Wednesday 22 September 2010

Rhubarb cupcakes with brown sugar mascarpone frosting

There are so many different uses for homemade mascarpone: you could use it in tiramisu, stir it through pasta with lemon zest and pine nuts, serve it on top of stewed fruit.

But I wanted something special for my very first batch of mascarpone.  I wanted to put the creamy delectableness on centre stage, celebrate the triumph of making my very first batch of cheese.

So I decided to make Rhubarb cupcakes with brown sugar mascarpone frosting.

These rhubarb cupcakes use pretty much the same recipe as the rhubarb, earl grey & vanilla rose cakes I made a couple weeks back but minus the earl grey and amping up the vanilla.  I think it's my cupcake du jour - delicate, seasonal and so so tasty.  I love biting into the tart chunks of bright pink rhubarb encased in soft cake perfumed with vanilla.  Man, it's good!

The frosting is an adaptation of the brown sugar cream cheese frosting that I made in a hurry a while back.  I loved that slight caramelly flavour the brown sugar gives the frosting and thought it would be a perfect showcase for the mascarpone.

And oh my, this mascarpone frosting is heavenly.

It's light and ethereal and disappears in a puff of creamy sweetness in your mouth.  It's like eating a caramel scented cloud.  Divine.

The special occasion was C's second big bro's 30th birthday sushi lunch.  Instead of making a birthday cake I thought we could have birthday cupcakes.  The only spanner in the works was that the mixture didn't stretch to 30 cupcakes...but no one seemed to mind!  Light and fruity, the cupcakes were a perfect dessert when you've just pigged out on loads of DIY sushi.


Rhubarb cupcakes with brown sugar mascarpone frosting

Rhubarb cupcakes

adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe

Makes 24

1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
 2 tsp vanilla essence
125 g unsalted butter, softened
1 cup caster sugar
3 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
3 cups rhubarb (~400g), diced to around 0.5-1 cm pieces

1. Preheat oven to 180oC.  Line two 12 cup muffin tins with cupcake papers.

2.  Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together. 

3. In a large bowl, cream butter for around a minute until really fluffy.  Add half the sugar and beat for around 1 minute.  Add the rest of the sugar and beat for another 1 minute.  Add eggs 1 at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Add vanilla and mix well.

4. Add a third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture.  Beat until just incorporated.  Add half the sour cream and beat until just mixed.  Add another third of the flour etc until all the flour and sour cream have been mixed in.

5. Stir in the rhubarb. 

6. Fill the cupcake wrappers 3/4 way full.  Bake for 25 minutes or until skewer comes out clean.  Remove the cupcakes from the tin immediately and cool on a wire rack.   Pipe on frosting only when the cupcakes are completely cool - or else you will have brown sugar mascarpone sauce not frosting!

Brown Sugar Mascarpone Frosting

enough for 24 cupcakes (and lots of "tasting"!)

250g mascarpone cheese (at room temperature, homemade if you are feeling adventurous!)
1 cup soft brown sugar
3 Tbsp corn flour
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 1/2 cups cream
100g unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 tsp vanilla

1. Whisk brown sugar, icing sugar and cornflour together.  Make sure you get rid of as many lumps as you can.  You might have to get in there with your fingers.

2. Cream butter and mascarpone for 1-2 mins until really fluffy.  Add vanilla and beat well.

3. Add sugar mixture and beat on high while adding the cream half a cup at a time.

4. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before frosting.  Keep cupcakes in a cool place.

Nifty trick: Put chilly bin ice blocks in the bottom of your cupcake carrier to keep your cupcakes cool when travelling (ingenious tip thought up by my momma!)


  1. This combination of rhubarb and brown sugar has me drooling! Can't wait to test these out!

  2. Rhubarb cupcakes! that sounds intriguing. Your photos are too adorable :P

  3. I love that you made your own mascarpone. This looks great combined with rhubarb! Yumm!

  4. oh wow. love the flavors. your pictures are gorgeous.

  5. Peggy: It's totally a magic combo....can't believe I didn't think of it earlier! I am tempted to use brown sugar for everything now!

    Mel: Aw thanks Mel you are so sweet! Love it when rhubarb is cheap. Heard its pretty easy to grow too...may have to see if I have a green thumb or not!

    Joudie: Thanks Joudie! It's such a cool experience to wake up and see that your bowl of cream from last night has miraculously turned into mascarpone. I can totally see how cheese making is addictive :)

    Lora: Thanks heaps! I had a mare with the lighting in these photos. Think I gotta get me a tripod! :)

  6. I'm about to get some rhubarb split off from a friend -- they are going great guns at the moment! Looking forward to making these when I get the growing.

    You should try homemade ricotta next :)

  7. Teresa: Lucky! I've heard that once rhubarb get going they're pretty robust. Imagine being able to pop out and grab some home grown rhubarb from your backyard. Too. Cool. Would love to grow some in our garden once it looks less like a jungle. Ricotta is so on the to make list next! Thanks for stopping by :)

  8. The recipe for the frosting never says when to add the mascarpone. I just got to the end and realized. Trying to add it in, I ended up with broken frosting, with chunks of fat. I am so sad. Where does the mascarpone go?

    1. Hi there, I am so sorry it was left out!! Can't believe I hadn't picked it up until now. I usually add the mascarpone in with the butter. The mascarpone should have come together if you beat it on high at the end but might have split if it was cold? Very sorry again, and thank you so much for letting me know. Have updated the recipe now.

    2. Thanks for the update so quickly! I'm making another batch tomorrow night and would love to give it another try. (Despite what it looks like, it tastes awesome.) I have it in the freezer now. The Internet says beating it cold might bring it all back together, so here's hoping.



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