Cyber Monday Holiday Jewelry Sale at Victoria Camp Designs

Sort of a “drive-by” post today! This image says it best..

That’s right, I’m having a holiday sale! You can purchase items in my shop on Etsy, or through my website. On Etsy, enter the coupon code in the “coupons” box in the checkout screen. On my website, write the coupon code in the “add note to seller” box in the checkout process, and I’ll refund the discount to you. This will be my ONLY sale for the holidays, so if there’s something you wanted, now is the time to purchase with a discount. The sale ends Monday, November 26th at midnight.

Despite the photograph, the sale is not just on map jewelry, of course! The discount applies to any item, with the exception of Gift Certificates.  I have two coupon codes for you to use:
Buy 1 item: Get 10% off when you enter the coupon code 10OFFONE in the checkout screen.

Buy 2 or more items: Get 20% off when you enter the coupon code 20OFFTWO in the checkout screen.

 

Yes, this sale applies to bridal/special occasion jewelry as well!

One more piece of news – I hadn’t gotten a chance to post this earlier, but my hand painted tiny constellation locket necklaces are in Etsy’s holiday gift guide: Editor’s Picks: Personalized Gifts. I took a screen capture from the website:

Pretty awesome, right?

You can order your own constellation locket through my website: http://www.victoriacamp.com/jewelry-necklaces.html I currently (as of Nov. 25th) have at least one of each constellation made and ready to ship, so the turnaround time isn’t quite as long as stated at this moment.

Time to get back to work .. enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Butters in his Professor Chaos dog costume

I’ve never been good at coming up with names for pets. My first cat’s name was Shadow. She was all black. (Really original, no?) Most other animals in my life have been named by friends or other family members.

When we adopted our dog, we were told that his name was Butters, and he’d had brothers (already adopted) named Kyle and Stan. Having watched many episodes of South Park since it’s inception, we knew that we had to keep the name! Well, come to find out, the name really is quite fitting for this dog. Akin to South Park’s Butters, he really is the sweetest dog, albeit sort of naive, but goodhearted and always eager to please.

Anyway, one day Butters (from the show) grew tired of being a people-pleaser, always doing the right thing, helping everybody.. thus one night, his alter ego was born: Professor Chaos. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Professor_Chaos and/or http://www.southparkstudios.com/clips/153471/professor-chaos-is-born) Complete with a tin-foil hat and gloves, and a green cape made from an old t-shirt, he vowed to rein chaos on every path he crossed!

I decided that our Butters needed a new Halloween costume, and Professor Chaos was the obvious choice.

 

 

Yup, he knows he’s adorable.

This outfit has really been a work in progress for the past few weeks. I made the helmet in September. It’s formed out of paperboard, covered in masking tape (scrunched up to look wrinkled) and then spray painted silver. There’s a thin clear elastic underneath to help hold it in place on his head, but it is still pretty loose.

I draped fabric over him and marked it to make a general template (a dog bodice pattern, if you will..) He’s kind of an awkwardly shaped dog.. large rib cage, short stubby legs! The armholes are actually a bit too big on the shirt, but you don’t notice when the outfit is all together. His blue top is jersey knit fabric. I sewed his cape out of dark green flannel, and it closes with a large piece of velcro along the side of the neck.  I sewed his booties out of plain gray cotton woven fabric, added more masking tape to the front, and then spray painted the front. I didn’t want to make it too thick or all the way around the foot, otherwise he couldn’t bend them to walk!

The button/chain detail was pretty fun to make.  I made the large gray buttons out of polymer clay, and affixed a pin back to each one. I also included a hole/connecting piece on the back of each one, to attach the silver chain. This piece actually came in handy, because I was able to pin the top edge of the shirt and the bottom edge of the cape together, so they would stay in place!

When all is said and done, I suppose I could have used aluminum foil for the helmet, but I was worried about it being too heavy – and quite frankly, I just didn’t want it that shiny!

Here’s a comparison of the two. What do you think?

Butters got some treats during the photoshoot for his excellent behavior, and a rawhide chew as a reward when we were through. He’s such a good dog!

