One thing that really makes muffins and coffee cakes of all types extra special good is a sweet and crunchy streusel topping. These fluffy vanilla rhubarb cupcakes are topped with a swirl of cream cheese frosting, drizzled with poached rhubarb and then sprinkled with some crunchy, spicy, baked streusel.
The simple addition of Chinese 5-spice powder makes for a delicious aromatic streusel. Five spice powder combines Chinese cinnamon with anise, cloves, ginger and fennel in a delicious balance that complements rhubarb, coaxing out more of its natural aroma. Adding pepita seeds and baking the crumble separately, creates a special crunchier topping.
The basic streusel is very versatile in that it can be customized to your personal preferences or what you have on hand. Here are a few suggestions:
- Use 2 cups flour OR 1 cup rolled oats * 3/4 cup whole-grain flour * 3/4 cup cookie or cracker crumbs
- Use 3/4 cup sugar OR 3/4 cup brown sugar * 1/2 cup raw sugar * 1/2 cup maple syrup
- Use 1 cup butter OR 1 cup brown butter * 1/2 cup nut/seed butter * 1/4 cup coconut oil * 1/4 cup oil or sesame oil
- Add-Ins .. 1 cup coconut flakes or nuts * spices & zests * 1/2 cup toasted seeds * 1/2 cup cocoa powder or wheat germ
I realize, this is a lot of steps for just a cupcake, but I think you’ll love them.
Crunchy Streusel Rhubarb Cupcakes
Sour Cream Rhubarb Cupcakes
Preheat oven to 425 F. Line 9 muffin cups with large paper cups.
Wash rhubarb & trim ends. Cut rhubarb into a 1/4-inch dice. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt & cinnamon. Set aside.
In another bowl, whisk together sugars, eggs, sour cream, melted butter, vanilla & orange zest. Add the wet ingredients to the flour mixture. Stir until the flour is fully incorporated. Do not over-mix. Fold in rhubarb. The batter will be thick. Scoop the batter into 9 muffin cups, evenly distributing batter.
Bake for 7 minutes. After 7 minutes, decrease the oven temperature to 350 F. & bake for another 12 - 15 minutes or until cupcakes test done. Remove from oven & cool completely on a wire rack.
Place rhubarb, water, sugar, food coloring (if using) & cardamom in a saucepan. Simmer very gently for about 3-5 minutes or until rhubarb is soft but NOT mushy! Put a strainer on top of a bowl. Pour mixture into strainer & put the rhubarb pieces in another dish to cool. Pour the liquid back into the saucepan & let simmer until slightly thickened, about 5-10 minutes. Pour into a bowl to let cool. Gently combine rhubarb & syrup.
Pepita 5-Spice Streusel
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Using a wooden spoon, stir until incorporated. Using your fingers, form fine crumbs. Spread the crumbs on a small cookie sheet and bake on a rack in the middle of the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until light golden brown.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely to room temperature. Crumble with fingers.
Beat butter until pale. Add powdered sugar & beat until smooth & pale, about 1 minute. Add softened cream cheese & ginger; beat until smooth.
Fill a piping bag fitted with a large round nozzle with frosting. Top each cupcake with a dollop of frosting then using a spoon, create a well in each dollop. Spoon a bit of poached rhubarb inside of each well. Sprinkle with pepita streusel.