If you’re looking for a special cupcake which is as delicious as it looks then you’ve come to the right place! Allow me to introduce you to this scrumptious rhubarb and strawberry curd filled cupcake topped with a swirl of marshmallowy Italian meringue.
Of course, there are a lot of cupcake recipes which can be described as special, but because this rhubarb and strawberry meringue cupcake is made with a couple of elements new to the Only Crumbs Remain kitchen, I may perhaps be a little biased in saying how special it is.
Now, I’ve intended on making a lemon meringue cupcake for some time now. I mean who doesn’t love lemon meringue! But when I read Kate’s raptures on Instagram, from Gluten Free Alchemist, about the rhubarb and strawberry combination I knew instantly that I needed to adjust the idea of a lemon filling in favour of this fabulously pink curd which tastes so incredibly amazing.
Seriously, if you’ve never tried rhubarb and strawberries together can I suggest you buy some this weekend and give it a try. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.
The second new element in these Rhubarb and Strawberry Meringue Cupcakes (or should that be Strawberry and Rhubarb) which was new to the Only Crumbs Remain kitchen was the Italian meringue. Over the years I’ve made the classic French meringue hundreds of times, and the Swiss meringue a few times too. But with a sugar thermometer in my possession it was time to try my hand at Italian meringue.
There’s no getting away from the fact that Italian meringue, which is cooked with the addition of a hot sugar syrup, needs a sugar thermometer. The one I’m loving at the moment is this silicone Thermospatula from Lakeland. Not only is it constructed as a spatula (though perhaps a little too rigid) which is great for moving ingredients around, for instance when tempering chocolate for these Hazelnut Noisette Chocolates, but it’s digital thermometer helps with accuracy and is perfect for making homemade fudge like this Coffee and Walnut Fudge or this Cherry and Almond Fudge.
The great thing about Italian meringue, other than being seriously marshmallowy and delicious, is that it doesn’t need to be baked in the oven. As mentioned already, the hot syrup cooks the egg whites for us, therefore making it safe for those in the community who may be vulnerable, like the elderly or those who may be convalescing. A quick flash with a cook’s blowtorch (or even a minute or two under the grill, like we did) provides a lovely toasted appearance which is very inviting.
Over the past couple of months I’ve been weighing the eggs for my Victoria sponge batters. It may sound as though I’m scratching my OCD itch a little too much by weighing them, but I’ve found I’ve been getting better results by doing so. As we know, Victoria sponge is made with equal quantities of the principal ingredients. Many recipes call for different sized eggs, and although we can buy varying sized eggs very easily from the supermarket these days, let’s face it there is still variation between say the large eggs. Plus as well most households will routinely buy their preferred sized each week rather than a half dozen of each size. By weighing the eggs first, you’re then able to weigh the sugar, butter and flour to the same value giving you the precise ratio!
So, here’s how to make Rhubarb & Strawberry Meringue Cupcakes!
pretty twist on the classic Lemon Meringue Pie. The slightly sharp curd
filling contrasts beautifully with the sweet marshmallowy Italian
Hands on time: about 60-70 mins Bake time: 20 – 23 mins Yield: 12 Cupcakes
12 x Muffin Sized Paper Cases
12 hole Muffin Baking Tray
Large Star Piping Nozzle
For the Sponge Batter (see note ‘a’ below)
- 200g Butter (unsalted & softened) or Margarine
- 200g Golden Caster Sugar (or white caster sugar if you prefer)
- Pinch Salt
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 4 Eggs, medium, lightly beaten
- 2 tbsp Milk
- 200g SR Flour
For the Rhubarb and Strawberry Curd
- 400 Fresh Rhubarb ( 3 – 4 stems)
- 220g Fresh Strawberries
- 1 Lemon, Juice of
- 2 tbsp Water
- 120g Caster Sugar
- 50g Unsalted Butter, cubed
- 3 Egg Yolks, medium
For the Italian Meringue
- 3 Egg Whites, medium
- 170g Caster Sugar
- 5 tbsp Water
To make the cupcake sponges
To make the rhubarb and strawberry curd. 4. Prepare the fruit. Wash the rhubarb. Trim the ends of the stalk and discard. Cut the rhubarb stems into pieces about 2cm long. Wash and hull the strawberries. Cut in half. Place the rhubarb and strawberry pieces into a heavy based pan with the water and lemon juice. Set on the hob over a medium heat. Allow the fruit to cook down, stirring frequently. Once the fruit is well cooked down strain it through a sieve into a good sized heat proof bowl. Use a spoon to stir the fruit mixture to encourage as much as possible to pass through the sieve. Discard the pulp.5. Make the curd. Put the sugar and cubed butter into the bowl with the fruit mixture. Set the bowl over a pan of water, ensuring the base of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Set over a medium heat. Allow the butter to melt and sugar to dissolve. You will hear and feel no granulations of sugar. Taste to ensure you are happy with the sweetness. Add a little more as necessary, allowing the sugar to dissolve before continuing with the curd. Turn the heat down to its lowest setting. Add the egg yolks to the mixture. Stir continuously until the curd has thickened. This will take at least 15 minutes. You should be able to draw a line through the curd on the back of the spoon without the curd trickling back into the traced line. Pour into a bowl and set aside to cool and thicken further. (see note c below.)