Pumpkin Coffee Cake with Pecan Streusel

I love pumpkin! (Unless it’s in pie, that is.) Pumpkin whoopie pies, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin cheesecake, and even pumpkin marshmallows, but pumpkin pie? Blech. No thanks. You can keep it!

 

Once July rolls around, I start thinking about fall, and pumpkin recipes. I saved this one on Pinterest a while ago, and have already made it twice this season. Actually, the first time was probably in July. Or maybe August. Either way, Fall was not on most people’s minds, but I needed a pumpkin fix. The recipe was amazing, and we ate the entire thing before I had time to take a few photos.

 

Naturally, I wanted this recipe documented here, so what better excuse to make it yet again?

 

I have a tendency to make slight modifications to my baked goods. The first time I made this, I used half whole wheat flour, and half white flour. The second time, I was out of whole wheat flour so I just used all white flour, and used pecans in the streusel topping instead of walnuts. I also used vegetable oil instead of butter for the cake part, both times. (Butter for the topping, of course!)

 

 

Honestly, this recipe is super easy. I make a half batch, which fills up a single 8 or 9-inch cake pan. Plenty for two people. Or more, if you like sharing.

 

 

I had to include my favorite Pumpkin Jar in this shot. Isn’t it adorable? I never put anything inside of it, because I can’t decide on what. It’s handmade by Bauman Stoneware. (Their Etsy shop looks pretty much sold out at the moment, but you can click on their sold items page to see more of their amazing designs. I want one of their fabulous teapots!)

 

 

Onto the recipe! I originally found it posted on the blog Not So Humble Pie, who made theirs with a icing glaze.

 

Pumpkin Coffee Cake
From Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms
1/2 cup butter, softened (*I substituted equal amounts vegetable oil.)
1 1/2 cups sugar
15 oz can pumpkin
3 large eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt

Streusel Topping:
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup walnuts, chopped (*I used pecans this time.)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray the inside of a tube or bundt pan with nonstick spray; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until well blended. Add the pumpkin and eggs and mix thoroughly. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Add the flour mixture to the pumpkin mixture. Mix on medium speed until combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Prepare the streusel topping: In a small bowl combine the flour, sugars, cinnamon, melted butter and walnuts. Sprinkle the streusel over the cake batter. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for about 15 minutes. Slide a knife around the pan so the cake doesn’t stick when removing it. Invert the cake onto a plate. Then invert the cake onto another plate, so that the streusel is on the top. Cool completely. Cover and store at room temperature.

(For two round cakes: coat two 8-inch rounds with non-stick spray and place a circle of parchment in the bottom. Divide the batter between the two pans, top with the streusel (x3) and bake for approximately 35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.)

 

*As also mentioned, I made half of this recipe, in an 8-inch cake pan. (Or maybe it was 9-inches? I can’t remember offhand.) I baked it for 30 minutes.

 

Enjoy!

Banana Oat Dog Cupcakes – Butters on the KOFY TV Dog Election Campaign Trail!

I’m not entirely sure how I’ve managed to maintain this blog for over a year and never mention our pup, Butters, given that he’s a constant source of entertainment around our home! Butters was a foster dog that we adopted in the summer of 2008; to our best guess, a Jack Russell Terrier/Dachshund mix…and quite possibly the sweetest dog I’ve ever known.


Butters loves nothing more than laying in the sunshine, and accompanying us wherever possible – hiking, in particular. (Although he’s just as happy being a beach bum, laying on a blanket with us by the ocean…or on the couch watching tv!)

Butters – whether he is aware or not – is entered into a “Dog Mayor Election” hosted by our local tv station, KOFY TV. KOFY considers themselves a dog-friendly station; they have “Dog IDs” that they air during commercial breaks.. short clips of dogs sitting in a studio set that looks like a living room..with a blurb at the bottom displaying the name of the dog, and what city they live in.

When I saw that they were having a dog election, obviously I had to enter Butters! Each dog at the audition had their Dog ID filmed for television as well, so regardless of who wins, we can still see Butters on tv at some point!

