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Friday, November 12, 2010

Cupcake Camp - fit the Second, Chocolate Afterburn

As promised, we're moving on to the second major project of our Cupcake Camp Quarto . . .  
The Lowcountry Locavore Legend.

Mmmmmmmm . . . . Baaaaaaaconnnnn!!  Photo courtesy Eugene Mah.
Let's start with the Bacon, shall we?

Candied Bacon

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with foil; insert a rack and coat thoroughly with Pam.

Lay out one pound of thick cut Bacon in a single layer, and bake until bubbly, about 30 minutes.


1 c.      Brown Sugar
1 tsp.    Cayenne Pepper
1/2 tsp   ground Cinnamon

Spread out in a pan.

Remove the bacon from the oven to the pan of sugar, and sprinkle, pat & smoosh until the bacon is thoroughly coated.  The Bacon will be hot! (That's for the lawyers.  I'm assuming the rest of you are smarter than that.)

Spread out the bacon once again on the rack, and return to the oven for another 10-15 minutes, until the sugar is melted and bubbly.

Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before eating.  A good sharp metal spatula is a boon in removing the bacon from the rack.

Cajeta (Goats' Milk Dulce de Leche)

This recipe can be cut in half - but why would you?

A full recipe will do about 5 dozen cupcakes, but it's just as good on ice cream.  Or a spoon.  Or your fingers.  Possibly your significant other.  But I digress.

You will need . . . 

1/2 gallon of Goat Milk (you can use cow milk, or antelope)
(Yes, use whole milk.  Look at the next ingredient, for God's sake...)
8 cups Sugar
1 Vanilla Bean, split, or 2 tsp. Vanilla Extract
2 tsp. Baking Soda

huh?  Baking Soda?

Yeah, Baking Soda.  This helps to lower the pH of your mixture, for two important reasons:

1. It keeps the milk proteins from clumping up, and making Dulce de Lumpy

2. It encourages Maillard Reactions, browning the sauce and creating thousands of complex flavor compounds.

Throw everything in a slow cooker on High, and cook Uncovered for about 10 hours, stirring occasionally.  From personal experience: tell everybody in the house not to cover it, or they inevitably will.

When it gets nicely golden brown and starts to thicken up, let it cool off and store in the fridge (it will keep for quite some time).
Now we're gonna need something to put this all on  . . .

Spicy Chocolate Cupcakes

The base for this one is from Cook's Illustrated.  In its slightly peppier incarnation, it plays out like this:
  • 3 oz. finely chopped Bittersweet Chocolate
  • 1/3 c. Cocoa
  • 3/4 c. strong hot Coffee
  • 3/4 c. Bread Flour
  • 3/4 c. Sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 3 oz. Olive Oil
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 2 tsp. White Vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • 1 mashed Scotch Bonnet Pepper (or 1/4 tsp. Cayenne)
  • 1/2 tsp. ground Cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 325.  Ready a cupcake pan with papers or grease & flour.

Remove seeds, ribs & stem from the pepper (careful!  Use gloves and avoid your eyes!).  Mince fine, place in a bowl and microwave (covered) for 30 seconds.  Mash well with a fork.

Add the chocolate and cocoa to the bowl, pour coffee over the whole mess, and whisk until smooth. Put it in the refrigerator to cool.

Whisk flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon and baking soda together in another bowl.

Whisk oil, eggs, vanilla, and vinegar into the cooled chocolate mixture until it's smooth.  Add the flour mixture and whisk until  smooth.

Divide batter into cups.

Bake until the cupcakes are set and springy, about 15-20 minutes.

Let cool, and assemble with Cajeta, Candied Bacon, chopped Pecans, and optional Benne Wafers.

I don't know about y'all, but I'm exhausted.

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