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Rhubarb Muffins with Almond Streusel Topping

June 22, 2013

My dad grows rhubarb in his garden and he’ll periodically bring me a bunch or two when it starts to get too large. I am always excited to receive it! Rhubarb is definitely under-appreciated as vegetables go, probably in part due to poor preparation. Raw rhubarb stalks are incredibly tart, and if they’re very thick, they can also be fibrous near the base. These factors are certainly challenges to work with, but if you peel the bases of the thickest stalks and temper the tartness with the right amount of sugar (but not too much!), rhubarb has an awesome fruity flavor that can really shine in a lot of different dishes.

As much as I love rhubarb fools, this time I was itching to try something different, something that didn’t involve cooking the rhubarb down. While I was browsing through back issues of Saveur online, I came across these muffins. Rhubarb in muffins? Definitely fit my criteria of something different! I was fairly surprised that the rhubarb is added to the muffin batter raw; it seemed like it wouldn’t lose its tartness and would stay too crunchy. But I figured they had tested the recipe and probably knew what they were talking about, so I added the rhubarb raw as written! And the recipe writers were correct: the rhubarb softened enough and turned sweet during baking, similar to blueberry muffins. Enough of the tartness remained to nicely complement the sweetness of the streusel topping. Overall a great success! Gave one to my dad as a thanks for the rhubarb and he said it looked and tasted like it was from a professional bakery. Thanks, Dad! :)

Rhubarb muffins with streusel topping

Makes about 18 muffins

Ingredients

Streusel:

  • 1/2  cup flour
  • 1/2  cup sugar
  • 2  tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2  teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2  teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon almond extract
  • 4  tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1/2  cup chopped almonds

Muffins:

  • 3  cups flour, plus more for pan
  • 2  teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2  teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon baking soda
  • 1  cup sour cream
  • 1  cup sugar
  • 1/2  cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2  cup canola oil
  • 2  eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1  teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 12  ounces rhubarb (about 2 medium stalks), cut into ¼-inch pieces

Directions

  1. Make the streusel: Whisk together flour, both sugars, zest, salt, and extract in a small bowl. Add butter, and using your fingers, rub into almond mixture until smooth and large clumps form. Stir in almonds and transfer to refrigerator; chill until ready to use.
  2. Make the muffins: Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour muffin pans; set aside. Whisk together 2¾ cups flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl; set aside. In another bowl, whisk together sour cream, both sugars, oil, eggs, and vanilla; pour mixture over dry ingredients and whisk until just combined. In a small bowl, toss remaining flour with rhubarb until evenly coated, and then stir into batter.
  3. Place about 1/3 cup batter in each muffin cup. Break streusel up into medium-sized clumps, and sprinkle evenly over muffins. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle of each muffin comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

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