Butters and I on the KOFY TV Election set!

In the spirit of the dog election, I made some “campaign” photos!

The way the competition works is that each dog is a contestant for the county they live in. Everyone votes for their favorite dog until the end of the month. The top 3 dogs from each county move on to the next round of voting, and stop by the studio for an interview. Voting for that round is in October. The final winners from each county are featured in the KOFY TV Dog Calendar.  Pretty adorable, right? If you want to vote for Butters (you can vote once per day) please go here to register and vote: http://kofyclub.upickem.net/r/33U6b53NmY7?r=274427

Since Butters has been such a good sport, I decided to make him some dog-friendly cupcakes just for him!

Campaign themed, naturally.

“Can I eat this?”

.. it was inevitable.. he crashed my photo shoot! Post-photo, I took out the decoration and removed the wrapper for him, so he could dig in.

Here’s some photos of the process…

Mixing the batter.

Ready to go into the oven.

Ready for frosting!

Here’s the recipes I used, with slight modifications:

Three Dog Bakery Banana Honey Cake

Ingredients:

2 cups water
2 bananas
1/8 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1 egg
2 tablespoons honey
Directions:

1 Preheat oven to 350°F In a bowl combine water, bananas, vanilla, egg and honey. Then add whole wheat flour and baking powder. Mix well.
2 Pour mixture into a 8-inch cake pan sprayed with a nonstick spray.
3 Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out dry.

(I used half of the recipe, which made 8 cupcakes using silicon molds. I also replaced 1/4 C of the flour with oats. I then baked them for 20 minutes, which seemed just right. I think they would have been fine at 17 mins. as well.)
—-
Ingredients:
2 cups mashed banana
1 tablespoons softened butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons flour

Directions: Mix until combined. (I substituted 2TB of peanut butter, instead of the butter, and omitted the vanilla extract.)

The Upcycled Collection – Wedding and Special Occasion Statement Necklaces

One of my latest collections has been brewing in my mind for quite some time.

 

I’m sure most of us are at least vaguely aware of the wastefulness that occurs in today’s society, but it’s probably not something that is given too much thought on a daily basis. As a jewelry designer, I see “wasted” product every day that I work. Paper scraps from map cut-outs. Wire clippings from metalwork. Short segments of chain from a previously broken strand. It happens. I recycle as much of it as I possibly can, but in the back of my mind I knew that there is so much jewelry that’s tossed out, destined for the landfill without a second chance.

 

This got me thinking. Instead of continuously buying new materials, what else could I do?

 

Well, for starters,  I use vintage materials whenever I can. If I can re-purpose something that’s already been in existence for decades rather than buying brand new, then I do it. I’ve actually been doing that for a long time, but I felt like I needed to do something more.. challenging.

 

And thus, the Upcycled Collection was born!

 

Multi Strand Statement Wedding Necklace, Vintage Flower Brooch

 

To design this collection, I’ve spent many hours sourcing the perfect components: vintage brooches, beads and baubles; broken necklaces and bracelets destined for the landfill; strands of vintage pearls, chains and beads that need a little TLC..

 

Layered Chain and Pearl Wedding Necklace, Vintage Green Flower Brooch

 

The purpose of this collection was to utilize as many old/vintage components as possible without buying anything new. Now, I do have to use some newer pieces – such as jump-rings, beading wire, and other small (but essential) pieces to hold everything together – but the bulk of the designs are composed of vintage and re-purposed parts. Many of the parts I had were broken necklaces, half-length strands of chain that had broken in the middle, vintage pearl strands that weren’t all pretty. (Of course, I didn’t use any of the ones that couldn’t be made presentable with a good cleaning.)

 

In the necklace below, for example, I had four jumbo metal chain links that had been removed from an old broken necklace. These links were still in good usable condition, and were a great accent to this statement piece!

 

Multi Strand Statement Wedding Necklace, Vintage Flower Brooch

 

The next design also contains of my FAVORITE vintage brooches! This color orange is so unusual.. not quite orange, not quite salmon.. but something inbetween. You’ll notice the center of the daisy is composed of teeny tiny orange and yellow flowers, with orange rhinestone centers. Beautiful!

