Strawberry Rhubarb Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream

I love the strawberry and rhubarb combination. Love it. However, I hadn’t had it in years. In fact, until recently I’d only had it a few times in my life at all! I never had rhubarb growing up, and didn’t even know what it looked like until I moved to the UK right after graduating college. C and I were living about a mile from his parents during that time, and we would visit them every other Sunday for dinner. His mom cooked the traditional English Sunday dinner, including meat of some sort (a roast, usually), vegetables (brussel sprouts and carrots were some of my favorites!), and potatoes prepared in at least two ways (boiled, roasted, mashed, you name it). In addition, she always made dessert, again usually something traditionally English. I got to try so many things that I’d never had before, some of which I’d never even heard of! My favorites, though, were her rice pudding (I still to this day cannot replicate it; she bakes it, and it is not the usual creamy substance that you think of when you consider rice pudding. It is more….solid?…and you can serve it with some milk or cream poured over it; no matter how many times I make it, it never comes out like hers!) and her rhubarb crumble. So, so good. I raved about it so much, in fact, that she bought me rhubarb for myself and taught me how to prepare it (and not to eat the leaves…those are poisonous, you know!).

Annnnnnyway. I started tweeting about finding rhubarb locally a few weeks ago, and got into a Twitter conversation about it with Terri (@lovenconfection), Angie (@bigbearswife), and Christine (@CookTheStory). I finally packed H into the car and headed to Whole Foods a few days later in search of some. I’d come up with a recipe idea and I was determined to try it out. Lo and behold, I found rhubarb at Whole Foods! Woohoo! But folks…that stuff was not cheap! I was surprised at how heavy it was when it came to pay for it, but luckily I bought the perfect amount for my dozen cupcakes and the topping.

I wanted to combine rhubarb and strawberry for the traditional aspect of the flavors, but instead of a crumble decided to create a cupcake. Even though rhubarb is fairly tart on its own, I felt like the addition of lemon to the dessert would make it even better (and in my opinion, it totally did!). The cake part of this cupcake is very dense; I wanted it to be able to hold up to the chunks of strawberry and rhubarb throughout without falling apart when you take a bite. If you prefer a lighter cake, you could easily substitute your favorite yellow or lemon cake recipe and just stir in the fruit at the end. There is lemon juice and zest in the cake itself, and then it is topped with a simple but delicious lemon buttercream frosting. I left a hole in the center of the frosting, though, so that I could add an extra touch and top the cupcakes with a strawberry rhubarb compote. It just adds that extra tang and cuts through the sugar in the buttercream.

Recipe:
Strawberry Rhubarb Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream & Strawberry Rhubarb Compote
Makes 1 dozen cupcakes

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

1 cup sugar
1 stick butter
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup sour cream
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tbsp flour
1 cup rhubarb, diced
1 cup strawberries, diced
zest of one lemon
2 tbsp lemon juice

For the lemon buttercream:

2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 stick butter, softened
zest and juice of two lemons
yellow food coloring (optional)

For the compote:

1 cup strawberries, diced
1 cup rhubarb, diced
2 tbsp water
2 tbsp powdered sugar

Directions:

For the cupcakes:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Put liners into cupcake pan.
2. In a small bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups of the flour, the salt, and the baking powder. Stir with a fork to aerate and break up any lumps.
3. In a separate bowl, using a mixer on medium low speed, cream the butter and sugar until combined and lightened in color.
4. Add the vanilla and the eggs, one at a time, mixing until combined.
5. Add the sour cream and mix just until no more white streaks show.
6. Gradually add the flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, until fully combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl if needed.
7. Mix in the lemon zest and juice.
8. In another small bowl (or the same one you mixed the flour in!), stir the diced strawberries and rhubarb with the remaining 2 tbsp of flour. This will help keep the fruit from sinking to the bottom of the cupcakes while baking.
9. Stir in the fruit by hand.
10. Divide the batter evenly in the lined cupcake pan.
11. Bake for 20-24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

For the lemon buttercream:

1. Using an electric mixer on medium to medium-high speed, cream the butter until lightened in color, about two minutes.
2. Gradually add the powdered sugar, about 1/2 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly with each addition. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.
3. Mix in the lemon zest and juice.
4. If desired, add yellow food coloring (I used 8 drops of yellow gel coloring).
Note: If the frosting is too thick for your liking, you can add a tablespoon or two of whole milk to thin it out.

For the compote:

1. In a medium saucepan on medium low heat, combine the diced fruit, water, and powdered sugar and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
2. Heat until the mixture is thickened and has reached your desired consistency, about 15-20 minutes.
3. Cool at room temperature and then store in the refrigerator until used.

