"Thick, smoky bacon, cooked to a crisp and woven into our Madagascar Bourbon vanilla cake, topped with rich, buttery maple cream cheese frosting,” a description reads on the Sprinkles Cupcakes website.
The bakery, which has been referred to by the Food Network as the “world’s first cupcake bakery,” has decided to experiment with a treat bacon-lovers will find hard to resist. The new cupcake combines sweet with savory, and is just one of the many creative bacon desserts rising in popularity.
Bacon has been combined with sweet foods in the past. The combination of sweet and salty isn’t new; chocolate-covered pretzels are a common example. But bacon’s particular type of taste, what Sprinkles Cupcakes refers to as “umami,” combined with sweet flavors is unique. The Republic of Bacon, a blog for bacon enthusiasts, lists 25 different bacon desserts, including chocolate-covered bacon, bacon candy, bacon cheesecake, and bacon ice cream.
A savory and often meaty taste, umami is one of the five basic tastes along with sweet, bitter, salty, and sour. Umami was first categorized as the fifth taste when the Japanese chemist Kikunae Ikeda ate a bowl of seaweed soup called dashi, and felt he couldn’t classify the savory taste in either salty or bitter.
The molecule behind the taste is glutamate, an amino acid that breaks down during fermentation of cheese or soy sauce or during the cooking of meat on a stove. It then turns into L-glutamate. Scientists discovered that humans do have a fifth taste and receptors for L-glutamate, confirming umami as a legitimate new taste. Other foods rich in umami include fish, cured meats, vegetables, and aged or fermented products. Beef, tomatoes, soy, and parmesan cheese are other examples of products that contain the umami taste.
Is Bacon Good For You?
With all these delicious bacon dessert options, many may question the health risks of eating too much bacon. Bacon contains saturated fat and plenty of protein. Too much bacon can contribute to cholesterol. Furthermore, the high levels of sodium and chemical preservatives found in processed meats like bacon and sausage tcould contribute to cancer and heart risks, one study noted. Unprocessed meats did not pose as much of a risk.
The key is to consume bacon in moderation. The American Heart Association suggests limiting saturated fat to less than 7 percent of your calories. A 2010 study published in the International Journal of Obesity found that eating fattier, high-protein foods like bacon and eggs is better in the mornings, since it gives your body the whole day to metabolize the calories for energy.
But eating some ice cream or cupcakes sprinkled with bacon bits on special occasions isn't the same as eating a serving of processed meats every day. The Sprinkles bakery cupcake will only be available between August 30 and September 15, but don’t worry — you can order them online.