 

Multi Strand Statement Wedding Necklace, Vintage Orange Flower Brooch

 

Multi Strand Statement Wedding Necklace, Vintage Orange Flower Brooch

 

The vintage brooches in the majority of these designs are removable. I think they look fantastic on the necklace and really add the “oomph” factor, but they’re too pretty to remain static.. they are pinned in place, and can be taken off if you want to wear just the brooch and make a more subtle statement.

 

I’ll admit.. it’s been a little difficult to let some of these go. (Such as the PHENOMENAL vintage brooch in the first photo – gold filigree flowers with white enamel, blue and clear rhinestones.. that piece still had its original tags on it when I found it!) Not to mention this Coro brooch; I have a weakness for Coro brooches. Perhaps it’s the rhinestones. This brooch isn’t in perfect condition, but really adds a delicate femininity to the pearl necklace (all vintage pearl strands.) It needed a little TLC first, including a replacement of the center rhinestone. Still one of my favorite pieces, regardless.

Layered Pearl Wedding Necklace, Vintage Rhinestone Flower Brooch

 

 

I also made a couple of longer statement pieces that could be worn on everyday occasions, such as a day at the office or a day out with your friends. If you’re a more dramatic bride, you could wear them on your wedding day! The brooches are not removable on these two designs.

 

Long Layered Gold Chain Necklace, Gold Flower, Dramatic, Multi Layer

 

Long Layered Silver Chain Pearl Necklace, Vintage Aqua Flower Brooch

 

I may add a couple more pieces to the collection later on, but these are the designs currently available. Each necklace is absolutely one of a kind. If you click on any picture, it will take you to the item listing.

 

Feel free to share your thoughts!

 

 

Twilight Wedding Cake Miniature Replica

Aside from my jewelry business, I run a miniatures hobby shop on the side. One of my specialties is custom miniature wedding cake replicas. These cakes are made in 1/12th scale (1 foot in real life = 1 inch in miniature) and always bring a new challenge. After all, each bride and groom have a unique cake at their wedding, right?

Recently, I received my most complex cake request so far – a miniature replica of Edward and Bella’s wedding cake from the Twilight movie. Not having seen the film, I wasn’t entirely sure what this project would involve until the customer sent me the photo – oh my! This was one of the most elaborate cakes I had seen in a very long time.

Not one to turn down a challenge, I said Yes! The original cake was approximately 5-feet tall; the miniature is just under 5-inches. Here’s the side-by-side comparison:

 

Here’s a couple of work-in-progress photos…

After I created the base layers, I had to build up the cake around the area that the flowers would surround. Looks pretty silly, doesn’t it?

 

Ahh, much better with the addition of the flowers.. almost done with the bulk floral sections at this point, and adding the last few onto the top detail. Yes, I use a sewing pin to help position the teensy tiny flowers into place!

And the finished cake…..

Miniature wedding cake replica, made entire of polymer clay. Front view..

 

The floral detail on the cake is filled with cream colored roses, white sweet peas, and green viburnum.

 

close-up of the top detail

 

close-up of the bottom detail

 

Whew! That was certainly a lot of work, but I am very happy with the finished result, and so is my customer. If you’re curious to see other cakes I’ve made, you can visit my miniatures shop here: http://dollhousedelights.etsy.com and click on the “sold items” to see the photos.

Personalized Constellation Cuff Bracelet (with glow-in-the-dark stars!)

Oh, hello..yes, I am still on the constellation kick. I can’t help it – sometimes my mind is swirling with ideas and I just have to get them all made and physically held in my hands before I can move on to the next project.

These bracelets were one of those ideas where I was thinking about them one afternoon, and suddenly found myself at the art store the next day to pick up the final pieces needed to get started. (In this case, it was glow-in-the-dark paint….)

