Saturday, March 08, 2014

Dark Chocolate Nightcap Cakes with Salted Caramel Bacon Bark

Something kind of epic just happened….or at least epic according to my standards.   

I was just interviewed for a feature story about my blog that will be published in the Green Bay Press Gazette!  (Whhhaaaaaat??? Still pinching myself!!!)

You'll be able to see these bad boys in the article...

When I started this blog about four years ago, I was living in a small little house with two college roommates.  I hardly had any of my own kitchen equipment and what I did own certainly wasn't high quality.  It was the pre-Pinterest era and I had a cheap point & shoot camera.  However, I started to really enjoy cooking and I wanted to use the blog as a creative outlet for myself to post photos and recipes.  I honestly didn't know if anyone would read my blog. 

Now, four years later, a lot has changed.  My husband and I own our own home with wonderful dishes and kitchen equipment we've received from family, friends, and that I've won from blogging competitions.  Pinterest is alive and kicking and has opened the home cook’s eyes to the world of food blogging.  I own a nice DSLR camera instead of a point & shoot…and, perhaps most shockingly, some people actually read my blog.  I am humbled and grateful for all of those things.   

I was so honored to be asked to do an interview and make a recipe to be featured in the newspaper.  I need to give a special shout out to some people that helped make this happen because I couldn't have done it without them - Nicole Virant, Steve Graap, Amber Paluch, Dan Higgins, and of course my husband Ryan…thanks for all your support. J  Ok, now that I’ve given my Oscar speech…let’s move on to the good stuff.

These “dark chocolate nightcap cakes” are named for the rich cocoa, strong brewed coffee and smooth bourbon flavors they incorporate.  The fluffy chocolate bourbon buttercream that adorns them along with the salted caramel bacon bark make these cupcakes absolutely to die for.  If these don’t make your mouth may need to seek medical attention.

The bark adds a delightful touch to these cupcakes with its homemade salted caramel and marshmallow filling sandwiched between two layers of dark chocolate then sprinkled with crisp bacon.  You could eat this stuff for breakfast…I wouldn't judge. 


Dark Chocolate Nightcap Cakes with Salted Caramel Bacon Bark
Makes 20-24 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder (I use the Saco brand which is a special blend of natural & Dutched cocoa)
2 cups brown sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
½ cup strong brewed coffee (I used espresso ground coffee and brewed it in a moka pot)
½ cup Bulleit Bourbon (or your favorite brand)
½ cup maple yogurt (or plain)
½ cup almond milk
½ tsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup light extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare muffin tin with cupcake liners. Set aside.

In a large bowl, sift together all dry ingredients. Set aside.  In a medium bowl, stir together wet ingredients.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, and whisk until just combined and mostly smooth. (Don't over mix)

Use a ¼ measuring cup to scoop batter into cupcake liners, filling about 3/4 of the way full.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and cupcakes spring back when lightly touched.

Let cool completely before frosting.

Chocolate-Bourbon Buttercream
2 sticks butter, softened
1 tablespoon Bulleit {or your favorite} Bourbon
4-5 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips, melted and cooled
4-5 tablespoons heavy cream

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat  butter and whiskey with the paddle attachment until light and creamy. Slowly add confectioners' sugar one cup at a time until fully incorporated, but not too dry. Beat in melted chocolate.

Add cream or milk one tablespoon at a time until frosting reaches desired consistency.

Fill a piping bag fitted with desired tip with frosting, and decorate cupcakes.  Top with a slice of salted caramel bacon bark (below).

Salted Caramel Bacon Bark
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips
2 cups mini-marshmallows
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon bourbon
1 cup caramel sauce (see recipe below)
2 strips of crisp bacon

Prepare an 8x8 inch pan by lining with parchment or foil sprayed thoroughly with non-stick cooking spray.{Create flaps that hang over edges for easy removal.}  Set aside.

In a medium microwave-safe bowl, heat dark chocolate chips in 30 second intervals until melted and smooth, stirring between each interval (be careful not to burn).

Pour about half of melted chocolate into prepared pan and smooth evenly with a silicone spatula. Place in freezer to harden, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, place marshmallows and butter in a microwave-safe bowl and heat on high for about 40 seconds.  Stir and return to microwave for about another 45 seconds. Stir until smooth and elastic.

Pour onto set chocolate layer working quickly to smooth evenly with silicone spatula.  This can be a sticky mess.  If it isn’t spreading well, you may need to reheat the marshmallow a little more.  Return pan to freezer and freeze for another 15 minutes.

Meanwhile make caramel sauce using recipe below. Let cool for about 10 minutes.  Pour over marshmallow layer and spread evenly.  Return to freezer for 15 more minutes.

Reheat remaining chocolate until warm and smooth and pour over caramel layer. Smooth evenly and, while still wet, sprinkle with crumbled bacon. Pat bacon crumbles down lightly so that they stick to chocolate.

Freeze for a final 15-30 minutes or until completely set.

When ready to cut, remove bark by gently pulling on foil flaps, and then carefully peel foil from hardened chocolate. Cut into pieces with a sharp knife.

{Keep refrigerated or in freezer until using.  Only take out and put on top of cupcakes if you are serving them immediately, otherwise keep frozen.  The caramel will be soft and gooey but that’s ok – it will melt in your mouth anyway when you eat it!)

Salted Caramel
Makes 1 cup

1 cup natural cane sugar
6 Tablespoons salted butter, cut up into 6 pieces
1 Tbsp. bourbon
½ cup heavy cream
¼ teaspoon salt

Heat sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a silicone spatula.
Sugar will form clumps and eventually melt into a thick brown, amber-colored liquid as you continue to stir. Be careful not to burn it. 

Once sugar is completely melted, immediately add the butter. Be careful in this step because the caramel will bubble rapidly when the butter is added.

Stir the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted, about 2-3 minutes.  Add the bourbon and stir.
Very slowly, drizzle in 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Since the heavy cream is colder than the caramel, the mixture will rapidly bubble and/or splatter when added.

Allow the mixture to boil for 1 minute. It will rise in the pan as it boils.

Remove from heat and stir in 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Allow to cool down before using.

Cupcakes & Bark recipes adapted from The Kitchen Prep 
Salted Caramel recipe adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction 

1 comment:

Alicia Smith Osland said...

Congratulations!! These look so amazing! Too bad bourbon is $50 a bottle here and oh yeah, I'm pregnant and will have to wait for a nightcap ;) Enjoy them for me.