When I was in grade 1, my class had a singing recital where we all dressed up as Care Bears, making our own Care Bear ears and Care Bear bellies.
When we were told to go home and find clothes to be the rest of our Care Bear costume, nothing I had worked. It was all patterned, multicoloured and inappropriate for representing Care Bear fur. I was a big Care Bear fan and was very particular about how this had to be done. I did have an all pink outfit, but most of the girls also had all pink outfits, resulting in a sea of repeat pink bears. I did not want to be just another one of many Cheer Bears.
My mom, however, had a big cozy orange sweater.
With this, I could be Friend Bear, but she wasn’t one of my favourites. I could be Tenderheart, but he felt like the MAIN Care Bear, and that was just too much responsibility.
The path was clear. Birthday Bear.
Yeah, that’s me. That’s a pretty finely painted cupcake, don’t you think? I miss those shoes.
Like most, I developed a love for cupcakes at a young age and was excited to wear one on my belly. Not to mention in my belly. So when I think of cupcakes, I think of things like Care Bears. Of pink fluffy frosting, rainbow sprinkles, and everything soft and sweet.
Not of bacon.
But I owed a friend some cupcakes, his flavour choice. And he picked bacon.
I had always been intrigued by the idea but had never done it before. Luckily I had some inspiration from another bacon recipe to pull from.
A few minor tweaks to the recipe here and there, and it easily went from Maple Caramel Pumpkin Bars with Bacon to Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Frosting and Bacon
I guess it’s not just about fluffy Care Bears and strawberry frosting anymore.
Care Bear countdown, 4.. 3.. 2.. 1!
Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Frosting and Bacon
Candied Maple Bacon
- 8 strips of maple bacon
- 4 tablespoons fine maple sugar
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 14 oz. can pumpkin puree
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 cup chopped, toasted pecans
Maple Caramel Frosting
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 2 cups packed brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup pure maple syrup
- 5 oz. cream cheese, cut into 5-6 cubes
- Fleur de sel
- Bacon: Preheat oven to 400°F. Line rimmed baking sheet with foil. Place a metal rack on foil.
- Lay bacon slices on rack. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons maple sugar evenly over bacon.
- Bake until sugar is melted, about 8 minutes. Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoon sugar over same side of bacon. Bake until bacon is deep brown and glazed, 12 to 14 minutes longer. Remove from oven. Let cool on rack and then dice.
- Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 18 cups of two 12-cup muffin tins with paper liners.
- Whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and table salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Whisk together pumpkin puree, granulated sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, egg, melted butter and vanilla in a large bowl until well blended. Stir in flour mixture and pecans.
- Using an ice cream scoop, distribute batter evenly among prepared muffin tins. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake out clean, about 20 minutes. Let cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then transfer cupcakes to a cooling rack. Let cool completely before frosting.
- Frosting: In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, melt butter. Add sugar and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, until sugar is completely dissolved, then adjust heat to medium and boil 2 minutes longer. Add maple syrup and boil, swirling the pan occasionally, until sauce is thick, smooth, and coats a spoon, 2 to 4 minutes longer.
- Pour hot caramel into a clean stand mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat at medium-high speed, scraping down sides occasionally, until sides of bowl are no longer hot to the touch and closer to room temperature and caramel is thick.
- Add cream cheese, one cube at a time, until frosting is smooth. Refrigerate frosting until it reaches a spreadable consistency, approx. 30-45 minutes.
- Assembly: Apply frosting liberally to cooled cupcakes with an offset spatula. Sprinkle frosting lightly with fleur de sel (optional). Top evenly with chopped candied bacon.
Makes approximately 18 cupcakes. If not serving within the day, keep refrigerated in an airtight conatiner.