Let’s face it: guys get the short end of the stick on Valentine’s Day. For weeks leading up to February 14th, every commercial, magazine ad, and billboard is not so subtly reminding men: make this year special, show her how much you care… ’bout time to propose, isn’t it??? And if a guy forgets the holiday all together (*gasp*) he had better watch out!
Meanwhile I can’t think of a Valentine’s commercial that lays the same lovey dovey guilt trip on women… What’s the deal? We’re supposed to just sit around, expecting to be showered with gifts, while doing nothing in return? Love is a two way street people! Do something special for your guy this year.
And by something special, I mean something with beer and bacon. Mancakes.
Valentine’s Day has always been a fairly quiet holiday for the hubby and me. No extravagant gift exchanges, limos, or pricey restaurants. This probably stems from the fact that we started dating in high school (meaning we were broke). We’d exchange creative/nerdy cards/gifts, and eat a special dinner at home.
That’s pretty much still the deal to this day, and I like it that way. This year I thought I would shower him in food, glorious food. He’ll be at work for lunch, but I figured I could at least make the breakfast, dinner, and dessert of his dreams. I won’t tell you about the other two just yet (he’s gotta have some kind of surprise), but I can tell you all about this dessert.
I wanted to make him a dessert that celebrated man. You know, just manly guys doing manly things. (Sorry, I just had to.)
So I asked myself: what are the manliest food elements in existence? Bacon and beer, obviously. But wait, I’m trying to think about dessert here… so let’s throw in some maple syrup to tie it all together.
These mancakes are a little more involved than your average cupcake, but hey, it’s all in the name of love! They’re super moist and about as decadent as it gets.
Pack your bags people – these little cakes are gonna send you on a train straight to flavortown!
Maple Stout Cupcakes with Candied Cayenne Bacon
It's extremely important to have all your ingredients at room temperature for this recipe. When measuring your beer, try to pour it slowly at an angle so it doesn't foam up too much. Wait until the foam settles before determining your measurement. Also, be sure to make your candied cayenne bacon ahead of time; it has to refrigerate for a couple hours before being used.
Maple Stout Cupcakes
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, divided, room temperature
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup stout beer, room temperature
- 1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup, divided
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 pound plain cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 pound powdered sugar (4 cups sifted)
- 10 slices candied cayenne bacon, divided, recipe follows
Candied Cayenne Bacon
- 10 slices (about a pound) thick cut bacon
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon espresso powder
- 3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Maple Stout Cupcakes
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a small pot, bring the stout to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for about a minute, and remove from the heat to cool slightly. Place cupcake liners in two standard cupcake pans. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, espresso powder and cinnamon; set aside.
- In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or a hand mixer, cream 1 1/2 sticks of butter and the sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until fully incorporated between additions. In a measuring cup, whisk together the cooled stout, sour cream, 2 tablespoons maple syrup and vanilla extract. With the mixer running, slowly pour in the stout mixture. It won't look too pretty at this point, but don't worry - it'll all come together when the flour is added.
- With the mixer on the lowest speed, slowly add the flour until fully incorporated. Scoop the batter into the prepared pans, filling them about 2/3 of the way. A standard ice cream scoop works well for this. Bake 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool for 10 minutes in the pans, then finish cooling on a rack.
- In the meantime make the frosting: Pulse 6 slices of the candied cayenne bacon in a food processor until finely chopped. Beat the cream cheese and remaining 4 tablespoons butter in a mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Sift the powdered sugar and add to the cream cheese mixture, mixing for a few minutes. Add the remaining tablespoon maple syrup and finely chopped bacon, mixing until well combined.
- When the cupcakes are completely cooled, top with the frosting. Cut each of the remaining 4 slices of bacon into 6 pieces and top each cupcake with a piece of bacon.
Candied Cayenne Bacon
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine the brown sugar, espresso powder and cayenne pepper in a small bowl. Sprinkle half the mixture over the bacon, pressing to make sure it adheres. Flip the bacon over and press on the rest of the sugar mixture.
- Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with foil. Place cooling racks in the pans, and coat them lightly with vegetable oil (this will help prevent sticking). Put the bacon on the cooling racks and bake for 30-35 minutes, until browned and crispy. Let cool, and refrigerate for an hour or two to harden. This can be made a day in advance.