Sunday, June 19, 2011

Still in season: Asparagus!
Also: Sweet and Savory Maple Bacon Cupcakes with Candied Bacon

Happy Father's day to my beloved Dad, and also to my husband!

So asparagus is still in season! Now is the best time to get those long stems of green goodness.  Asparagus, as we know it at the supermarket, are actually the shoots of the plant as the stalk quickly grows woody making it too hard to eat as it matures.  Asparagus is low in calories and sodium, and is a good source of vitamin B6, calcium, and magnesium. Asparagus is also an EXCELLENT source of fiber, protein, vitamins A, C, E, and K, among other vitamins.  So why not load up on asparagus, throw them on the grill and get going?

Here is an easy recipe for asparagus, of which we had adopted from a good friend of ours in Ottawa: It's so good, that even Kasey can't resist! He loves those long green stalks (and the cheese of course)!

Photography  by Ian Cheung

Dijon Mustard Asparagus:

1 bunch of asparagus, thinner ones usually are easier to chew and less fibrous
2 tbsp     Dijon mustard
1 tbsp     Juice from a fresh lemon
1 tbsp     Olive oil
salt and pepper
1/4 cup   sharp white cheddar cheese, grated

1. Marinade asparagus with Dijon mustard, lemon juice, and olive oil for 10 minutes (can be prepared overnight, or in advance).
2. Sprinkle on salt and pepper, grill over BBQ for 3 - 4 minutes or until desired tenderness.  You may also cook these over the stove under medium heat for 4 - 5 minutes, or until desired tenderness.  Save the Dijon mustard marinade as a sauce for the asparagus, no cooking required for the sauce.
3. Sprinkle on cheddar cheese.

Maple Bacon Cupcakes with Candied Bacon

The first time I have ever heard of this cupcake was from my sister, who suggested that I give it a try.  I definitely wasn't impressed by the name or the ingredients as I have often associated cupcakes as being sweet, and not with meats, such as bacon.  However, with my curiosity looming and love for bacon, I have decided to give this cupcake a shot.

First question would be, how do you get the bacon into the cupcake without actually adding in bits and pieces of bacon?  Long hard thoughts later and without success, I have resorted to the internet and found the solution at my fingertips! So with a few modifications to a preexisting great recipe, I have successfully created the Maple Bacon Cupcake with Candied Bacon. This cupcake, as my sister would say, is a breakfast cupcake, but of course, would still fair well as a snack or as dessert.

I do warn you though, my husband was skeptical at first on the flavour of this cupcake, but after trying it, he's HOOKED!  This cupcake is full of maple flavour with a hint of bacon.  Myself, and my son, on the other hand, is hooked on the candied bacon, which is equally as addictive!  You can even make the candied bacon for breakfast in place of pan frying bacon if you enjoy bacon with a sweet twist, as a topping for BBQ burgers, or as a snack on its own (of course, any thoughs of calories placed aside).

Candied Bacon:

1 pkg (500 grams)    Bacon, reduced salt, naturally smoked
1 cup                        Brown Sugar, dark
1 - 2 tsp                   Chili powder
2 tbsp                       Maple syrup

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Line a large flat baking pan with parchment paper.  Sprinkle half the brown sugar onto the parchment paper, and sprinkle with chili powder.
3. Lay the bacon over the brown sugar. Sprinkle chili powder onto bacon strips, and then cover with remainder of brown sugar. Drizzle maple syrup over sugar.
4. Place in oven, cook for 25 minutes, flipping bacon every 7 - 8 minutes. Be careful not to over cook as sugar may brown and burn very quickly.  Remove from oven, transfer bacon strips to a brand new sheet of parchment paper, let cool.
5. Drain bacon fat from parchment paper (Be careful, HOT!), place in refrigerator until solid. Save for cupcake recipe.

Maple Bacon Cupcakes

1/2 cup       Butter, unsalted
1/4 cup       Bacon fat, solidified
3                 Eggs
1 cup          Brown sugar, dark, packed
2 1/2 cups  All purpose flour
2 tsp          Baking powder
1 tsp          Baking soda
1 tsp          Salt
1 cup         Milk
1/4 cup      Maple syrup

1. Let butter and eggs stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 - 12 cupcake pans with large cupcake liners.  Set aside.
3. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set side.  In a measuring cup, combine milk and maple syrup. Set aside.
4. Using an electrical mixer, beat butter and bacon fat for 30 seconds. Add in brown sugar, and beat under low speed for 2 minutes, until fluffy.  Adding in eggs, one at a time, mix on low speed until combined.
5. Alternately add flour mixture and milk mixture to beaten egg/butter mixture, beating on low speed after each addition until combined.
6. Spoon mixture into cupcake liners filling two-thirds of the way full.  Place in oven, and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.  Remove from oven. Cool for 5 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack until fully cooled.
7. Pipe Maple Icing over cupcakes, and decorate with chopped candied bacon. Enjoy.

Maple Icing

1/2 cup   Butter, unsalted
2 tbsp     Maple Syrup
3 - 4 tbsp     Water
4 cups    Icing Sugar, sifted

1. Let butter sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
2. Beat butter and maple syrup using electrical mixer.  Gradually add icing sugar alternately with 1 tbsp of water at time, beating after each addition. Adjust water according to desired consistency.


  1. ASPARAGUS: They're locally grown in Ontario and a great source of fibber. Also, this recipe is so quick, just simply heat your fry pan with a bit of oil while you're marinating. The whole process from start to finish is less than 5 minutes! When you're ready to toss the greens into the hot fry pan, just turn your burner off and throw it in and let it cook while you toss like a chinese chef.

  2. That's the breakfast bacon cupcake I was talking about!!! Love it soooo much :)

  3. omg the bacon cupcakes are beyond cool! I am definitely trying it with my friends.