 

Work in progress: Why yes, I do mix my paints with toothpicks! (And often paint with them..it’s a strange habit I’ve had since my youth. You’d think I would just invest in tiny paint brushes already…) I kind of like the palette happening here..

 

I found myself spending the entire afternoon happily painting away. For some reason, painting puts me back into the memories of my grade school days. Perhaps I just never allowed myself the time to enjoy it as an adult.

 

I swirled around the colors and created a painted palette of deep dark black, indigo and violet night sky on the cuff, accented with teeny tiny stars, meteor showers, and of course – the focal point – constellations. (That glow!) The longer I painted, the more happy I became about this piece. As a designer, sometimes something just “clicks” and you know it’s going to be a great piece. Halfway through completion, I started sending picture messages to my friends with accompanying notes such as “Aah! So excited about this cuff!” I couldn’t help it – these turned out even better than I’d originally been anticipating! Here is one of the finished pieces…

 

 

The first completed cuff featured the Ursa Major (Big Dipper) constellation. I painted a few more bracelets, but left a space in the center to add a custom constellation of your choice. After the constellation is chosen, I then follow a finishing process of sealing and protecting the cuff with three layers of various sealants, and a felt lining.

 

 

I added a special embroidered detail into the inside of this one.. (the initials of the couple who’s zodiac signs were represented on the front)…

 

 

Here’s a photo of how the bracelet looks in the dark…

 

 

Pretty awesome, right? These bracelets are available in my Etsy shop, https://www.etsy.com/listing/104265444/personalized-constellation-cuff-bracelet You can choose from any of the zodiac signs, Ursa Major, or if you have another choice just let me know! (I’ve already made one with Orion for a customer’s request.) These make great gifts for your friends, or something special for yourself.. perhaps the constellations representing yourself and a loved one?

Fine Silver Rings (Adventures in fine silver clay..)

Long overdue as it is, I’ve begun making fine silver rings to add to my collection!

 

The first ring I started with was one for myself (naturally.) I wanted to see how much the metal clay would shrink in my kiln and get an idea for how well they wear on the hand.

 

 

I thought it came out pretty darn nice! I could have put a little more work into the band itself to make it smoother and more even, but I was more concerned about the shrinkage factor and placement of the roses. As you can see, it fits my pinky (which is SMALL! About a size US 2.) The clay shrank about three ring sizes, which surprised me, because the brand I use is supposedly known for not shrinking as much. (Art Clay 650.)

 

Regardless, I was still thrilled with the ring and excited to make more!

 

The next ring I made was this:

 

 

I have mixed emotions about the outcome of this ring. I purchased some fine silver ring band blanks, which means that you form your clay design around the band of the ring, and then fire it as usual. This is supposed to adhere the fine silver clay onto the band and leave a nice smooth inner ring surface. Well, I’m not sure if I should have fired it for less time given that the band was used as the base, but the clay shrank too much. Or, maybe I didn’t use enough of it around the band and should have covered it with a thicker surface area. Either way, I ended up with a couple of hairline cracks which was really disappointing. I filled them in and fired it in the kiln again (for much less time than previous) and it’s now mended. However, it’s sort of “lumpy” in my eyes, so this prototype will again be delegated to my fingers.

 

In designing this ring, I used a teeny tiny hexagon shaped stamp that I made for myself. It’s one single hexagon, so each time I press the stamp into the clay, it makes one single honeycomb cell. I know they make hexagon/honeycomb sheet stamps, but I think that takes the fun out of designing and creating something by hand. I also created the tiny bee by hand, piece by piece, and used my x-acto knife and some sand paper to carve out the small details. I’m sort of attached to the little guy! (My father was a beekeeper for many years, so I think it’s just in my DNA or something to be a honeybee fan. Evidence as seen in my previous post about honeybees and honeycomb..)

 

Anyway, despite the somewhat discouraging former attempt, I’m definitely going to make more of these in the future. Next time, I’ll form the base by hand as usual instead of using those darn ring band bases. (So much for that!)

 

The third ring on my agenda was another rose ring. I spent substantially more time shaping and sanding the band on this one, and am truly happy with the result! The roses were much easier to form and set this time around too.

