Wednesday, June 8, 2011

rhubarb cupcakes with fresh whipped cream

I usually don't bake with dairy, but sometimes I've just had enough of using oil or margarine. Adding eggs really gives a cupcake a much lighter air. And, I just got this awesome new Martha Stewart Cookbook that is all cupcakes. I don't know why I'm on a cupcake fix. I'm not really even a big fan of them, maybe that's why I keep making them. I want to perfect the cupcake, or at least make it more interesting. And less sweet. This recipe calls for rhubarb, which is perfectly in season during these warm early summer months. Rhubarb has such a nice tart bite, similar to cranberry when cooked. It also calls for sour cream, which gives this cupcake a lovely airy shortcake-type texture, similar to a strawberry shortcake. The topping is heavy cream whipped with a bit of confectioners sugar to make a lightly sweet puffy whipped cream. I reduced a cup of rhubarb with sugar, water and scrapped vanilla bean to get those fancy specks of vanilla seeds for the topping. 

cupcake recipe: 

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup sour cream, room temperature
3 cups rhubarb, stalks trimmed and cut into 1/4 inch dice
1 vanilla bean, halved length-wise
1 cup water
whipped cream (recipe to follow)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line standard muffin tin with paper liners. Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. 

With an electric mixer at medium speed, cream butter and 1 cup sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla extract. Reduce speed to low.

Add flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the sour cream, and beating until combined after each. Stir in 2 cups diced rhubarb. 

Fill each cupcake liner with three-quarters full of batter. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until knife comes out clean when inserted in center of cupcake, about 25 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes.

To make rhubarb topping, use the tip of a paring knife to scrape vanilla bean seeds into a saucepan. Add the water and remaining one cup of sugar, and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat, and stir in remaining one cup of rhubarb. Let cool completely. Remove rhubarb with a slotted spoon, and reserve. Return liquid to a simmer, and cool until reduced by half, 5 to 8 minutes. Let cool slightly, then return rhubarb to syrup. Once cool, rhubarb can be refrigerated in syrup up to one week in an airtight container. 

recipe for whipped cream: 
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners sugar, sifted

Whisky heavy cream until soft peaks form. Add confectioners sugar, and whisk until combined. If not using immediately, whipped cream can be refrigerated, covered tightly, up to three hours in an airtight container. 

to assemble: 
Dollop a generous amount of whipped cream onto each cupcake, and top with rhubarb and some syrup. Serve immediately. 

Yields 16 cupcakes

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