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By Anthony Salemme, chef
Turn up Dessert for Thanksgiving with these decadent cupcakes. They can be made the day before and just remove from the refrigerator while you’re eating dinner and top with cooked bacon slices.
Maple Caramel Sauce
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup maple syrup
6 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into pieces
1/2 cup heavy cream, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
1 pound Maple Bacon, 12 slices sprinkled with brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter for pecans + 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter for cupcakes, softened
1/2 cup broken pecans, chopped
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup salted caramel sauce, room temperature
1-2 teaspoons heavy whipping cream
Maple Salted Caramel Sauce
Heat maple syrup and sugar over medium-high heat in a 1 1/2 quart heavy saucepan. When syrup and sugar start to melt, start whisking. It will clump up but keep whisking. It will continue to melt. Keep heating until it’s dark amber.Carefully whisk in the butter, whisking until melted. The caramel may clump at the sides. Remove pan from heat and carefully pour in the heavy cream. Whisk until cream is incorporated and caramel is smooth. Whisk in salt.Let sauce cool for about 10 minutes in the pan, then pour into a pint mason jar and cool to room temperature. Yield: about 1 1/2 cups
Heat oven to 350°F
Cook Maple Bacon on a wire rack over a cookie sheet until crisp. Chop 6 pieces very fine to mix into the cake batter. Cut the remaining 6 pieces in thirds for garnish.Cut 1 tablespoon butter into small pieces; add to pecans in oven-proof dish. Bake, stirring after butter melts, 5 to 7 minutes, or until pecans are nicely toasted and butter is absorbed. Let cool.
Line muffin tin with 12 paper liners. Whisk flour; lightly spoon and level to measure, then sift twice into medium bowl with baking powder and soda.With a mixer combine sugar, salt and 1 stick butter. Beat at medium speed 5 minutes, till light and fluffy, scraping sides and bottom of bowl as needed.Add eggs, one at a time, adding vanilla with last egg and beating till yellow disappears after each addition.Using lowest speed of mixer, add flour mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour and adding nuts and bacon bits with last addition of flour.Stir batter with spatula, briefly, to be sure everything is mixed well. Fill muffin cups with about 1/4 cup batter. Bake 15-17 minutes or till a toothpick inserted near center returns with just a few crumbs. Cool on wire rack completely before frosting.Caramel Frosting
In medium bowl, beat butter till light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape bottom and sides of bowl; gradually add sugar and beat till smooth and creamy.Add salted caramel sauce and cream on low speed until incorporated. Increase speed gradually to high and beat until frosting is light and smooth, about 2 minutes.
Refrigerate frosting at least 1/2 hour, or longer.
Pipe frosting onto cupcakes and garnish with reserved bacon slices (cut up into thirds)
Sprinkle with extra sea salt before serving.
Anthony loves to cook and share recipes. You can follow him on Instagram at – @mealpvd and online at www.anthonysalemme.com