Thursday, 16 February 2012

Chocolate. Bacon. Love.

Didn’t satisfy your sweet tooth on Valentines Day?  Instead of plunging your sorrows and investments into the post-holiday chocolate sales, you should seek out one of these indulgent brews.

Chocolate stout has become a very popular style of beer in the last few years.  With its signature purple label, Young’s Double Chocolate Stout is probably the most popular variety.  Numerous other breweries have added this style to their repertoire, including Edmonton’s own Amber’s Brewing Company.  “Aphrodisiaque” from Dieu du Ciel is unique in its addition of fair trade cocoa and vanilla, and is a worthwhile investment for a special evening.  Especially if you want to get a certain message across.

While some varieties are brewed with actual cocoa to the mash, most of the flavour comes from the addition of chocolate malt.  When malted grains are kilned at temperatures up to 200°C, they express bitter and roasted flavours reminiscent of coffee and chocolate.  However, these high temperatures denature the enzymes in the grain, therefore roasted malts typically only comprise 10% or less of the grain bill. The remainder is primarily “base malt”, with the enzymes required to release fermentable sugars from the grains.

Be sure not to drink a stout too cold, as you’ll miss out on most of the rich flavours.  Let the beer come to just below room temperature, ideally 7-13°C (45-55°F) before serving.

To be honest, I’m getting a little tired of the cupcake trend.  I’m really not interested in a tasteless sponge buried under a mound of superglycerinated paste.  I do however love bacon.  And chocolate.  And beer (obviously).  I set out to conquer my aversion to the world’s most annoying food trend by creating something so hedonistic even a hardened cynic like me can’t resist it.  This is a serious cupcake.  None of that piping bag bullshit.  Sweet, salty, smoky, bitter.

The rendered bacon fat adds an unusual smoky flavour to the cake, but the major flavour difference comes from the reduced stout.  Hence I would probably just use melted butter in the future.  I also resent how long I spent scrubbing bacon fat off the counter.  The cake recipe has no eggs, butter or milk in it.  Vegans will hate me for other reasons.

Bacon Chocolate Stout Cupcakes

Don't you want me, baby?
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
½ cup brown sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp salt
6 tbsp melted butter or rendered bacon fat
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 cups (500ml) stout beer
¾ cup dark chocolate chips (optional)

Frosting and Garnish
1 tbsp rendered bacon fat
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp milk
½ tsp maple extract
¼ tsp salt
1 ½ cups icing sugar
6 strips cooked bacon, drained and cooled

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a muffin pan with paper liners.
  2. Pour the stout into a medium saucepan.  Simmer over medium heat until reduced by half, then remove from heat and let cool.
  3. Sift dry ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder) together in large bowl.
  4. Make three depressions in the mound of dry ingredients.
  5. Pour melted butter (or bacon fat) in one depression, vanilla in another, and cider vinegar in the third.
  6. Pour cooled stout all over ingredients and stir until blended.
  7. Fold in chocolate chips if desired.
  8. Pour batter into lined pan and bake until a tester stick or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes.
  9. Allow to cool 5 minutes before removing cake from pan by carefully lifting the parchment or cupcake liners.
  10.  Allow to cool for an additional fifteen minutes before icing.
  11. To make frosting, combine rendered bacon fat, butter, milk, salt, and maple syrup in a small mixing bowl.
  12. Gradually add icing sugar, mixing thoroughly to form a smooth paste.
  13. Feel free to adjust the milk and sugar volumes to attain the desired consistency.
  14. Frost the cooled cupcakes and garnish each with a piece of cooked bacon. 

Makes 16 cupcakes

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