October 22, 2013

Night Market Challenge: Peanut Butter Bacon Cannoli Cupcakes

What happens when you're out with a fellow dessert-loving blogger and you eat a sweet treat that just doesn't deliver? You go home and remake it, but better!

Blogger buddy Alyssa of Suitcases and Sweets and I were out trolling the Food Trust's Night Market, our favorite, and by far most gluttonous, activity together. It's blocks and blocks of diverse food truck offering a wide range of unique comforts. The scene is hopping and the demand (ahem, lines) can be intense. 

We are strategic in what we select to eat. 
We divide and conquer.
We share like siblings. 
And we critique like a nightmare.

After trolling hard-core and assessing our options, we committed to the most interesting savory foods and, as stated above, tasted, indulged, commented, considered strengths and weaknesses, and carried on.

Then came time for a sweet bite. Cupcake trucks? Meh. Alyssa bakes a mean cupcake and it wouldn't have been fair. Avante garde chocolates? Sigh. Mini key-lime pies? Sold out.

My eyes settled upon a distant chalkboard. Down at the bottom was scribbled a sugary offering of interest: bacon peanut butter cannolis. Now that was new! Bacon? Peanut Butter? In a cannoli? We were mildly concerned, maybe even a little scared, but we threw inhibition into the wind.

And it didn't deliver! The flavors were muted, the peanut butter was meek, the bacon was bland... the cannoli shell delivered, but hey, there had to be a saving grace to the thing! Sad and disappointed, we vowed to recreate those crazy flavors but better. 


These cupcakes are full of bright, bold flavors -- a moist, fluffy cannoli flavored cupcake is filled with thick chocolate bacon ganache and then topped with a creamy peanut butter cream cheese frosting. 

It's a nutty flavor combination that combines the absolute best of sweet and savory. Bacon? Peanut Butter? Cream Cheese? Chocolate? Vanilla and Almond? 

All are front and center in this delightful remake of the Night Market original. I'm so glad that Alyssa and I were able to collaborate on something new and improved! And the best part about it was the lack of food truck to sell these out of... which meant we had every last crumb for ourselves (and a few lucky friends)!

Peanut Butter Cannoli Cupcakes: makes 24
For the cake:
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 cups sugar
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
4 eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup milk

For the Filling:
4 ounces semisweet chocolate morsels
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter, room temperature
3 strips crispy bacon, crumbled

For the Frosting
8 ounces cream cheese
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups powdered sugar
1 strip crispy bacon for garnish, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake trays with 24 liners. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in bowl and set aside. With an electric or standing mixer, cream the sugar and butter on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping after each addition. Add vanilla and almond extracts. On low speed, add the flour mixture and milk in alternating parts, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until smooth.

Fill each cupcake liner about 3/4 full with batter. Bake about 15 minutes or until golden and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack about 5 minutes, then remove onto the wire rack to cool completely. Meantime, make the ganache and frosting, below.

Chocolate-Bacon Ganache Filling:
Pour chocolate chips into a medium bowl. In a small pot on the stove, add the cream and butter and heat until just simmering (do not boil). Pour cream mixture over the chocolate and stir until smooth.Add the 3 strips of crumbled bacon.

Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Frosting: 
With an electric mixer beat together the butter, cream cheese, and peanut butter on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and powdered sugar and beat until smooth. Switch stand mixer to high and beat for another 2-3 minutes until fluffy.

Use an apple corer to remove the center of each cupcake, then spoon or pipe the ganache into the holes to fill. Use a piping bag to pipe the frosting onto each cupcake, then top with a small crumble of crispy bacon. Serve, or refrigerate the extras (there won't be any!).

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