Have you noticed how many cupcake shops have popped up in the past five years? I have loved baking ever since I was little. My true love for the art came in my first Home Economic class in sixth grade. True to any first year Home Ec. class, you learn a plethora of introductory level crafts. I still remember learning plastic canvas, where I made a tissue box cover of penguins designed for my mom, due to her love of the cute little creatures. But seriously, although my mom heaped words of praise upon my creation–do we really need tissue box covers lining the aisles of Goodwill (a lost craft that should remain lost)?
I made a pillow cover, did at home projects of our choice, created various items in the kitchen & decided that I would undertake the largest size duffle bag (think body bag) while all my peers were a bit more sensible & chose the smallest one. Little did I know that the duffle bag scenario would be a metaphor for my life.
Biting off more than I can chew. My vision of what I can accomplish and what I will actually tackle are two different notions. But in some ways, I like how this transfers to my baking. I’m all for simple desserts & baked goods; however, I plain ole’ love creating something a bit more time consuming to have a wonderful end product. Sometimes this is hard with some of my perfectionist sensitivities, because I would rather not attempt something & fail than attempt it at all.
It reminds me of the pie crust portion of Home Econonics. Mrs. Haile, my teacher, showed us how to cut the butter into the flour, add just a little ice cold water, lightly combine it, chill, roll & transfer to the pie plate. This terrified me. The idea of transferring to have it split, crack, tear or crumble did not look appealing in the slightest. And although I had Kitchenaid mixer on my wish list since 11 years old, it wasn’t until I was 20 years old that I began to overcome my fear of the pie crust and make pie after pie.
I’ve realized that baking is like that (as well as cooking). We all have flops. In fact, as I was making this recipe, I was trying to make Neoclassic Buttercream (cook the sugar, add said sugar mixture to egg yolks, mix & mix, cool, add butter). What was the end result–pieces of chewy sugar/caramel dispersed throughout a 1/2 pound of butter. Sad yes–defeated no. I will go back and tackle it again, same as the pie crust. Do I make a perfect pie crust with no flaws? No. Julia Child approached the culinary arts with embracing the flaws & going with it. That’s how I began to see the pie crust and so many other baking adventures.
But, when we do have monumental food successes–they make up for the 1/2 pound of butter that got ruined (actually–I’m going to use it for some frosting still), flavorless muffins, or burnt dinner. So, as with the advent of the cupcake shops, culinary triumphs & 2+hours of baking with a 5 second eating party–meet the cupcake who will convert even the die hard chocolate lover.
I am utterly, head over heals, infatuated-crazy about these cupcakes. The melding of the lime cupcake with the tang of the rhubarb sauce, sweetness of the strawberry puree and creamy, richness of the cream cheese frosting (laced with strawberry puree) makes for a complete flavor profile in a dessert. I’m not fond of using the word “best” when talking about food on a blog. However, I’m about to break that vow right now as these cupcakes are absolutely superb. Dare I say it, “the best.” They’re knock your socks off good. If you have time to spare–you need to make these. But, I’m warning you if you do, you might not ever be able to eat a “so-so” cupcake again. Just saying:)
Rhubarb-Strawberry Filled Lime Cupcake & Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting (printable recipe)
The cupcake has been changed from a cupcake base found in Rose’s Heavenly Cakes Cookbook, which is a white cupcake & I have changed it to a lime cupcake. If you don’t have a scale, then I would highly recommend investing in one; as it will make your baked items a step up. I used cake flour, as it has a lower protein content versus all-purpose. This being said, you can use all-purpose with the amount in parenthesis below. You can make the cupcake the day before and assemble them the next day. More information on rhubarb is found here.
The total capacity of the liquid should measure 2/3 cup. Measure the milk to 1/2 cup and the rest should be lime juice.
- 3 large egg whites (90 grams), room temperature
- 1/2 cup (120 grams) whole milk
- a little less than 1/4 cup (40 grams) lime juice, 2 limes
- 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 cups (1 3/4 cup if using unbleached all-purpose flour) sifted into the cup & leveled off (200 grams) cake flour
- 1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 to 1 1/2 Tb lime zest, zest of 2 limes
- 2 1/4 plus 1/8 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter (65 to 75 degrees)
Preheat the oven: Line 14 to 16 cupcake liners in a muffin tin and set aside. Preheat oven to 350.
Mix the liquids: In a small bowl, whisk the egg whites, 3 tablespoons of the milk and vanilla until lightly combined.
Make the batter: In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, lime zest, and salt on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the butter and the remaining milk & lime juice on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1 1/2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Starting on medium-low speed, gradually add the egg mixture in two parts, beating on medium speed for 30 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients & strengthen the structure. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Scoop batter into the lined muffin tin (it should weigh about 1.7 ounces/50 grams) filling about 3/4 full. Smooth the surface evenly with a small metal spatula.
Bake the cupcakes: Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean and the cupcakes spring back when pressed lightly in the centers.
Cool the cupcakes: Let the cupcakes cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove them from the pans and set them on a wire rack. Cool completely.
- 2 cups rhubarb, 1/4 inch slices
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup turbinado sugar
Directions: Throw the chopped rhubarb, water & sugar in a small pot over medium heat. Stir every now & again. Allow it to cook down until it resembles chunky applesauce (except rhubarb). Pour into a bowl and set aside.
- 2/3 cup hulled strawberries, cleaned
Put the hulled strawberries into a food processor and puree until no more chunks appear. Pour into a bowl and set aside.
Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
Side note: I process the butter & cream cheese in a food processor, until thoroughly combined. Then, I added 1 cup of powdered sugar along with the strawberry puree and processed again (10 seconds). I ended up putting it all in the stand mixer, added one more cup of powdered sugar & mixed on medium speed, until it was all combined.
- 4 ounces cream cheese
- 2 Tb unsalted butter
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 2 Tb strawberry puree
Put the butter & cream cheese in an electric mixer medium speed for 1 minute. Add strawberry puree and mix on medium until blended. Add one cup powdered sugar & mix for 30 seconds. Add an additional 3/4 cup to 1 cup of powdered sugar. The frosting shouldn’t be too thick, but not ultra runny.
Assemble the Cupcakes:
- Take the cupcake and cut out a cone from the center of each. Go here for instructions on this method.
- Remove the cone & cut off the bottom half (the pointed end) and save the top half (eat the bottom half).
- Put 1 teaspoon of rhubarb sauce in the cut out portion of the cupcake. Put 1/8-1/4 tsp of strawberry puree on top of rhubarb sauce.
- Place the top part of the cone back on top of the sauce & puree. Press down gently, just enough to avoid the filling coming out.
- Either pipe the frosting on top to cover the cut out area or spoon it on top.