To make the Italian Meringue. 6. Prepare to make the meringue. Place the egg whites into a scrupulously clean bowl. A stand mixer would be useful, but if you only have electric beaters available sit the bowl on a tea towel or a couple of pieces of kitchen roll. This will prevent the bowl from moving around when adding the sugar syrup. 7. Make the sugar syrup. Place the sugar and water into a heavy based pan. Position the sugar thermometer in the pan, ensuring it’s not touching the base of the pan where it will take a false reading. Set the pan on the hob over a low heat to allow the sugar to dissolve. Once the sugar has dissolved increase the heat under the pan. You’re aiming for the sugar syrup to eventually reach 121℃ / 249℉. Once it’s reached 110℃ / 230℉ start to beat the egg whites into a meringue. You’re aiming for the egg whites to be thick and at stiff peak stage. Stop beating. 8. Add the sugar syrup to the meringue. Once the sugar syrup has reached 121℃ / 249℉ take the pan off the heat. Turn the beats onto the slowest setting. Slowly pour the sugar syrup onto the meringue. AVOID POURING ONTO THE BEATERS AS THIS IS LIKELY TO CAUSE THE SYRUP TO SPLASH BACK AT YOU! Once all of the syrup has been poured onto the meringue increase the speed of the beaters and continue beating for at least 5 minutes when the temperature of the meringue will have cooled and the meringue will be very thick and glossy.
Assemble the rhubarb & strawberry meringue cupcakes. 9. Begin to assemble. Use a small paring knife to cut a cone from the top of each cupcake. (Alternatively use the wide end of a large metal piping nozzle and twist to remove a plug of sponge.) Use the tines of a fork to gently remove a little more sponge if necessary. Add one or two teaspoons of curd to the hollow, though avoid over filling. 10. Top with Italian meringue. Fit the large star nozzle to the piping bag. Half fill the bag with meringue. Pipe a generous swirl of meringue on top of the cupcakes. (You will need to refill the piping bag at some point). Either use a cook’s blow torch to carefully colour the meringue. Alternatively use the grill. (see note d below) . 11. Enjoy!
a) When making the cupcake batter, consider weighing the cracked eggs first to ensure the batter has equal weight of butter, sugar, flour and eggs. Simply weigh the butter, sugar and flour to the same weight as the eggs. Of course the value may be slightly different to the 200g listed in the ingredients above. b) Consider warming your lightly beaten eggs over a bain marie especially if they feel particularly cold. Warm them until they feel luke warm. This should help prevent the batter from curdling and produce a better cupcake sponge. c) The curd will cool faster in a large shallow bowl, like a pasta bowl. d) If using the grill, like we did, pre-heat it and position the grill pan in the centre of the oven so the cupcakes aren’t too near the grill element. Place the decorated cupcakes under the grill for 1 – 2 minutes allowing the Italian meringue to colour, you may need to rotate them after just a minute. They will colour very quickly. e) Any left over curd can be covered and stored in the fridge for spreading on toast or in a sandwich, for instance. f) If you prefer use a shop bought rhubarb jam.