Bacon and #CheatDay are pretty much synonymous, no? We think so. That’s why there’s no better way to celebrate this weekly indulgence than with the all-around fan favorite. It seems to go with everything (dates, pizza, Brussels sprouts, you name it), so you better believe it’s also a great addition to our breakfast muffins.

These piggie muffins are filled with the cheese and — you guessed it — bacon, and baked until warm and golden brown. Just don’t expect leftovers with these guys.

Piggie Muffins with Caramelized Bacon
(Makes 12 servings)

Ingredients
For Caramelized Bacon:
1 pound sliced bacon (thick cut is best, but regular will do)
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
Generous amount of fresh ground black pepper (optional)

For Piggie Muffins:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1⁄8 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
6 ounces grated smoked Cheddar cheese (about 11⁄2 cups)
6 slices caramelized bacon, broken into 1⁄4″ pieces (see above for ingredients)
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs, at room temperature
1⁄4 cup melted unsalted butter

Directions
For Caramelized Bacon:
1. Place oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400°F, using the convection setting if you have that option. Line two heavy, rimmed baking pans with foil or parchment paper.
2. Separate the bacon strips and place in a single layer on the pans. They can touch but shouldn’t overlap. Sprinkle each pan with half the sugar. Give each pan a generous grinding of black pepper, if using. Gently pat the sugar onto the bacon so it’s evenly coated.
3. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the bacon is crisp. The sugar will melt and spread, so you don’t have to turn the bacon over during baking. However, if you don’t have a convection oven, you will want to rotate the pans halfway through cooking to ensure even baking. The bacon is done when the sugar is melted and bubbly and the bacon looks dark brown but not burned.
4. Remove the pans from the oven. Transfer individual slices to a rack set over paper towels to absorb any drips. When the bacon cools, the sugar will harden to a thin, hard-candy coating. Eat, use in a recipe immediately, or store in the refrigerator in a resealable plastic bag between layers of parchment paper for no longer than 3 days.

For Piggie Muffins:
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pepper. Add the cheese and bacon and toss to coat evenly.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, and butter. Pour over the flour mixture and stir until just blended. The batter will be thick, almost scone-like.
4. Spoon evenly into the lined muffin cups. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the muffin pan on a rack for 5 minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove the muffins from the pan. Eat while still warm, with or without butter.
5. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. To rewarm, split and pop under the broiler until golden. Microwaving will make them soggy.

Adapted from The Messy Baker