Have you ever tried chocolate covered bacon? No? Well next time you're at a state fair allow yourself to indulge a little, (then quietly thank me). I love chocolate and bacon, not so much batter/frosting and bacon. So I thought, why not make a dark chocolate bacon ganache to fill a beer infused chocolate cupcake? And while I'm at it, add just a bit of spice to the chocolate (I love spicy chocolate). Voila, a cute cupcake recipe that is manly, too!
Beer Batter Chocolate Cupcakes:1 Box chocolate cake mix
8 ounces good beer (reserve 4 tablespoons for frosting, consume the rest)
Spicy Bacon Dark Chocolate Ganache:1 Pound cooked and crumbled Bacon (reserve 6 whole pieces for garnish)
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
1 Cup Butter
10 ounces Dark Chocolate (chopped, or morsels)
1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper (or less depending or your spice preference)
Sweet and Spicy Beer Frosting:1 log (8 ounces) Softened Cream Cheese
1 Cup Room Temperature Butter
4 Cups Confectioners Sugar
1/8 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper or more depending on your taste
Recipe yields 24 cupcakes
Preheat oven to 350 F. Begin by making the ganache, heat heavy cream until warm on low heat (not scolding), then add chocolate and butter. Mix until smooth then add crumbled bacon pieces and cayenne, stir to combine. Transfer ganache to a separate bowl or container (I used a large Pyrex measuring cup) and leave in the freezer. This is a very important step, in order for the ganache to bake in the center of the cupcake, it must be cooled and hardened. If you get too excited (like I did on the first batch) and use the ganache while it's still smooth, your filling won't sink to the center and your cupcakes will have flat and messy tops.
While the ganache is cooling, line the muffin pan. Then, make cupcake batter according to the box instructions, but using the beer as your liquid instead of oil and water. Mix with an electric mixture. Fill lined muffin pans 2/3 of the way. By this time, your ganache should be hardened. Place about a heaping 1/2 tablespoon on top of each already filled muffin.
Bake for 18-21 minutes, depending on your oven (I did 20 minutes). Let cool for 10 minutes then remove from pans onto plate to finish cooling. In the meantime make your frosting.
By the way, this is what the center looks like...
Combine room temperature butter and cream cheese with 4 cups of confectioners sugar. Hand mix with a spatula first until sugar is moderately combined. Add the cayenne and beer (or skip the beer if kids are eating this, unlike the cupcakes, this bit of alcohol won't be cooked out). Then switch to an electric mixer on high until the frosting is fluffy and evenly combined. Use right away or store in refrigerator covered with plastic wrap. I filled a sandwich bag and cut it at the tip to pipe my frosting.
Don't forget about (or eat) the bacon we reserved earlier! Cut the 6 pieces into 24 squares and place on top of frosted cupcakes for the finishing touch!