 

 

 

Oohhhh shiny! The band came out nice and smooth. I burnished and polished it a lot, so it has a lovely glossy sheen! I oxidized the inside of the roses to add depth, as I do with my rose earrings.

 

 

This ring is completed and ready to ship, in a US size 5 1/2.  I’ll have other sizes available at some point, but not quite yet.

The listing for this ring can be found here: http://www.etsy.com/listing/104072934/fine-silver-rose-ring-size-5-12-hand

If you’d like to learn more about the process involved in working with fine silver metal clay – creating the rose jewelry in particular – please feel free to check out my previous blog post,  Fine Silver Rose Earrings.

Oakland Rose Garden and a Special Giveaway

Having only lived in the bay area a few years, there’s still so much we haven’t discovered or visited yet. One of the “places to see” on my list was the Morcom Rose Garden in Oakland. Given that we have dry season here almost year round, I figured there were only a few months of the year when I could catch the roses in full bloom after the California rains have finally fallen.

I recently had the pleasure of visiting this beautiful garden last month with one of my nieces, and I am so glad we went! The garden was much larger than I had anticipated. Among the rows upon rows of gorgeous roses, each one different (and labeled!.. although I didn’t bring a notebook..) the garden also had a gigantic multi-tiered waterfall that cascaded down the hill.

We meandered through each pathway and took many pictures, of course! Here’s a few of my favorites.

Not roses obviously, but these pretty flowers filled a median in the entryway.

Gorgeous magenta petals!

Partial view of the tiered waterfall..

This gorgeous rose looks like it had been hand painted.

Watercolor petals..

This rose trio reminded me of a necklace I made before..

See the resemblance?!

Classic ivory roses. So beautiful and delicate.

The petals are starting to fade away, but still look so pretty and fragile..

I just adored this one. It looked so unique!

After our tour of roses, we decided to take a break for a snack and some silly pictures!

Well, that garden sure was inspiring, to say the least. Now onto the giveaway!

Hand formed clay roses on sterling silver posts (approximately 3/8″ wide.)

As part of my Etsy Christmas in July special (and because I just love flowers, which is obvious) I’m giving away a pair of my Petite White Clay Rose Earrings! Want to win them? Here’s how to enter:

Required: Leave a comment telling me what your favorite kind of flower is. No, it doesn’t have to be roses to qualify. ;)

Additional Entries: Up to two bonus entries can be earned by doing either of the following (Please leave a separate comment for each additional entry)..

A. Become a fan of Victoria Camp Designs on Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/victoriacampdesigns. Leave a comment here to tell me you did! (Addendum 7/11: Already a FB fan? Gain this extra entry if a friend signs up! For privacy, just let me know their initials in your comment here so that I can verify on my page that they’ve joined. FYI, fan name lists do not show up publicly on the FB page!)

B. “Pin” one of my jewelry items onto Pinterest and comment with the link of your pin! Items can be pinned from my Etsy shop, Website, or this blog. You can pin as many items as you want, but please be aware that only one extra entry per person will qualify.

Entries will be accepted from 7/11/2012-7/22-2012 midnight PST. I will randomly select a winner using a number generator from random.org on 7/23/2012. Winner will be notified via email and announced on this entry. Good luck!

7/23/2012- Time’s up! Congratulations to winner number 11, Marj!

Brown Sugar Cupcakes with Maple Frosting and Candied Bacon

If you’re a vegan or vegetarian, you may want to skip this post. If not, allow me to introduce you to my latest cupcake creation..

Yup, that’s bacon. But not just any bacon – candied bacon. If you’re a fan of bacon and you’ve never had this – as I hadn’t before last night – then you’re missing out! It’s sweet and sugary, salty and savory all in one delicious bite. Oh, yeah, and there’s some other stuff below the bacon in these too.. brown sugar cake and maple frosting. I don’t know how to describe this cupcake other than a curious hybrid between breakfast and dessert. Is there a word for that? ‘Bressert,’ maybe? (Okay, that doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as ‘brinner!’)

