I originally made these as a Valentine's Day dessert for my husband. They require a bit of work, but it's definitely worth it - it's the manliest cupcake he'll ever have!
It's important to have all your ingredients at room temperature for this recipe. When measuring your beer, try to pour it slowly at an angle so it doesn't foam up too much. Wait until the foam settles before determining your measurement. Also, be sure to make your candied cayenne bacon ahead of time; it has to refrigerate for a couple hours before being used. —Kitchenette
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Combine the brown sugar, espresso powder and cayenne pepper in a small bowl. Sprinkle half the mixture over the bacon, pressing to make sure it adheres. Flip the bacon over and press on the rest of the sugar mixture.
Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with foil. Place cooling racks in the pans, and coat them lightly with vegetable oil (this will help prevent sticking). Put the bacon on the cooling racks and bake for 30-35 minutes, until browned and crispy. Let cool, and refrigerate for an hour or two to harden. This can be made a day in advance.
Maple Stout Cupcakes
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a small pot, bring the stout to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for about a minute, and remove from the heat to cool slightly. Place cupcake liners in two standard cupcake pans. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, espresso powder and cinnamon; set aside.
In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment or a hand mixer, cream 1 1/2 sticks of butter and the sugar together on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until fully incorporated between additions. In a measuring cup, whisk together the cooled stout, sour cream, 2 tablespoons maple syrup and vanilla extract. With the mixer running, slowly pour in the stout mixture. It won't look too pretty at this point, but don't worry - it'll all come together when the flour is added.
With the mixer on the lowest speed, slowly add the flour until fully incorporated. Scoop the batter into the prepared pans, filling them about 2/3 of the way. A standard ice cream scoop works well for this. Bake 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool for 10 minutes in the pans, then finish cooling on a rack.
In the meantime make the frosting: Pulse 6 slices of the candied cayenne bacon in a food processor until finely chopped. Beat the cream cheese and remaining 4 tablespoons butter in a mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy. Sift the powdered sugar and add to the cream cheese mixture, mixing for a few minutes. Add the remaining tablespoon maple syrup and finely chopped bacon, mixing until well combined.
When the cupcakes are completely cooled, top with the frosting. Cut each of the remaining 4 slices of bacon into 6 pieces and top each cupcake with a piece of bacon.