Thank you all for your kind wishes on the house! Unfortunately, the deal ended up falling through. It was for the best, but was still a stressful and disappointing situation.
Anyway, moving along to the good stuff. Vegetarians, I'm sorry. You may want to click away.
Have you ever had candied bacon? It is positively sinful. I made the dark chocolate bacon cupcakes for Geoff's birthday again this year, and instead of topping them with plain crumbled bacon, I added a chunk of cayenne candied bacon. Oh, the delicousness.
Cayenne Candied Bacon
Adapted from Alex Guarnaschelli and Emeril Lagasse
6 slices thick-cut bacon
1/3 cup brown sugar (dark or light is fine)
3/4 tsp cayenne pepper (adjusted depending on your heat preference)
Preheat the oven to 325F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Mix the brown sugar and cayenne pepper together in a bowl. Toss the bacon together with the sugar mixture, then lay it on the baking sheet. Sprinkle the leftover sugar mixture on the bacon slices, and try to avoid getting it on the pan since it'll burn. Put another layer of aluminum foil over the bacon, and place another baking sheet on top to hold the bacon flat.
Put the tray on the center rack of the oven and bake it for 20 minutes. Check on it at that point. The bacon should be a deep golden-red color, and the edges and ends should be fairly dark. If the bacon isn't done after 20 minutes, give it another 10. When it's done, put the bacon slices on a rack to cool. The bacon may be floppy when you pull it from the oven but it will harden up as it cools.
Dark Chocolate Bacon Cupcakes
Adapted from allrecipes.com
8 slices bacon
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 large eggs
1 cup cold, strong, brewed coffee
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Note: Instead of using buttermilk, you can put a tablespoon of white vinegar into a one-cup measure, then fill it the rest of the way with milk (I usually bake with 2%) and let it sit for at least 5 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375F. Line the cups of a muffin tin with cupcake papers. Make a pot of coffee and stick it in the fridge. Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat, then drain it. When the bacon is cool, chop it into small pieces.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, measure together the coffee, buttermilk, and oil.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid ingredients and the eggs. Stir together until fully incorporated. Mix in the chopped bacon.
Spoon the batter into the muffin tin, filling the cups about 3/4 full. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Dark Chocolate Frosting
Adapted from Beantown Baker
6 Tbsp butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups powdered sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup milk
Cream together the butter and the vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix together the sugar and the cocoa powder. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, then slowly add milk until the frosting reaches your desired consistency. Beat until creamy.