that you’ve never even at least taken a few bites of mapley pancakes and then taken a bite of bacon. You’ve probably done this many times. Breakfast would not be served with such an array of flavors and textures if they did not go well together.
And that is precisely what these cupcakes are. They tasted EXACTLY like eating pancakes doused in sweet syrup mixed with salty, savory bacon. The cake for the recipe is a straight-up butter cake, and frosting is maple flavored. Then you just cook your strips of bacon and put them on top! YUM. There also many famous doughnut shops that sell donuts with the same combination, so it’s even LESS foreign of a treat than everyone seems to think at first glance! Gordough’s, in Austin, and Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland, both make a donuts topped with maple glaze and strips of bacon. I can’t speak for Voodoo, but Gordough’s is phenomenal and everyone should eat that donut at least once in their life! ;D
But anyway… the cupcakes…
Maple Bacon Cupcakes
(adapted from Southern Living Magazine)
What you need for the butter cake:
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Paper baking cups
- Vegetable cooking spray
What you need for the maple frosting:
- 1 cup butter
- 1 (16-oz.) package dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup evaporated milk
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons maple flavoring
- 12 slices of cooked bacon, broken into chunks
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat butter and sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; add to butter mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla.
2. Place paper baking cups in 2 (12-cup) muffin pans, and coat with cooking spray; spoon batter into cups, filling two-thirds full. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks, and cool completely.
3. To prepare frosting, melt butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Stir in evaporated milk, baking soda, and light corn syrup; bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, and let cool. Transfer caramel mixture to a large bowl. Gradually add powdered sugar to caramel mixture; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Stir in maple flavoring. Beat at high speed 2 minutes or until creamy. Icing firms up quickly, so use immediately. Makes… way more than is required for these cupcakes, so be as liberal as you wish when frosting.
4. Frost each cupcake with Maple Frosting. Top each with pieces of bacon.
I was initially surprised by the fact that it called for maple flavoring instead of actual syrup, but it was definitely best. I’ve seen some other maple bacon cupcake recipes out there that have called for syrup – in the amount of 1 cup! What?!? No thank you. I preferred the flavoring because 1 – a little bit goes a long way and 2 – it cuts down on calories (especially in what I imagine are probably quite high-calorie cupcakes to begin with…). And also, we used center-cut bacon, which made for thicker strips. I waited as close to serving time as possible to cook the bacon and garnish the cupcakes, so that the bacon would be nice and warm. Our friends loved them! They were the perfect end to our lovely holiday dinner, and I’m so glad we chose them.
We stored the leftovers in a container with a lid, and heated them in the microwave until the bacon was hot again before we ate them. That method worked FABULOUSLY, so don’t worry about making too many of them – they store and re-heat VERY well (because the frosting doesn’t melt but in fact, softens to the perfect consistency).