Before we talk about important things like cupcakes, some things have been happening lately:
1. I graduated! Technically in December, but in April I flew back to Provo to walk at BYU's commencement and convocation. Gosh I missed Provo. It was surreal being back there. Everything was the same and familiar, but different too because life keeps on going for everyone still there. Somebody different lives in our old apartment and somebody else is studying in my favorite chair in the Brimhall. I was on the verge of tears all weekend because I couldn't believe that this part of my life was coming to a close. The best part of my life so far (I'm still deciding how I feel about the med school part), very officially done with. I'm grateful for it and can't believe that I was lucky enough to attend BYU. It was the best thing to ever happen to me (I met my best friends, my husband, and received a world class education).
2. Christian officially finished his first year of medical school at the U of R. Can you believe it?! What a whirlwind of a year it has been. It's had plenty ups and plenty downs as well, and I can't get over the fact that he is 1/4 of the way done! I wish there was a way to say how proud I am of him, but I don't think anything can really do it justice. He is the most incredible man on the planet so there's that.
3. Chin also left yesterday to go to Officer Training. I don't know if I've shared it here on the blog or not, but Chin is doing medical school through an Air Force scholarship. Basically, they pay for medical school, and at the end of residency he'll be an AF doctor for 4 years before he can go into private practice. I was worried at first, but the prospect of potentially living overseas while he does his payback makes it seem like a pretty good deal to me. So anyways, he's off to Officer Training in Alabama for the month of June, while I'm here in Rochester. I'm terrified of him leaving because we've had enough time apart this year (e.g. a whole semester) but I'll make do. Lady and I will stick together.
And finally, let's talk about cupcakes. One of my absolute favorite parts about our tiny little house is our backyard. We have a nice, secluded chunk of lawn (front and back!) that's surrounded by pine trees. We borrowed my parents' fire pit for the summer and have a nice patio set, with lights strung along the back of the house, making our yard ideal for dinners outside and weekend gatherings. I just love how cozy it feels. I also love that we have plants! It sounds silly, but we have a beautiful rhododendron bush as well as new pumpkin plants, rose bushes, hydrangea, lavender, and best of all, a rhubarb plant.
Our rhubarb plant was HUGE this year, and consequently I was able to make these cupcakes with fresh rhubarb straight from the garden. And they were divine. Chin dubbed them as his favorite cupcakes I've ever made, and that was without the frosting on them. They're thick and dense (my favorite type of cake) and have a perfect tang, tempered slightly by some sweet sugar and butter.
The frosting is the perfect compliment. Fresh, sweet, and smooth, you can really taste both the rhubarb and the strawberry, a divine combination for summer.
I made these pretty in pink cupcakes for the last Med School Wives Club get together of the season (we'll all be off in different directions for summer), and I loved how girly they were. I didn't take any pictures with my real camera, so iphone pictures will have to suffice for now!
Rhubarb Cupcakes with Fresh Strawberry Buttercream
Adapted from Kitchen Konfidence and Martha Stewart
For the stewed rhubarb:
3 cups fresh rhubarb, ends trimmed and diced
1 cup water
3 tbsp. sugar
For the cupcakes:
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, room temperature
1 cup plus 2 tbsp. sugar
2 large eggs
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/3 cup milk
In a medium saucepan, combine rhubarb, water, and 3 tbsp. sugar over medium heat. Stew, stirring occasionally, until rhubarb starts to soften and breakdown, and the mixture starts to boil, about 7-8 minutes. Pour the mixture into a clean bowl with a fine mesh strainer or small colander. Discard of the rhubarb juice in the bowl, and transfer the stewed rhubarb into the bowl that previously held the juice. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350 and line a 12-well cupcake pan with liners. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until well incorporated, scraping down the bowl as needed. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder, and ginger. With the mixer on low, pour in half of the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated. Then add the milk, followed by the rest of the flour mixture. Mix until just combined. Gently fold the stewed rhubarb into the batter. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pan, about 2/3 full for each cupcake well. Bake for 22-24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer cupcakes to a cooling rack and let cool completely.
For the strawberry buttercream:
1/2 cup fresh strawberries*
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, firm and slightly cold
Pinch of coarse salt
4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Place strawberries in a food processor or blender, and blend until completely pureed. Set aside. Meanwhile, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and salt on medium speed until light and fluffy. Turn mixer to low speed and slowly add the powdered sugar, beating until combined. Add 3 tbsp. of the strawberry puree and the vanilla, beating until combined, but be careful not to over mix to avoid the mixture becoming to airy. Frost the cooled cupcakes and enjoy!
*You could use frozen strawberries that have been thawed, but fresh are best in my opinion.