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Chocolate Bacon Cupcakes (gf, df and sf options)

for the dulche de leche:
2 quarts whole milk (any kind UNSWEETENED and FULL fat)
24 ounces sugar (coconut nectar or other granulated sweetener is ok too)
2 vanilla beans, split and seeds scraped
1t baking soda

for the candied bacon:
1 cup packed light brown sugar (if using a liquid sweetener brush onto bacon do not toss)
4T sugar (if using a liquid sweetener brush onto bacon do not toss)
4t cocoa powder
24 slices bacon, cut in half

for the cupcakes:
1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup coffee liquor
1/2 cup brown sugar (coconut nectar or other granulated sweetener is ok too)
2/3 cup cocoa powder
8 ounces chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup potato starch
1/4 cup sticky rice flour
3/4 cup sorghum flour
3/4 cup sugar (coconut nectar or other granulated sweetener is ok too)
1t baking soda
3T apple cider vinegar
1/2 t salt
1/2 cup buttermilk (any non-cow alternative milk is fine but put the vinegar in the milk substitute)
4 eggs
2t vanilla extract

for the frosting:
2 cups dulce de leche
16oz cream cheese, at room temperature (non-dairy versions available)
2t vanilla extract
course sea salt


Make the Dulche de Leche
Combine the milk, sugar, vanilla bean and seeds in saucepan and place over medium heat.

Simmer until the sugar dissolves.

Then stir in baking soda.

Turn the heat down to low – leave uncovered and at stir on occasion but DO NOT fold in the foam. Cook this way for an hour. Remove the bean.

Cook for another hour or until caramel colored. The mixture will reduce down to about 2 cups.

Strain the dulche de leche while warm for a smoother end result.

Make the candied bacon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and set a rack on a foil-lined baking sheet.

Whisk the brown sugar, granulated sugar and cocoa powder.

Coat he bacon then arrange on the rack in a single layer.

Bake until dark brown, 15 to 20 minutes.

Let cool, then transfer to a plate and pat dry with paper towels.

Chop 12 pieces of the bacon; set aside.

Make the cupcakes
Combine the oil, liquor, brown sugar, cocoa powder and chocolate in a double boiler. Whisk until smooth, and then set aside to cool, about 15 minutes.

Add the buttermilk, eggs and vanilla to the cooled chocolate mixture and whisk until smooth.

Sift the flours, sugar, baking soda and salt.

Add the flour mixture and continue whisking until combined.

Pour the batter in lined cupcake pan then sprinkle with the chopped bacon. Bake until the cupcakes spring back when lightly pressed, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes in the pan, then remove to a rack to cool completely.

Make the Frosting
Beat the dulce de leche, cream cheese and vanilla until combined.

Transfer to a zip lock bag.

Put it all together
Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Cut a small piece off the corner of the zip lock bag.

Pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes.

Top with the remaining candied bacon and sprinkle with coarse salt.

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