Rhubarb Muffins With Rhubarb Frosting

Whisking Wolf
by Whisking Wolf
12 servings
30 min

Soft, fluffy muffins brimming with fresh rhubarb and iced with a pretty-in-pink frosting are simple, easy and oh so delicious. This one bowl recipe for Rhubarb Muffins with Rhubarb Frosting is sweet and tart and perfect for breakfast.

I admit that I was biased against rhubarb.

For the first twelve years of my existence I lived life based on a set of basic truths. The first was that rhubarb was basically a pink celery stalk and since celery is 95% water and 100% not good I was boycotting it for all eternity. The second was that I did not tolerate a bonafide vegetable disguising itself as a fruit in any form—not jam, not pie and especially not a freaking muffin.

But after a fateful afternoon with my friend, Erin, I found myself questioning everything I thought about rhubarb, the baking arts and the space-time continuum. Here’s what I remember first and foremost, walking into her kitchen and then being stopped in my tracks by a mouthwatering aroma. I knew the smell of baked sugar as soon as it hit my nose and it made me smile in anticipation.

That smile was soon wiped from my face when Erin’s mom offered me one of her freshly baked muffins. Check that; a rhubarb muffin. The nerve! I flat out refused but Mrs. McMahon insisted. I shook my head so vigorously that I got vertigo for a second. She held a muffin in front of my face in defiance. In short, we were at a baked good impasse.

Alas, she was the victor.

I caved to be polite, vowing to take just one teeny-tiny bite. A few crumbs for the sake of my friendship with Erin then it would all be over. I prepared for the worst, said a small prayer then peeled back the muffin liner. At last, it was now-or-never time. I sank my metal-braced teeth into the muffin and swear the next thing I knew I’d eaten the rest of the batch.

They were that amazing.

Let me put it this way: if the witch from Hansel and Gretel was baking rhubarb muffins in her corner of the spooky forest she wouldn’t even have had to coax me into her oven. I would’ve hopped in voluntarily then died happy next to my new favorite muffins.

Trust me, they are so delectable they border on bewitching.

Fast forward a few decades and I’m still under the spell of this recipe. Unfortunately, finding fresh cut rhubarb in my corner of Florida is about as easy as finding Waldo so when I do manage to get my hands on those pretty pink stalks I always buy in bulk and freeze for year-round muffin emergencies. Or any time I feel like eating my feelings.

Rhubarb Muffins With Rhubarb Frosting
Recipe details
  • 12  servings
  • Prep time: 15 Minutes Cook time: 15 Minutes Total time: 30 min
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Rhubarb Muffins
  • 1 cup light brown sugar packed
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg room temperature
  • 1 cup buttermilk room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla pure
  • 1 1/2 cups rhubarb diced small
  • 1/2 cup walnuts chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour unbleached
  • 1 tsp baking soda fresh
  • 1 tsp baking powder fresh
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt fine
Rhubarb Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 1 cup rhubarb chopped
  • 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 8 Tbsp unsalted butter room temperature
  • 8 ounces full fat cream cheese room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla pure
  • 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar packed
Rhubarb Muffins
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Add muffin liners to a standard tin and set aside.
Beat brown sugar, oil, egg, buttermilk and vanilla in a mixing bowl.
Stir in rhubarb and walnuts with a spoon until combined.
In a separate bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir with a spoon until just blended. Do not overmix.
Distribute batter evenly among muffin liners.
If you’d rather skip the icing, you can make a crumble topping by combining a tablespoon of melted butter, 3 tablespoons of brown sugar and a teaspoon of cinnamon.  Sprinkle on muffin tops prior to baking.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until muffins are golden brown and a tester placed in the center comes out clean.
Keeping the muffins in the pan, place on a wire rack to cool completely.
Frosting-free muffins can be stored at room temperature up to 3 days.
Store rhubarb cream cheese frosted muffins in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 3 days.
Muffins can be frozen up to 3 months if stored in an airtight container or freezer bag.
Rhubarb Frosting
Combine chopped rhubarb, sugar and a splash of water in a saucepan on medium low heat. Stir regularly until rhubarb reduces. Adjust heat to low and continue stirring for 20 minutes until rhubarb thickens into a jam.
Transfer rhubarb jam to a glass bowl and cool in the refrigerator.
Next, beat butter and cream cheese on high until creamy.
Add cooled rhubarb jam and vanilla to cream cheese mixture. Beat until combined.
Add powdered sugar ½ cup at a time and beat until smooth.
Once muffins have cooled completely, add frosting.
Freeze leftover rhubarb cream cheese frosting in a airtight container up to 3 months.
  • If you don’t have buttermilk, you can make a sour milk substitution by stirring one teaspoon of fresh lemon juice into one cup of whole milk and letting it set for five minutes before use.
  • Choose rhubarb that is a bright pink in color with fresh, non-wilted leaves. Since we’re only using the stalks for this recipe, trim and trash the leaves. Next, snap off the ends and wash the stalks. Finally, cut the stalks in half lengthwise and dice into ¼ inch pieces.
  • If you do not have fresh rhubarb then simply swap out with frozen. A few grocery stores carry it in the frozen fruit section so fill up your cart when you can find it. Fully thaw frozen stalks and pat excess moisture with a paper towel before baking.
  • Do not overmix the muffin batter. Mixing until just combined will produce the ideal, rounded tops on your rhubarb muffins.
  • If you want to skip the rhubarb cream cheese frosting then consider adding a crumble topping. Just combine a tablespoon of melted butter, 3 tablespoons of brown sugar and a teaspoon of cinnamon. Sprinkle on muffins prior to baking.
  • If your frosting isn’t pink enough from the rhubarb alone then you can bump up the color with a drop or two of red food coloring. I opted for an all-natural color enhancer then added two teaspoons of seedless raspberry jam.
Whisking Wolf
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