Ginger Cupcakes with Rhubarb Filling and Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting

Sunday, April 20, 2008

From the Cupcake Archives...

I still had quite a bit of rhubarb left after the last cupcake because I bought a crazy amount of it. I think you're starting to get just how much I truly love the stuff. Rhubarb is versatile, unique, has an interesting history, and if you don't know what you're doing could kill ya'. I want to pair it with blood orange some time, or maybe contrast it with mango or kiwi and see if something tropical would act as a good counterpoint to it.

However this cupcake was focused on some more traditional flavors. Rhubarb and ginger is a popular combo in England and for a while it dropped out of use, but it's starting to really make a comeback as chefs and restaurants are utilizing it for more and more for savory and sweet dishes (to any British readers, I'm just passing on what my friend in London told me). The spice of ginger pairs well with the tartness of the proud stalks, and when made into a blushing sweet compote creates a taste that's almost candy-like.

The rhubarb compote is rather strong so ginger was utilized in the cake, the frosting, and with presentation through candied ginger. The flavor was intensely gingery with that distinct pungent spice, perfectly counterbalanced by the sweet-tart colorful compote. I think ginger is a matter of taste though as I kind of wanted even more ginger flavor to come through and Rob wanted less. Play with it and see how you feel, the frosting is easy to alter in flavor so have fun with it. It's a refined cupcake for sure, I don't know if many children will like it; not that they'll dislike it, I think they would just cock their head to the side after a bite like a dog befuddled by a strange sound. All adults and hardcore food lovers out there will absolutely fall in love with this deliciously springtime pastry.

It's simple to make, easy on the pocket book, and fun to eat. Like most cupcakes, they taste better the nest day when flavors have a chance to marry. I look forward to future experiments with rhubarb. By the by, a special shout out to Elise for lending me that pastry kit and bags so I could practice my piping. (Update: Sorry, I just got the e-mails, the comments are enabled, my bad!)

Rhubarb Compote
What You'll Need...
2 1/2 cups of chopped rhubarb
3/4 cup of sugar

What You'll Do...
1) Mix the two together in a saucepan and let sit for about 15 minutes. Place on medium heat and stir occasionally, until the mixture is soft and the rhubarb has broken down a bit and has a soft pink color. Set aside to cool.
2) Drain the excess liquids before filling cupcakes, otherwise it will soak the cake.

Ginger Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes / 350 degree oven

What You'll Need...
1/4 cup of butter
1 cup of sugar
2 eggs
1 1/3 cup of flour
1 teaspoon soda
1 teaspoon powder
pinch of salt
1/2 cup of milk
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons of freshly grated ginger

What You'll Do...
1) Beat the butter for about 2 minutes until well creamed. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl halfway through.
2) Add the eggs one at a time and beat for 30 seconds each. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.
3) Mix in the grated ginger.
4) Combine flour, salt, baking powder, and ground ginger and sift together. Add some of the flour mixture, then some of the milk, alternating between dry-wet-dry and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix together until just combined.

5) Scoop into cupcake papers.
6) Bake for about 15-18 minutes. Cupcakes will be dense, heavy, and moist. A toothpick should still come out clean. Let cool on a wire rack.
7) Cut out a small cone out of the top of the cupcake and spoon in some of the rhubarb compote. Cut the cakey part of the cone off and pace the cap back on. Or eat the whole thing. Go with what moves ya'.

Ginger Cream Cheese Frosting
What You'll Need...
1/4 cup of butter (1/2 a stick), room temperature
4 oz of Philly cream cheese (1/2 package), room temperature
2 cups of powdered sugar
1-2 teaspoons ground ginger (taste as you go)
1 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger
candied ginger (optional)

What You'll Do...
1) Cream the butter and cream cheese together, about 3 minutes. Scraped down the sides and bottom.
2) Slowly add the powdered sugar. Add the vanilla to taste. Spread on cooled cupcakes. Decorated with chopped candied ginger.


  1. Definitely a special occasion cupcake this. I never quite got the whole craze about rhubarb until I was given some rhubarb muffins baked by a friend here some years ago. Used correctly they are delicious.

  2. It is funny that rhubarb is a craze now. We always had it growing in the backyard and I grew up picking it and eating it raw with just a sprinkle of salt.

    Mom always made rhubarb and strawberry pie..but I love these cupcakes!

  3. Garrett, why are you still using red celery for your cupcakes???

    Kidding, kidding of course. :) This cupcake looks very tasty.

  4. Garrett your cupcake fusion looks awesome! Ginger cupcakes and rhubarb and ginger cream cheese frosting, sounds so very springy and refreshing all the same! I so love your try with the pastry bag skills, looking good!!! You might outdo me now! ;0)

  5. Your cupcakes are just stunning.

  6. OMG, these look great! For the past two weeks, I've been dying to play with rhubarb -- I have to admit that I've never worked with it and this is the first year that I actually understand what it is :) (though I never thought of it as red celery...). Anyway, I've only seen small quantities of them at farmer's markets and stores in LA for like $4-5/lb or bunch, but once they get a little cheaper, I'm going to refer back to these rhubarb-in-cupcakes posts.

    At least to console myself, I made papaya-cashew-mango cupcakes w/ a $1.50 papaya, and a choc-rum glaze. :) Fresh fruit and vegetables in cake is a favorite thing of mine, and it's a lot of fun to read about what you're doing with them.

  7. Hi Garrett,

    This morning I wandered down to the Naschmarkt _especially_ to buy rhubarb and ginger powder. There is an incredible spice shop there, and I had the choice between regular zingy ginger powder or the very special smelling ingwerpfeffer pulver (which would roughly translate to superpepper-ginger-powder in German).

    The recipe has turned out incredibly well. I can't get baking soda here, so I used two teaspoons of baking powder instead and guessed that we also add half a cup of milk? The cupcakes taste fantastic and definitely will make a second appearance in the kitchen. Next time I am going to give this a shot with the gunpowder ginger!

  8. Delicious, just the thing for my rhubarb infatuated BF!

  9. I too love rhubarb, and if I weren't stuck preparing for my qualifying exam next week I'd rush out to the store right now and buy some rhubarb and make these. I've never had the rhubarb and ginger combination (in my house we usually just make rhubarb pie straight up -- none of that strawberry/rhubarb nonsense either!), but it's something I've been wanting to try. These cupcakes are definitely going to the top of things-to-make-when-I-can-crawl-out-of-my-hole-and-back-into-the-kitchen list.

  10. I LOVE flavoring desserts with ginger (my current favorite is a green tea and ginger ice cream). These cupcakes look exquisite!!

  11. what a great recipe. I've got to make these soon while rhubarb season is still in!!! Thanks for sharing.


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