Note: When decorating the cupcakes, I used a large star tip to pipe two circles of frosting on each cupcake, then stored them in the refrigerator for a couple of hours so that the frosting would firm up before spooning the compote into the center.

These cupcakes seriously scream summer to me, and I hope you enjoy them as much as we did at our house!

Red Velvet Cupcakes – Recipe

Updated with new photos on February 13, 2012

I know this isn’t a new post, but there are several forthcoming! However, with Valentine’s Day just around the corner (okay, it’s tomorrow…yikes!) and everything red velvet popping up all over the place, I wanted to share the Red Velvet Cupcakes that I made for C’s “Cupid & Cupcakes” event at work since they came out so cute (if I do say so myself!). This is SUCH an easy recipe, and they turn out absolutely fantastic every time. I never get a chance to try out new cupcake flavors on C’s co-workers anymore because they are always requesting these ones!

I frosted these using a disposable pastry bag and a large star tip, then pressed an unwrapped Hershey’s kiss in the center and sprinkled them with both red and pink colored sugar.

C found me these adorable cupcake papers at Target; they are red with colored hearts around the sides, and on the bottom they say “Be Mine.” Hard to see in these photos, but they are super cute, trust me!

If you end up making these for your valentine (or for any other reason!) I’d love to hear how they turn out! The recipes for both the cupcakes and the cream cheese frosting are in my original post below.

Originally posted on Blogger on July 24, 2011

I made red velvet cupcakes last weekend for my 1000 Cooks for the Cure Party (well, I attempted to make pink velvet cupcakes, actually…they came out as more fuschia-ish in the end…but I used my normal red velvet recipe for them), and I was going to include all of my party recipes in one post, but then realized that would have ended up being the world’s longest post. Sooooo we’re breaking it down.
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Pineapple Upside Down Cupcakes (plus an announcement of sorts)

Originally posted on Blogger on September 1, 2011

 I’ve been neglecting this little blog of mine like it is nobody’s business lately, and I hate that. I love this space, and I love writing here, so being as absent as I have been has killed me. Unfortunately, life has just gotten in the way. Luckily, it’s been for good reason! For those of you that don’t know already, I let out my big secret last week: I’m pregnant! Eek! C and I are super thrilled and cannot wait for March 13th (or whatever day around that time that this little guy/girl decides to show up) to get here. What does this have to do with me slacking on my blog? Well…I’ve been so freakin’ tired that all I’ve done for the past month or so is go to work, go home, go to bed, lather, rinse, repeat! Oh, and finish up my school work for the semester.

Finally, though, now that the second trimester is about to show its happy, smiling (we’re hoping, anyway!) face, I seem to have a bit of energy back. I have been cooking and baking, I just haven’t had the time to blog about it, so I am so excited to start sharing my recent adventures with you! And with that, I’ve decided to start by sharing my recipe for pineapple upside down cupcakes with you.

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Key Lime Cupcakes

Originally posted on Blogger on May 16, 2011

When the key lime tree growing in a pot in front of our house is bursting with fruit like it is right now, it means only one thing to me: time to make key lime cupcakes! This year I’ve got all sorts of other key lime ideas (key lime tiramisu, key lime cookies, key lime pie, key lime ice cream, the possibilities are endless!), but I had to start with my classic favorite cupcakes. These cupcakes aren’t difficult to make, but they are definitely a bit time-consuming. I’ve had some health issues this year that have kept me from baking as often as I like due to mobility problems, so now that I am feeling better most days I have been itching to get back in there. This recipe is great for that because of the different steps; they took me two days to finish this time, but I got to rest in between. Plus, they are totally worth waiting for, if I do say so myself (and I do).

I made this recipe up because the key lime cupcakes I had had from various bakeries and found in various cookbooks just weren’t…key-lime-y…enough for me. I like a seriously tart dessert with tons of delicious citrus flavor, so I was intent on infusing every part of this treat with some lime component. I started with my favorite yellow cake recipe, taken from Cupcakes! and adapted it slightly by using a bit less sugar and adding a generous amount of key lime zest to the batter. Elinor’s recipe is so great in part because it uses only oil as the fat, no butter, so it can be used last minute instead of having to wait for butter to soften. The first time I made it I worried it would have an effect on the cake but they always, always come out moist and delicious. So, I start by making regular sized cupcakes, adding the key lime zest to the batter at the very end. Using an ice cream scoop sprayed with cooking spray, I divvy the batter up in the cupcake pans and pop them in the oven.

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