Cupcake Hero: Rhubarb-Filled Yogurt Cupcakes for Mother Earth

April 30, 2008 at 5:55 pm | Posted in cupcakes, events, sweet things | 28 Comments

rhubarb-filled yogurt cupcakes

Kermit the Frog summed it up best when he sang, “It’s not easy being green.”  I tell ya, you want to buy organic products, but they’re nowhere near local.  You take your own tote bags to the grocery store, but you still have to practically wrestle the plastic ones out the the cashier’s hands.  You try to recycle as much as possible, but then your neighbor throws her baby’s dirty diapers into the plastics recycling bin (nice!).  And it’s expensive, even more so in Sydney than in New York.  You should see the amount of cazash I plonk down at the growers’ markets here ($27 for an organic chicken last week!), and the enviro-friendly cleaning products cost a small fortune.

What’s a little frog to do?  The best she can, I guess.  I’m happy to see that a lot of bloggers have gone green during April to celebrate Earth Day.  These may not be the most kid-friendly cupcakes, but I wanted to make something earthy, delicious and maybe even slightly healthy for Cupcake Hero‘s own celebration of the planet.  We all know that cupcakes make the world go ’round! 

These should be called “rhubarb-filled yogurt cupcakes with lemon butter icing and pistachios,” but that’s a little long, don’t cha think?  To make these, I used as many organic and/or local products I could.  The exceptions are the baking powder and baking soda (which I think exist in organic form, but I couldn’t find them at the health food store) and the icing sugar (which although not organic, and certainly not local, is unrefined).  The pistachios, lemon and rhubarb came from a local farmers’ market, and everything else from either the regular grocery store (which stocks a good range of organics) or the health food store.  None of these items even required a car ride…all were picked up within reasonable walking distance from my place.   And, while I am the first to admit that my giant collection of cupcake papers borders on the crazy, in efforts to make as little waste as possible, I baked these au naturel .

rhubarb-filled yogurt cupcakes

The cupcakes are delicious, moist and not too sweet.  Their brown color comes from Alter Eco’s organic ground cane sugar.  This is more like a soft brown sugar than a white granulated one.  The cupcakes domed a bit in the oven, which at first had me a little peeved, but then I used it to my advantage, as they appear to have a huge mound of frosting on top, but really the amount is quite modest. My favorite part is hidden inside–the rhubarb compote, which you can modify according to your own sweetness preference.  I made a big bunch, because whatever doesn’t get used in the cupcakes is amazing on top of oatmeal or with granola and yogurt.  The icing is so simple, and it is great with the rhubarb.  The refined icing sugar (I used Billington’s) is less harshly sweet, if you know what I mean, than regular powdered sugar and it is and a beautiful ivory color…I should always use this stuff.

rhubarb-filled yogurt cupcakes

Rhubarb-Filled Yogurt Cupcakes- makes 6 regular-size cupcakes

-Start by making and chilling the rhubarb compote (process below).

-Bake and cool the yogurt cupcakes (recipe below).

-If your pistachios have papery skins on them, blanche them for a minute in boiling water.  Drain them, and once cool enough to handle, slip off the skins.  Chop them roughly.

-Make the lemon butter icing.

-To fill the cooled cupcakes, use a small knife or round cookie cutter to cut a plug out of the center of each (going in from the top).  Save the top bit of each plug.  Fill each cavity with rhubarb compote.  Cover with the top bit so the filling is not exposed.

-Top with the icing and sprinkle on the chopped pistachios.

Rhubarb Compote
Note:  This is more of a process than a recipe, and can be adjusted depending upon the amount of rhubarb you have and how sweet you would like it to be.  I’d use at least 6 stalks, and any leftover compote is great on oatmeal or with yogurt.

-Trim off the tops and bottoms of each stalk of rhubarb.  Use a pairing knife to peel away any strings. Cut into 1-inch pieces. 

-Weigh the cut rhubarb.  Measure out sugar equal to 1/4 to 1/3 of the weight of the rhubarb, depending on how sweet you’d like it.  If you don’t have a scale, you can eyeball or use cup measurements.

-Put rhubarb pieces and sugar into a heavy-bottomed pot.  Add a small splash of water (just to keep the rhubarb from burning) and place over medium heat.  Stir frequently to keep from sticking to the bottom.

-Simmer for several minutes until the rhubarb releases its juice and the sugar is dissolved.  The rhubarb will soften and break down and the liquid should be reduced (although if you have an excessive amount, you can tip it out).  All this will probably take about 10 minutes, unless you are working with a very large quantity.

-Transfer to a container and chill.  This will keep for a week or two.

Yogurt Cupcakes- makes 6 regular-sized cupcakes
heavily modified from The 1997 Joy of Cooking

Note: I used salted butter in this recipe, as it is the only organic kind sold here (therefore, there is no added salt in the ingredients list).  If you are using unsalted butter, add a 1/4 t salt in with the dry ingredients.

