Martha Stewart Cupcake Calendar: Meringue Cupcakes with Strawberry Rhubarb and Creme Fraiche

So I have about 9 days to catch ya’ll up on the Martha Stewart Cupcake Challenge.  I have completed the May cupcake and June will be forthcoming!  I must say, May’s cupcake was a bit of a disappointment.  It photographs well – dramatic, billowy meringues drenched in red strawberry rhubarb dripping down the side.  Unfortunately, they weren’t my favorite.  All the components are fine but overall, it wasn’t my jam.

I have a few complaints that I would like to log with the management (Martha Stewart’s empire).  First off, finding rhubarb in the northeast in May is an impossibility, something one would think our dear Martha would understand since she lives in New England.  So, even though I wasn’t in a position to make these in May, it would have been too impractical anyway.  Also, strawberries aren’t even in season in the south in May, much less up here so I am not sure what she was thinking with that.   Second, if the directions say the meringues might crack, assume they will.

The cupcakes are easy enough, whip a bunch of egg whites and throw in the oven for 3 hours or so.  Meanwhile, whip this strawberry rhubarb concoction together and throw in the fridge.  Make a green smoothie, wonder why you went to bed so late the night before and ask what happened to your life.  Snap out of your reverie, hit the stop button on the incessant beeping of the kitchen timer, worry that the meringues are too done, then debate whether they need more oven time.

I thought the meringues were way too sweet.  The creme fraiche saves the dish because it has no sugar added and if I were to do this again (which I won’t), I would cut the sugar in the compote too.  Really, just make the compote and serve on ice cream, pound cake, pancakes, in a bowl or in a pie.

Meringue Cupcakes with Strawberry Rhubarb and Creme Fraiche
by Martha Stewart
makes 12

Ingredients
Vegetable oil cooking spray, for baking cups
6 large egg whites, room temperature
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup creme fraiche
1/2 cup heavy cream

Directions

1.  Preheat oven to 225.  Line every other cup of 2 nonstick 12-cup muffin time with baking cups; coat with cooking spraw.  With a mixer on medium-high speed, whisk egg whites, vinegar, vanilla, and salt until frothy.  Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating for 2 minutes after each addition and scraping bowl to make sure all sugar dissolves.  Beat until stiff, glossy peaks form.

2. Transfer meringue to a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip, and pipe into lined cups so meringuue is about 2 inches above rims, finishing with a peak in the centers.  Bake until meringues are just beginning to color and are completely dry on the outside but still soft in the middle (a toothpick inserted at base of top, through the side, should have moist but cooked crumbs attached), 3 to 3 1/4 hours, rotating tins halfway through.  Remove from oven, immediately remove rom tins, and peel off liners.  Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

3.  Just before serving, whisk together creme fraiche and heavy cream until soft peaks form.  Using a serrated knife, gently slice tops off cupcakes (don’t worry if they crack).  Spoon compote and then cream onto bottom halves, and replace tops.  Serve immediately.

Strawberry-Rhubarb Compote

Ingredients
10 oz (2 cups) fresh strawberries, rinsed, hulled, chopped
1/4 cup plus 1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
10 oz trimmed rhubarb, cut into 1/4-inch pieces (about 2 3/4 cups)
2 tablespoons water

Directions

1.  Stif strawberries, 1/4 cup sugar, and lemon juice in a small nonreactive pan; bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Cook, stirring often, until softened, about 3 minutes.  Remmove strawberries; place in a bowl and let cool.  Set aside pan with strawberry liquid.

2. Meanwhile, in another small pan over medium-low heat, combine rhubarb, remaining 1/3 cup sugar and the water.  Simmer gently, stirring often, until sugar is dissolved and rhubarb is almost tender, about 6 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer rhubarb to bowl with strawberries.  Add strawberry liquid to pan.

3. Raise heat to medium and simmer until thickened and reduced to 1/2 cup, about 10 minutes.  Let cook.  Stir into strawberry-rhubarb mixture.

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