This recipe for Downside-Up Apple Bacon Pecan Muffins comes from the “Bacon Nation” cookbook. “Bacon Nation” features 125 (yes, one hundred and twenty-five) bacon recipes along with a ton of helpful cooking tips and some spectacular food photography that will inspire you in the kitchen. You can’t call yourself a true bacon aficionado unless you own a copy of this cookbook. For more of author Marie Rama’s bacon recipes and cooking tips, visit her blog, the aptly-named There Will Be Bacon.
Eat one of these muffins and you don’t need anything else to satisfy you for breakfast. It’s not an everyday breakfast, though, because it’s sweet and gooey—the kind of thing you want for a treat, not a diet. Kids love to eat muffins and they love to help make them. It never fails to delight them when you remove these muffins from the tin and get a first look and sniff of the beautiful, irresistible topping—or is the proper word bottoming? Traditional cookbook titles often use the term upside-down, but we prefer downside-up because that is where the magic happens, when a plain-looking muffin is flipped over to reveal a treasure trove of flavor.
Makes 12 muffins
For the apple-bacon-pecan topping:
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, or as necessary, plus butter for greasing the muffin tin
6 slices maple-flavored bacon, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 large Granny Smith apples (about 1 pound)
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
Pinch of kosher salt
1/2 cup toasted pecans (see page 264), coarsely chopped
For the muffins:
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon maple extract or pure vanilla extract
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 F. Generously butter a 12-cup nonstick muffin tin. (Or you can use two 6-cup muffin tins.)
2. Prepare the apple-bacon-pecan topping: Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until lightly browned and most of the fat is rendered, 5 to 8 minutes, stirring often and adjusting the heat as necessary. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate to drain, reserving the bacon fat in the skillet. Set the skillet aside.
3. Peel and core the apples. Slice the apples lengthwise into wedges that are approximately ¼ inch thick. Cut the wedges in half crosswise into pieces that are 1 to 2 inches long so that they will fit in the bottom of the muffin tin cups.
4. Place the skillet with the reserved bacon fat over medium heat and add enough of the butter to measure a total of 8 tablespoons of melted fat. Add the apples, ½ cup of brown sugar, and pinch of salt and cook until the apples are tender and the brown sugar has caramelized, 8 to 10 minutes. Distribute the drained bacon evenly among the muffin cups, followed by the apple pieces, including the pan syrup. Sprinkle the pecans over the apple slices.
5. Prepare the muffins: Combine the flour, ¾ cup of brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and ¼ teaspoon of salt in a large bowl.
6. Place the 8 tablespoons of melted butter and the eggs, sour cream, milk, and maple or vanilla extract in another large bowl and whisk to mix. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, folding them together until smooth. Evenly distribute the batter over the layer of bacon, apple, and pecans in the muffin cups. Bake the muffins until they are slightly puffed and lightly browned, 20 to 22 minutes. When the muffins are done a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center of one will come out clean.
7. Let the muffins cool partly in the muffin tin, then turn the muffin tin over onto a platter, releasing the muffins. Serve the muffins warm or at room temperature. If some of the topping remains in the bottom of the muffin tin cups, gently remove it and place it on top of the muffins. The muffins can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.