Grab your tuques and your warmest flannel, kids, because Canada Day is just around the corner! On July 1st, our neighbors to the north will celebrate the anniversary of the creation of modern-day Canada by throwing parties, marching in parades and launching fireworks. It’s pretty much the same thing we do on 4th of July, only colder and more polite with free healthcare.
As a proud Canada sympathizer, I thought it’d be nice to take a break from all of our Independence Day preparations to mark this tremendous occasion by baking a batch of cupcakes in celebration of my favorite Canadian exports – bacon and maple syrup.
Yes, maple bacon cupcakes have been done before. But they’ve never been done this well. These little guys might be light and fluffy but they’ll hit you with a wrecking ball of flavor. Loaded with bacon bits and pure maple syrup and topped off with literally the most amazing brown sugar buttercream frosting you’ve ever tasted, they’re pretty much the most Canadian thing you could possibly eat behind snow and Kraft Dinner.
I based these cupcakes off of this recipe by The Oprah, with a few distinctive changes. First of all, I replaced the maple extract with pure Grade B dark maple syrup. This is because I couldn’t find any maple extract at the store but also because I just really, really like pure maple syrup. Seriously, that stuff is my uisce beatha.
I also made these cupcakes a little more artery-clogging by adding some bacon grease directly into the batter. I don’t think I need to explain my reasoning here. If you don’t love bacon grease then I don’t love you.
Finally, I tossed out that boring cinnamon buttercream frosting in favor of something with a little more flair. Before this, I had only ever seen brown sugar buttercream used as a fruit dip or a frosting for snicker doodle cupcakes. I had a hunch, though, that the brown sugar flavor would also pair well with the savory sweetness of maple bacon.
Turns out I was right. This is quite literally the most amazing frosting I’ve ever made. Since you replace some powdered sugar with brown sugar, the texture of the frosting is a little gritty and soft compared to a traditional buttercream. However, the flavor can’t be matched. I didn’t even have to add vanilla and salt, it’s that good.
The finished product is a glorious amalgam of sweet and smoky flavor. It is everything I have ever known and loved about Canada manifested in a casual dessert. It is Robin Sparkles and hockey fanaticism and the smell of fresh cut pine. It is clear that I know nothing about Canada, but that’s not the point. The point is that you need to saddle up your riding beavers, pick up some bacon from the store and make these cupcakes immediately.
This recipe yields 12 standard cupcakes. The projected cook time from prep to finish is about an hour.
For the Cupcakes
½ Pound Maple Bacon
2/3 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/3 Cup Cake Flour
1 tsp. Baking Powder
Pinch of Salt
1 Stick (8 Tbsp.) Unsalted Butter (Room Temperature)
2/3 Cup Granulated Sugar
½ Cup Milk (Skim isn’t milk. Stop lying to yourself)
4 Tbsp. Pure Maple Syrup
1 Tbsp. Bacon Grease
For the Brown Sugar Buttercream
1 ½ Cups Powdered Sugar
6 Tbsp. Butter
3 Tbsp. Brown Sugar
2 Tbsp. Milk
1 tsp. Cinnamon
Heat your oven to 400° F.
Line a baking sheet or metal baking pan with foil. Coat it with some nonstick spray and lay down eight to ten strips of bacon. For crispier bacon, place a cooling rack on top of the baking sheet and lay your bacon down on that.
Cook the bacon in the oven for 12-15 minutes or until bacon is crispy and golden brown. Remove it from the oven and let it cool on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb the grease.
Turn the oven down to 350° F.
Combine flour, cake flour, salt, baking powder and sugar in a bowl. Set that bowl aside.
In a large mixing bowl, start beating the butter and eggs together on low speed. With the mixer running, alternate between slowly adding some of the dry mix and pouring in some of the milk.
When all the dry mix and milk have been added, mix on medium speed for two minutes or until batter is smooth.
Add vanilla and maple syrup and bacon grease and mix on medium speed for an additional two minutes.
Using a dicer, a knife or your bear hands (not a typo), shred half of your bacon strips into little bits. Dump those bacon bits into the batter. Set the other bacon strips aside for garnishing.
Mix again on medium speed for another minute or so.
Line a cupcake pan with baking cups. Spoon the batter into the cups. Fill each cup roughly 2/3 full with batter.
Place the cupcakes into the oven. Cook them for about 20 minutes or until you can insert and remove a toothpick cleanly from the center of each cupcake.
Remove cupcakes from the oven and place on a clean cooling rack to cool. Now it’s time to make your frosting.
Making the Frosting
Place room temperature butter, brown sugar and powdered sugar into a bowl.
Mix on low speed until all powdered sugar has been assimilated into the frosting.
Add milk and cinnamon and mix on medium speed until frosting is smooth and stiff enough to hold a peak.
If your frosting is too soft, add more powdered sugar or let it sit in the fridge for 30 minutes. If your frosting is too stiff, add more milk to soften it.
When the cupcakes are completely cool, spoon some frosting into a pastry bag and ice your cupcakes. Add sprinkles for effect.
You’ve got several options when it comes to garnishing the cupcakes with your bacon. As you can see, I used a pair of kitchen scissors to cut maple leaves out of the bacon. This was a pain in the butt and I don’t recommend it unless you really, really need to get out of somebody’s dog house. It will be easier to cut the remaining bacon into 1” wedges and add them to the top of the cupcakes like Carly Klock did with her French Toast and Bacon Cupcakes. Or you could just shred them and add some bacon sprinkles to the top of each cupcake. It’s totally up to you.
How are you guys celebrating Canada Day? With cupcakes? BBQ? Moose Racing? Send us pictures and we’ll share your holiday on the blog! Otherwise just enjoy your cupcakes like the ravenous tundra beasts that you are.
Until Next Time,
The ACS Team