Ready! Set! Bake! Or Not.

IMG_6637My daughter and my husband are both Pisces.  Which makes sense; they’re both dreamers, compassionate, and devoted.

When my daughter turned one I made her a little vanilla cake with buttercream frosting.

She dug into it with such gusto that I felt pride charge through every inch of my body, and ever since then, I’ve set myself up for a grand baking production at the end of February to mark each tandem birthday celebration with a phenomenal cake.

This wasn’t my daughter’s doing or my husband’s for that matter.  This was all me.

My daughter, from ages 4-12 would have been happy as a clam with one of those neon-frosted generic sheet cakes from the local grocery store.  They spray paint your favorite Disney character to a tee and what six-year old wouldn’t want that?

But as she entered her teenage years, she sorta caught on to Mom’s crazed obsession with the culinary arts.  Got a bit more demanding. Slightly picky.  After all with said parent, she could.  Requests trickled in during middle school.  But this year, her first high school year, she demanded we have A Meeting over the matter.

On the agenda were several birthday cake options.  We went back and forth on a few classics and steadfast favorites:  chocolate with fresh strawberry frosting, red velvet, and Oreo Cooking Crumb.

They all fared well during our talk, but it seemed something was missing.

Remember, my daughter is a Pisces.  She’s devoted.


And it seems her taste buds are devoted to anything bacon.

So of course, the conversation swung to chocolate bacon cupcakes.  They were her favorite.  They seemed the indispensible choice for marking her fifteenth birthday. Bypassing all the tradionalists, they were elected the chosen dessert.

If you’re wondering what happened to my husband, where is his vote in the whole matter, let’s just say, he’s an easy-going guy with a healthy appetite who knows better than to get in the way of two gals and chocolate.

The morning before the big day I set up all the ingredients for the cupcakes, but when I went to preheat the oven, it was a smoky, greasy mess.

After a few minutes of futile scrubbing, I decided to take the plunge and self-clean the oven.  This, for those who do not know, is when you voluntarily ask your oven to burn itself clean for three hours.  The doors lock and the oven screams “HOT” as 1000°F temperature effectively destroys all the crud that has accumulated, in my case, from over ten years of hyperactive baking, roasting and broiling.

I’ve always been a bit skeptical of this feature.

High heat and locked doors is not a good thing in my book.

But I had no choice.

The smoke coming out of that thing was unbearable and I had to get these cupcakes done.

I took a chance and self-cleaned.  Things clicked shut, fans went off, and the entire electric panel light up and hummed quietly, and, after three hours, as promised, the oven emerged sparkling clean.

I was so excited I texted my close foodie friends!  Some even got a picture, as if I were announcing a newborn.

But when the evening came and it was time to bake, the oven failed.

Sure, the electric panel light up and hummed quietly, but no heat came.

I re-texted my foodie friends:

WTF? Oven dies NOW? Gotta get the bacon cupcakes going for tomorrow!

The wonderful thing about such mishaps, especially if they occur late at night, is that it justifies any sort of rash, shopping spree, specifically for cool appliances you’ve been wanting to get but have had no particularly good reason to get them.

This is how I ended up with my new toaster oven that could roast a small calf.


A quick ride to mall, an even speedier purchase, and the new toy was mine.

My daughter came along for that ride, joking about how her dad was going to kill me.  But her dad just smiled when he saw me enter with a huge box.

“You wanted one forever,” was all he said with a sigh.

Pisces:  compassionate.

“Well, I can’t let the girl down, you know, she needs her birthday cupcakes,” I justified.

She did need her cupcakes and I got the toy to bake them for her.

I am Sagittarius:  hopeful, philosophical and straightforward, but most of all, lucky to have two cool Pisceans in my court.


Chocolate Bacon Cupcakes

Chocolate Bacon Cupcakes


  • 12 slices bacon
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 eggs
1 cup cold, strong, brewed coffee
1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium-high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, 3/4 cup cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in the eggs, coffee, buttermilk and oil. Stir just until blended. Mix in 3/4 of the bacon, reserving the rest for garnish. Spoon the batter into the prepared cups, dividing evenly.
  3. Bake in the preheated oven until the tops spring back when lightly pressed, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool in the pan set over a wire rack. When cool, arrange the cupcakes on a serving platter. Frost with your favorite chocolate frosting and sprinkle reserved bacon crumbles on top. Dust with additional cocoa powder.

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Ready! Set! Bake! Or Not.

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