Here’s an oldie but a goodie from my recipe arsenal that I created a few years ago (and please excuse the bad pic, as it was before I knew anything about food photography). These bacon-dark chocolate cupcakes with peanut butter frosting are one of my most requested recipes, so here it is. It’s also one of the recipes I made during one of my regular cooking spots on Studio 10 (watch the video here titled “A Birthday Treat with a Twist”).

I will confess that I cheated a bit on this one — I used cake mix from a box. (Gasp!) Baking cakes and pastries completely from scratch has not always been my forte (actually, my worst subject in school). They’re so fussy to make and easy to screw up, and I hate measuring out ingredients. I take the Rachael Ray approach to cooking: a palmful of this, a pinch of that, etc. Bottom line: you can’t mess up with cake mix and I had my reputation relying on these — no room for error. At least I made the peanut butter frosting from scratch, thus redeeming my honor.

The rich chocolate and smoky bacon marry beautifully and are enhanced even more by the sweet and salty peanut butter frosting. This is definitely a ‘must try’, whether it be in cupcake, cookie, or bar form. And if you don’t eat bacon, your loss.

Chocolate and Bacon Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting
(makes 18 cupcakes)

Adapted from: A Good Appetite

Chocolate cake mix (I used dark chocolate)
8-10 slices bacon, cooked until crisp and chopped into small pieces (Use a cheaper brand as it’s less fatty and will crisp up better; reserve some for garnish)

1. Prepare cupcake batter according to package directions and stir in the bacon.

2. Spoon batter into cupcake pan, each about 3/4 full. Bake for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into one comes out clean. Let them cool completely before frosting.

Peanut Butter Frosting
Adapted from: Vanilla Garlic
(makes enough to cover 18 cupcakes)

5 tablespoons butter, soft
1 1/2 cups peanut butter (I used crunchy)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk or heavy cream
1/2 cup peanuts, chopped (for garnish)

1. In a medium bowl, mix together butter, peanut butter, and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium speed until combined.

2. Add powdered sugar in three parts (1/2 cup at a time) and mix on medium speed until completely incorporated, scraping the sides of the bowl to mix everything in.

3. Add milk or cream, a little bit at a time, while mixing on medium speed until frosting is at desired thickness (not too runny but thick enough to spread). Start frosting your cupcakes!

Note: Store these in the refrigerator because they’re perishable.