Back to School Celebratory Cupcakes

Summer is coming to an end… as a child it was always bitter sweet. I loved the long days of Summer, playing outside, not sticking to a particular routine or schedule but I can vividly remember going Back to School clothes shopping with my mom, the smell of new school supplies, the excitement finding out who my teacher would be and what friends were in my class. As a parent, back to school has a new meaning but does bring back some nostalgia from my childhood.

I am a big advocate for Breakfast. In fact, I often make Breakfast for dinner! And while I like the breakfasts I serve to be healthy, this week I strayed a little and made something a little more celebratory in nature. After all, we have to get the kiddos excited to start waking up early again.

I made these French Toast Cupcakes during a class 4 years ago and the kids still speak of them. It might be a fun new 1st week of school tradition you can start. On Sunday, before the first week starts, have the kiddos help you in the kitchen.

The first thing you need to do is prepare the Bacon. My favorite way to make bacon is in the Oven. It cuts down on mess and has a rarely easy clean up. Layer a baking sheet with Aluminum Foil folding up each side to make corners to catch the grease. On a metal cooking rack place the strips of bacon. Bake at 375 for 12-15mintues. Voila- Perfect bacon!

This recipe has quite a few ingredients and steps to follow but that makes it a great activity for kids to get involved in. It is important to have "Mise in Place"- everything in it's place so get all your ingredients out to make sure you have everything.. Have your children help find the ingredients- make it a game.. Where does the milk belong (cabinet or fridge) what about the flour.. etc. This is fun for kids of all ages.

In a large bowl mix all dry ingredients together. To spruce up your children's math skills to get ready for school have them help measure with age appropriate activities. Have they learned fractions yet? If so, give them a 1/4 cup measuring cup and have then determine how many times it needs to be measured to measure out 1 cup of Flour, etc. If they aren't quite to fractions level tell them you need 4 scoops and have them help count to 4 or count down from 4. 

Do not be intimidated by the Cake Flour- if you do not have it in your pantry, do NOT fret. You can make your own. Measure out 1 cup of All-purpose flour, remove 2 TB, then sift it into a separate bowl and add in 2 TB of Cornstarch. 

In a separate bowl cream together your Butter and sugar. You can use a hand mixer or give your kid's a workout and have them work on it by hand. If you choose to do this, it's best to beat it with a mixer the last few minutes to make sure the ingredients are combined. Add in the Vanilla, be sure to stop and give it a nice whiff (I love this smell) and the egg whites- Kid's can crack the eggs into a bowl being careful to keep the yolk in tact the simply reach it and remove the yolk- or if they are more skilled practice using the shell and moving the egg back and forth to separate out the white. This recipe definitely requires patience when allowing the kids to help so make sure you have the time. After adding in the eggs, add in 1/3 of flour mixture alternating with the half and half (or use whipping cream of whole milk). Fold in the chopped bacon.

The batter will be thick so do not worry. Fill the cupcake pan 3/4 of the way since they will rise. Bake for 30 minutes if you make regular size. If they are mini cupcakes bake for approximately 18 minutes.

While the cupcakes are baking make the Syrup Frosting and chop more bacon to garnish the cupcakes with.

Recipe:

Cupcakes:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 1 (3.4 oz) instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 4 egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half, at room temperature
  • 5 strips pre-cooked bacon, chopped

Frosting:

  • 8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, at room temperature
  •  2 Tbsp. butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1.4 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 3 strips pre-cooked bacon, chopped

Directions:

 1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Place paper liners in muffin cups.

2. Whisk together the first 8 ingredients in a bowl.

3. Cream butter and sugars in mixer bowl on low speed until combined, 6-8 minutes. Gradually mix in vanilla and egg whites until light and fluffy. Add the flour mixture, 1/3 at a time, alternating with maple syrup and half-n-half, ending with flour. Mix until the ingredients are just combined; do not over mix. Fold in bacon.

4. Pour the batter into muffin tins, filling each cup about . of the way.

5. Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely.

6. Make the frosting by beating cream cheese and butter with mixer on medium speed until creamy. Add the powdered sugar, maple syrup and cinnamon; beat until combined. Spread on cooled cupcakes; top with chopped bacon. Makes 12.

The day I made these for ABC30, I also made 4 other recipes. Keep in mind I do not have a fancy set or assistants, so it was a very busy morning starting at 4:00am. The cameraman, Bill, helped me fill cupcakes, wash dishes, and clean up between shooting each segment. I don't know how we pulled it off but we did! Thanks Bill!