With the end of the spring season comes the final stalks of ruby-hued rhubarb—a vegetable I absolutely adore for its distinct tartness, its ability to marry well with a host of other ingredients, and its status as a truly seasonal food (you’d have a quite difficult time attempting to track down a bundle of the red beauties during the summer, fall, and winter months, even in supermarkets that import produce from all over the place). Rhubarb originated around 2700 BCE, when medicinally minded Chinese fold prized the plant for its purgative qualities. Marco Polo earns the glory of having popularized rhubarb in Europe in the 17th century, while an anonymous gardener in Maine first planted the veggie in America about a century later. While the stalks of rhubarb boast generous amounts of vitamin C and calcium, the leaves contain a high concentration of oxalates, which can cause a quite unfortunate bodily reaction analogous to heavy metal poisoning. The moral of the story? Don’t toss rhubarb leaves into your morning green smoothie.
Far from blending up rhubarb with a frozen banana and soy milk for breakfast, I instead opted to craft what turned out as my most successful baked good recipe to date. The notion of baking up a deliciously moist coffee cake has festered in my psyche for quite some time now, and I finally decided to transform the poor entrapped idea into a delectable reality, rendered even more mouthwatering by the addition of a caramelized rhubarb compote and a bubbly, golden, maca-infused topping. For this recipe, I drew inspiration from both Laura’s Vanilla Stewed Rhubarb and The Urban Vegan’s Rhubarb-Maca Coffee Cake. Implementing a variation on Laura’s recipe as an integral layer in a de-glutenized, de-sugarified, and de-palm-oiled (all Earth Balance butters contain the wholly unethical ingredient) version of The Urban Vegan’s original cake. The fusion of these two recipes resulted in an impeccably moist cake base topped with a mahogany-hued, sweetly tart mess of rhubarb mingling with a sticky, truly caramel-like mixture—a nourishing yet decadent-tasting muffin perfect to swoon over at any time of day (I’ve already had one as part of my breakfast, lunch, and dinner today). Basically, if you haven’t already picked up on the take-away message of this banter, I’d wholeheartedly encourage you to venture into the nearest kitchen (I don’t even care if it’s your own) and whip up a batch of these muffins immediately. Hey, who knew rhubarb could inspire such gastronomic enlightenment?
Rhubarb-Cardamom Coffee Cake Muffins with Gooey Caramel Topping—Can be Soy Free, Nut Free, Low Sodium, Low Fat
Makes 8 muffins.
Ingredients for the Rhubarb Compote:
4 stalks of rhubarb, diced
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup coconut nectar or maple syrup
1/4 tsp cardamom
1 tsp vanilla extract
Ingredients for the Cake:
1/3 cup GF oat flour (make your own by pulsing GF oats in a spice grinder)
1/3 cup buckwheat flour
1/3 cup arrowroot powder
1 tbsp flaxseed meal
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp maca powder
6 tbsp date paste (about 5 medjool dates pureed with 1/2 cup water)
1 tbsp coconut nectar or maple syrup
2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup plant-based milk
Ingredients for the Gooey Caramel Topping:
2 tbsp GF oat flour
1 tbsp GF oats
2 tbsp coconut nectar or maple syrup
1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
1/2 tbsp maca powder
1/4 tsp cardamom
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly oil eight tins of a muffin pan.
In a small saucepan, combine all of the rhubarb compote ingredients and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 7-10 minutes, or until the rhubarb has broken down and almost all of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from the heat and set aside.
For the cake, in a medium-sized bowl combine the oat flour through maca powder. In a separate smaller bowl, whisk together the date paste through milk. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until well-combined. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the gooey caramel topping. Set aside.
Fill each of the muffin tins about halfway with the cake batter. Spoon a dollop of the rhubarb compote on top, then finish off the muffins with a sprinkling of the gooey caramel topping. Bake the muffins for 20 minutes and allow to cool in the pan for at least 5 minutes before
stuffing into your face all at once enjoying.
Until next time, Ali.