1 c sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
2 1/2 T salted butter, room temperature
1/2 c sugar
1/2 egg (break egg into a cup, whisk it and pour out half)
1 egg white
1/2 t vanilla
1/2 c plain yogurt (full or nonfat), cool room temperature

 -Preheat the oven to 350°F/180°C and spray and flour six cavities of a muffin tin (or line with six paper cups). 

-Sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda.  Set aside.

-Beat the butter in a large mixing bowl until creamy.  Gradually add the sugar and beat until light in color and texture.  (The amount was too small for my stand mixer, so I did it by hand.  Handheld electric beaters would also work well.)

-Whisk together the 1/2 egg, egg white and vanilla.  Gradually beat into the butter/sugar mixture until thoroughly combined.

-Add the dry ingredients and yogurt in three parts, alternating and beating smooth after each addition. 

-Divide the batter in the tin, and cook for about 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool in the tins for a few minutes and then transfer to a rack to cool completely.  

Lemon Butter Icing- makes enough to generously frost 6 cupcakes
adapted from Everyday by Bill Granger

4 T butter (salted or unsalted), room temperature
3 3/4 oz powdered sugar, sifted
2 t lemon zest (finely grated)
2t lemon juice

-Beat the butter until very soft and white.  Beat in the powdered sugar, lemon zest and juice.  (You can adjust consistency with either extra powdered sugar or lemon juice.)

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28 Comments »

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  1. What a nice tribute to mother Earth!! I love pistachio in anything…makes it come alive. These cupcakes look GREAT!!

  2. Your photo of the cupcakes certainly caught my eye, its gorgeous! I especially the idea that you have provided a recipe for real life cooking, which makes six cupcakes instead of 6 dozen. Thank you.

  3. Unfortunately, it’s not easy nor cheap being green here in Brazil, either.
    These cupcakes look so fabulous, Steph!

  4. I will use any excuse to bake some cupcakes! But when they are all natural, that’s an added bonus. Rhubarb isn’t in my stores yet sadly, but maybe I could use some strawberry preserves in it’s place.

  5. super cute!!! i actually came across these a few days ago on your flickr account and figured they were for Hero. i just posted mine this morning…they tasted quite yummy. being green is fun!!

  6. These pictures are mind blowing! Great job!!

  7. We had such a rich meal tonight that I swore never to eat again, but your cupcakes might just change my mind. Wonderful.!

  8. ym, they look so good. I love the rhubarb filling and the pistachios look gorgeous

  9. Oh my those look incredible. I really dig the combination of ingredients. Very cool.

  10. good googa mooga, that ripped-open cupcake is stunning. what a great picture, all the way down to the reflection in the knife. you do good work, both in baking and taking pics! :)

  11. Your cupcakes look delectable and they’re “green” to boot! I love the idea of finding rhubarb compote in the middle, and my BF would go crazy for these!

  12. I’m singing little yum yum songs in my head while reading your post. Rhubarb? Pistachio? Hooked!

  13. I have a confession. I’ve never had rhubarb…ever.
    Growing up in Texas, the choices were often apple, cherry, peach, banana, fig, apricot, lemon…but never rhubarb.

    It’s on my “to make” list and this pictures are super motivating.
    Gorgeous!

  14. $27 for an organic chicken! That’s LUDACRIS!!!!!!!! I just realized I’m not sure how to spell that, how embarrassing. Anyway, here in Tennessee I only pay about $10 for an organic, free-range bird. I am so sorry! Anway, your cupcakes are gorgeous and look delicious and perfect!

  15. Ooohhh, very pretty! Great job!

  16. Ooh, I love cupcake hero time! And these look gorgeous; I love pistachios ^__^

  17. Adorable and very tasty sounding cupcakes! Steph, I left an award for you on my blog as well!

  18. I love this!! I’ve been dying to do something with rhubarb. This looks so great

  19. These cupcakes have made my heart go a-flutter! :)

  20. Gorgeous! Just got some rhubarb and this is a great idea:)

  21. oh. my. goodness!! these look delish! i absolutely cannot wait to get some rhubarb at the farmer’s market this weekend. i have a whole list of things i want to try out, and these lovelies will definitely be one of the treats!

  22. Mmm rhubarb! These look delicious!

  23. Oh gosh, what beautiful spring-y colors! These really look delicious…love how green the pistachios are.

  24. As always, your photogrpahy and dishes delight and amaze me!! You Make My Day!! :)

    http://daniellekathleen.blogspot.com/2008/05/you-make-my-day.html

  25. These sound fantastic and look so pretty, too!

  26. adorable cuppies! you know, i’ve never had rhubarb before!

  27. Fabulous combination and gorgeous cupcake!

  28. I made your rhubarb compote. Loved it!!!

    http://www.cupcakeproject.com/2008/07/rhubarb-compote-just-two-ingredients.html


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