I started off today in the office exchanging messages on Facebook with a colleague who was on a bus – it was unintentionally stalker-like to see her progress as her public transport made its way to different parts of the city, and I could track her, thinking, “Oh, she must have stopped responding because she is walking up the path to the office now…”. In any case, our conversation started the day off on the right foot because it sparked laughter. And, as Robyn Hitchcock sings, “Nothing clings to you like laughter…“. Too true.
I also noted that the 24 kinds of baked goods that I brought to the office yesterday – the logistical nightmare that that was – has been reduced and fits nicely on two long tables instead of three. Progress!
Christmas 2013 spread – three full tables
The final list of stuff baked and brought along with links to recipes (where they exist – some I was making for the first time so will post in new posts in the coming days)…
CHRISTMAS M&M COOKIES (I know this links to a white chocolate macadamia cookie recipe, but I have been using it for M&M cookies for a while – prefer it to the one I used to use. Just eliminate the macadamia and white chocolate and put M&Ms in instead!)
These cupcakes got the seal of approval from those who ate them and provided feedback. Including a Canadian – and they know about maple and bacon, don’t they? 🙂
Alas, there is not much more to say about these except that apparently brown sugar cupcakes are not super sweet, so you can go heavy on the frosting.
Brown Sugar Cupcakes with Maple Frosting and Candied Bacon
(Recipe makes 12 cupcakes; I doubled it and made 24)
1 cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled (you could also use a neutral-tasting vegetable oil)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a bowl, combine dry ingredients. Set aside. Line a cupcake tin with liners.
In a large bowl, whisk brown sugar and egg until smooth. Add in vanilla and milk, again mixing until combined. Slowly pour in melted butter, continuing to whisk. Add in the flour, soda and salt, mixing with a large spoon until batter is smooth.
Using a 1/4 cup measure, add batter to liners. Bake for 16-19 minutes, or until tops are golden, and don’t Allow to cool completely.
Maple Swiss meringue buttercream frosting
4 egg whites
1 cup sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, cubed
4 to 5 tablespoons maple syrup
Mix the egg white and the sugar together and heat over a double boiler. The sugar should be completely dissolved when you remove it from heat. Pour the mixture into a large bowl (preferably the mixing bowl of a stand mixer — Swiss meringue is mixing intensive, so a stand mixer works best). Whisk on high speed until stiff but still wet peaks form. Continue to beat for about five or six minutes after these peaks form.
Switch to the paddle attachment and turn the speed to medium low. Add the butter in one or two tablespoons at a time. The mixture might start to look lumpy and curdled. Don’t worry. Keep mixing. When things start to come together, beat in the maple syrup and keep beating for another two minutes. It might take some time to get to the right texture. You will know when it comes together in a solid, fluffy, frosting-like consistency.
Turn on oven at 350F
Use thick-cut smoked bacon of your choosing. In a shallow plate, mix brown sugar and, if desired, a small amount of cinnamon. Cover both sides of bacon slices onto the plate to coat with the mixture.
Prepare a baking sheet – cover entirely with aluminum foil and put a wire rack on top. Spray the rack with non-stick spray.
Put the sugared bacon onto the baking sheet and bake for about 20-30 minutes (until sugar is syrupy in consistency and bacon has the right crispness).
Remove from oven, immediately remove bacon from rack and cool completely before breaking up/chopping. Once chopped, use to sprinkle on top of the cupcakes.