Bacon. Everyone loves bacon. Bacon and peanut butter? That’s an even easier sell. Bacon, peanut butter, AND chocolate? Drop the mic’. You win baking.
To say that my sweet friend Courtney loves bacon would be an understatement. A big one. I mean, the first time I met the girl she orchestrated a pit stop for the stuff. We were at a farm and vineyard last October for a very “basic” fall day of pumpkin picking and wine tasting. After we had our fill of flights and cheese and were leaving to head back to DC, Courtney piped up and insisted that we swing by the farm’s little general store and gift shop on the way out. They had some high quality, farm-grown bacon and this Georgia native wasn’t about to leave the premises without it. Priorities. When we pulled up, we both jumped out and shamelessly headed into the store. I bee-lined it for their homemade cookies (duh); Court made a run for the bacon. Girl after my own heart. All good friendships are founded on food, right?
When I came across this recipe months ago, I knew I had to file it away for Court’s birthday. Not only does it feature some pretty show-stopping bacon, but this flavor combination of brown sugar, banana, peanut butter, bacon and bourbon-infused chocolate just screams “fall.” With football season in full swing and the weather cooling down slightly, everyone is pretty pumped for another round of all things autumn, making this a perfect and timely creation for a bacon-loving birthday girl!
These cupcakes start with a moist brown sugar and banana cake, with tons of ripe bananas mashed right in. I was a little worried that the banana flavor would be overpowering, but it was actually relatively subtle and offered just the right amount of balance and moisture. Plus with all the brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg mixed in, it really makes your kitchen smell like fall. The batter comes out thick and fluffy, and helps amp up the anticipation for these babies. The verdict? They did not disappoint. 15-18 minutes later, we had beautiful fluffy cupcakes just begging to be decorated.
Pairing perfectly with the brown sugar banana cake is this peanut butter frosting. Y’all, this stuff is amazing. The texture is so light and fluffy, which is totally unexpected for a frosting incorporating something as dense as peanut butter. It had just the perfect amounts of savory peanut butter and sweet frosting flavors, so that neither one overpowered the other. I have to admit I was a little nervous about this during the mixing process, but I’m pretty sure it was primarily because I was using my new Kitchen Aid stand mixer for the first time and was just getting used to the way it actually mixes the ingredients (and underestimated the importance of scraping down the sides of the bowl from time to time!). As I moved through the steps to prepare it, this stuff was just not coming together to achieve the texture I was hoping for. It appeared to have “broken” after the initial mixing and was anything but “smooth.” Since it didn’t seem to be too thick, I was a little confused as to how to remedy it. I pushed through, though, and tried adding milk. I added a touch and was gradually adding more when – all of a sudden – BOOM. Absolutely PERFECT, creamy, fluffy peanut butter buttercream icing appeared in the mixing bowl. I love when recipes seemingly work like magic like that. It tasted pretty magical too. I could not wait to get it on the cupcakes.
Adding the perfect finishing touches to this creation were the chocolate bourbon drizzle and fresh bacon slices. The glaze had an amazing aroma and was the perfect consistency, piping easily and actually hardening a little in place on the cupcakes (so they weren’t dripping everywhere as I transported them to the birthday dinner). And I don’t need to explain to you why the bacon was amazing, because, well… bacon. I tried a couple of different piping methods with these since I wasn’t sure which look I’d like best. Unfortunately, my preferred version didn’t make it to the make-shift photo shoot (which had to occur after the fact because I was pressed for time before the birthday party). Version #2 still does the trick, though, and, either way, they taste WAY better than they look. The birthday attendees can attest to that. These got some pretty rave reviews, especially from our super southern, bacon-loving birthday girl.
I might as well quit now, because I don’t know how I’m going to top these. Happy birthday, Courtney!
Peanut Butter Bacon Banana Cupcakes
Brown Sugar Banana Cupcakes (from How Sweet It Is):
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 pinch of nutmeg
1 large egg
3/4 cup loosely packed brown sugar (I used light brown!)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
Peanut Butter Frosting (from How Sweet It Is):
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
4 cups of powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons of milk, if needed (I needed it!)
8 slices cooked bacon, cut in half or thirds
Chocolate Bourbon Drizzle (from Kelly Bakes):
2 oz semi- or bittersweet chocolate (I used 60%)
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon corn syrup
1 1/2 teaspoons chocolate bourbon (I actually used black cherry bourbon)
1. Bake the cupcakes. Preheat the oven to 350 and line a cupcake pan with liners. Combine the flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg. Set aside. In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg, then and add brown sugar and mix until smooth. Stir in the vanilla extract. Add sour cream and melted butter and mix until a smooth batter forms. Stir in the dry ingredients, then add mashed bananas and mix until the batter comes together. The batter will be thick. Using an ice cream scoop or 1/4 cup measure, scoop batter into the liners and bake for 15-18 minutes. Let cool completely before frosting.
2. Whip up the frosting. Add the butter and peanut butter to the bowl of an electric mixer and beat until creamy. Gradually add in the powdered sugar and mix until a frosting forms, increasing the speed from low to high. Add in the vanilla extract and beat the frosting for 2 to 3 minutes on medium-high speed. If the frosting is too thick, add in milk 1 tablespoon at a time. Beat for another 1 to 2 minutes after each addition. Frost cupcakes as desired.
3. Now onto the drizzle. Chop the chocolate and add to a medium bowl. Add the heavy cream to a separate microwave-safe bowl and heat for 45 seconds, or until the cream just begins to bubble. Pour the cream over the chocolate and whisk vigorously to melt. Once it’s combined, whisk in the corn syrup and bourbon. Once fully incorporated, drizzle onto cupcakes as desired.
4. Fry up the bacon and pat dry. Break into pieces, place on frosted cupcakes, and enjoy!