Bacon Pumpkin Mac and Cheese
Bacon, pumpkin, pasta, cheese - any questions?
You know what one of my very favorite things is about this time of year? There are SO many excuses to bake. So many! I will take every last one of them, too.
I have been in the mood for molasses – which may sound like it’s out of the main range of pantry goods, but you can actually buy it at Target, Kroger family stores, etc. It’s not too hard to come by and it’s not very expensive, but it is a little old-school, and that makes it a bit unusual. It adds a deep, almost chocolatey flavor to anything you put it in, and for that reason I like to put in whatever baked goods I can. Dave likes to put it in granola, and yes, it is utterly fantastic.
This recipe is adapted from Martha Stewart’s Molasses Spice Cake recipe:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
1/3 cup sour cream, room temperature
1/3 cup molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cups packed light-brown sugar
Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting (again, based on a Martha recipe):
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 (8 oz.) package cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 pound powdered/confectioners’ sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and fill about 18 cupcakes worth of holes in cupcake tins with wrappers. Spray lightly with a little nonstick cooking spray.
For the cupcakes, start by beating your butter and sugar together with a mixer until they are light and fluffy – and by light, I also mean that it will appear lighter in color as well as being more of a whipped texture. This will take 5 minutes or so, or at least it did on my stand mixer (paddle attachment, medium speed).
While the mixer is going, stir the flour, spices, pepper, salt and baking powder together and set aside. Use a whisk to thoroughly mix the eggs, sour cream, molasses and vanilla in a liquid measuring cup.
When the sugar and butter have been creamed, turn down the speed to medium-low and start adding the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients, alternating between the two. I mixed them in with 3 batches of each. You might have to scrape off the sides a few times to get everything to mix thoroughly.
When the batter is thoroughly mixed, pour into the cupcake tins and bake for about 15-20 minutes. I always like to take a peek at them at the low end of the spectrum and watch them from there. Allow to cool COMPLETELY before you attempt to frost.
For the frosting, beat together the butter and cream cheese until they are thoroughly mixed. Add the powdered sugar in about one cup at a time (this stuff lives up to its name – put in too much at once and it will fly everywhere). When the sugar is worked in, add the cinnamon and vanilla and mix to combine. I recommend chilling for a few minutes before frosting the cupcakes, but it’s kind of a specific temperature you are looking for – right out of the fridge, it will probably be too stiff to be easily piped out of an icing bag. Test the icing a bit before trying the cupcakes to make sure it is mobile. And again – don’t try until the cupcakes are totally and 100 percent cool! You’ll shoot your eye out…