I’d never made any of the components of this recipe before, but I had high hopes that were not disappointed. I started with the cupcake recipe… admittedly, I found this recipe because we had run out of white sugar and I still wanted a cupcake. In typical cupcake-baking fashion, my mind and hands started to meander through the cupboards in search of what else I could combine them with. I had originally been thinking about candied nuts, but we didn’t have walnuts or pecans and I didn’t think peanuts would be a good match.

That’s when the light bulb went off – we had bacon! And maple syrup! The decision was clearly made. I had no idea how to make candied bacon, but was pleasantly surprised at how ridiculously simple it was. I didn’t bother looking for a recipe for the maple syrup frosting, since I didn’t have enough powdered sugar to make a full batch anyway. You can’t really tell from the pictures, but it was sort of a cross between a maple glaze and a maple frosting. I would have preferred a typical fluffy frosting, but the taste and consistency was enough to satisfy the sugar craving.

Okay, I know you’re just scrolling on through for the recipes, so here you go!

For the cupcakes, I used half of the original recipe, which made 6 perfect cupcakes. (I use silicone liners.) I also replaced equal amounts of butter with vegetable oil instead. (So in my case, I used 1/4 Cup vegetable oil.) The cupcakes turned out really moist and delicious, so I can’t vouch for changes in flavor/texture if you use the butter. I’ve been using oil in my cakes/cupcakes since I prefer cupcakes a little less dry. You’ll notice this recipe has no white sugar. I really liked the flavor of these.. they weren’t overly sweet at all, so don’t be afraid of piling on the frosting!

Brown Sugar Cupcakes

[originally from How Sweet It Is]

makes 12 cupcakes

Ingredients:

1 cup loosely packed brown sugar

1 large egg

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup milk

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled (I used vegetable oil)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt, stirring to mix. Set aside. Line a cupcake tin with liners.

In a large bowl, whisk brown sugar and egg until smooth. Add in vanilla extract and milk, again mixing until combined. Slowly pour in melted butter, continuing to whisk. Add in the flour, soda and salt, mixing with a large spoon until batter is smooth.

Using a 1/4 cup measure, add batter to liners. Bake for 16-19 minutes, or until tops are puffy and golden, and don’t jiggle when touched. (Mine were perfect at 19 minutes! Golden brown with a nice dome.) Let cool completely.

Frosting… umm.. no recipe, sorry! I would advise using your favorite vanilla frosting recipe and adding in maple syrup until you’ve reached your desired flavor and consistency. For my 6 cupcakes, I used 2 TB softened butter, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, 1 C powdered sugar, a splash of milk and oh.. about.. 2-3 TB of maple syrup. I needed another 1 C powdered sugar and another splash of milk to get my normal frosting fluffiness, but ran out of sugar, as mentioned above. Honestly, you could make a maple glaze for these and it would still be delicious, or you could make a traditional frosting with the added maple syrup.

Candied Bacon.. this one is super easy! I used a thick cut applewood smoked bacon, which needed a little extra cooking time. Set the timer for a shorter amount of time than you think these will need, and check on them frequently – you don’t want the sugar to burn and in turn burn your bacon!

I reviewed a half a dozen recipes for candied bacon, and the general idea is this:

1. Pour some brown sugar and a dash of cinnamon (if you like cinnamon) onto a plate

2. Coat bacon on both sides with the brown sugar mix

3. Prepare your baking sheet – cover it with aluminum foil, and place a wire rack on top. Spray the wire rack with non-stick spray.

4. Place sugar coated bacon on the baking sheet and bake for about 20-30 minutes until the sugar is syrupy and the bacon has the desired crispness that you prefer. (General oven settings were 325-F for regular bacon, 350-F for thick cut bacon.)

5. Remove from oven and immediately take the bacon off the rack, and allow to cool completely before chopping. (If you can resist eating it all first!)

I used thick cut bacon with my oven at 350-F for 25 minutes. I probably could have put them in another 5 minutes before they burned, but it smelled too good to wait!

Well, there you have it! Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I hear a cupcake calling my name…