Spiced Apple Cupcakes with Maple Frosting, Coconut Bacon

On our recent vacation to Kauai we frequented the salad bar at Papaya Natural Foods in Kapa’a. My favorite salad topping? Their coconut bacon. Flakes of fresh coconut, seasoned just right, then baked to achieve that smoky goodness reminiscent of the fatty meat that continues to be all the rage. But in comparison to actual bacon, coconut bacon contains less fat, no cholesterol and 100% more compassion. What’s not to love?

I made a whole batch of the stuff and have enjoyed sprinkling it on salads, adding it as a garnish to soup, making it the main ingredient in my Chinese fried rice, layering it with avocado, tomato and vegan mayo for a BLT and just snacking on it straight up. But my first experiment with coconut bacon was with these decadently moist Spiced Apple Cupcakes with Maple Frosting. The combination of apples, maple and coconut bacon is unexpected while being perfectly magical. I promise you’ll go hog wild for these delicious treats. And the piggies will thank you. : )

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 red apples, chopped
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp vegan butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1-1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

For the Maple Frosting:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2-3 tbsp pure maple syrup (start with less and gradually add more if needed to achieve desired consistency)

For the Coconut Bacon (thanks to Beard & Bonnet for the simple, drool-worthy recipe!):

  • 1 tbsp liquid smoke
  • 1 tbsp Tamari
  • 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 tbsp water
  • 1-1/2 cups unsweetened flaked coconut
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Set your oven to 325 degrees.

Begin by preparing your coconut bacon. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the liquid smoke, Tamari, maple syrup, and water.

The seasoning for the coconut

The seasoning for the coconut

Add the coconut flakes and stir until all of the liquid has been absorbed by the coconut. Add the paprika and black pepper and toss to combine.

The seasoned coconut flakes, ready for baking

The seasoned coconut flakes, ready for baking.

Pour the seasoned coconut out onto an un-greased baking sheet, being sure to spread them out into an even, single layer. Bake for 15-20 minutes stirring every 5 minutes or so to prevent burning. Take them out when they’re a deep reddish-brown color, crispy and browned on the edges. Be sure to keep a close eye so the flakes don’t burn!

Ready to be crisped to perfection!

Ooh la la! Coconut bacon is in the house.

Ooh la la! Coconut bacon is in the house.

Now you’re ready to make your cupcakes.

Turn up the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium saucepan, combine your chopped apples, brown sugar, butter and spices and cook over low to medium heat, stirring often, until tender. Set aside.

Apples ready for cooking!

Apples ready for cooking!

In a medium mixing bowl, mix together the almond milk, oil, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla. In a separate, large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Pour the wet ingredients in with the dry and mix together until just combined. Gently fold in the apple mixture.

Adding the cooked spiced apples to the cupcake batter

Adding the cooked spiced apples to the cupcake batter

Pour the cupcake batter into lightly greased muffin tins (or filled with parchment baking cups), 3/4 full. Bake in your preheated oven for 20-22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

While your cupcakes are baking, prepare your maple frosting by simply whisking together the ingredients.

When your cupcakes have cooled, top them with a generous layer of frosting and sprinkle with a healthy garnish of coconut bacon. These cupcakes look impressive, taste amazing and please the palates of vegans and bacon-lovers alike!

Happy eating!