Rhubarb Cardamom Lime Muffins

Rhubarb Cardamom Lime Muffins Fresh from the Oven

One of these fine days I will get around to posting my thoughts about and basic formula for The Perfect Muffin. If you have my cookbook, Pacific Northwest Palate: Four Seasons of Great Cooking, the discussion is on page 249. But for now, I just want to get this wonderful new muffin recipe to you.

If you are following @LunaCafe on Twitter, you know that the OtherWorldly Kitchen is overflowing with rhubarb. It’s everywhere! Open frig one and it falls out on you. Open frig two and you get the same. Perhaps I should start freezing some of this bounty, eh?

Rhubarb Cardamom Lime Muffins Mise-en-Place

If you are keen on rhubarb too, you might want to check out our Rhubarb Primer, which includes a list of all the rhubarb recipes I have developed thus far. I love watching this list grow each spring and early summer. So far this year, I posted Apple Cider-Brined Tenderloin of Pork with Rhubarb Deglazing Sauce and Spring Rhubarb & Apple Crisp with Toasted Hazelnut Streusel.

However, I also developed recipes for Goat Cheese Panna Cotta with Rhubarb Syrup & Basil Syrup, Rhubarb Margarita with Rhubarb-Infused Silver Tequila, Rhubarb Lemon-Lime Cooler, Rhubarb Strawberry Sorbet with Candied Orange Zest, Rhubarb Ginger Sauce, Rhubarb, Ginger, & Chile Chutney, and Rhubarb & Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake. I’m afraid rhubarb season will be over before I have time to post all of these.

Rhubarb Cardamom Lime Muffins Ready to Bake

But I couldn’t move on to strawberries and blueberries without at least sharing these fabulous muffins with you. MauiJim says they are the best he has ever eaten. I wish I could have captured an audio clip of his little murmurings as he was eating the first one.

We devoured the entire batch over a few days. And the remarkable thing was that they were as good on day three (with a 20-second refresh in the microwave) as on day one. That just isn’t typical of muffins, as you surely know.

Rhubarb Cardamom Lime Muffin Interior View

Rhubarb Cardamom Lime Muffins

Muffins don’t get any better than this. The texture is tender and open, with sweet/tart rhubarb goodness throughout. Plus, there is just something magical about the combination of cardamom, lime, and rhubarb.

To balance the tart bursts of rhubarb on the palate, the caramelized streusel topping is a must. Don’t even think about leaving it out.

Rhubarb Mixture
1½ cups ½-inch diced rhubarb (about 7 ounces, 1 medium-size, trimmed rhubarb stalk)
¼ cup sugar
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
finely grated zest of 1 large lime

Streusel Topping
¾ cup King Arthur unbleached, all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
½ cup brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter, very cold, cut into 32 pieces

Muffin Batter
2 cups King Arthurs unbleached, all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ cup sugar
1 large egg
8 tablespoons melted butter, cooled slightly
2/3 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
1/3 cup milk

  1. To make the rhubarb mixture, in a mixing bowl, combine the rhubarb, sugar, cardamom, cloves and lime zest. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and let macerate for at least 30 minutes. Mixture should appear very juicy when maceration is complete.
  2. To make the streusel topping, in a small mixing bowl, add the dry ingredients, and cut in the butter until mixture is evenly crumbly. (Alternatively, you can beat the butter and sugars with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, and then quickly mix in the remaining ingredients.) Reserve for a moment.
  3. To make the muffin batter, in a large mixing bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and then add sugar. Whisk thoroughly to distribute the chemical leaveners. Reserve for a moment.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk the egg briefly, and then whisk in the melted butter, Greek yogurt, and milk.
  5. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients, and stir quickly and gently with a large, flexible rubber spatula just to evenly moisten. The batter should still be lumpy.
  6. Lightly spray a traditional 12-unit muffin or mini popover pan with vegetable spray.
  7. Divide the batter among the cups, letting the batter mound naturally. The cups should be nearly full.
  8. Sprinkle the streusel topping on top of each muffin and then press it down lightly into the batter (so that it doesn’t fall off during baking). You may have a small amount of streusel topping left over. You can bake it separately and use as in ice cream topping if you wish.
  9. Bake immediately at 400° for about 20-25 minutes. Internal temperature of the muffins will register 190º when fully baked.

Makes 12 regular-size muffins.



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  1. says

    I still haven’t managed to snag any rhubarb yet this season, but I adore both cardamom and muffins and I would top everything in the world with streusel (maybe except for pot roast) if given a chance , so this recipe has to be wonderful in my humble estimation. I’m going to call you “Susan, the rhubarb queen” from now on.
    Laura recently posted…Provencal Vegetable Soup au PistouMy Profile

    • says

      Laura, some people who shall go unnamed call me Swamp Boogie Queen but Rhubarb Boogie Queen has a nice ring too. :-) P.S. Well of course you should put streusel on pot roast and accompany with a rhubarb deglazing sauce. :-)

  2. says

    You are really going with that rhubarb-cardamon combination, looks like another winner! I think I may need to go look up your Perfect Muffin guide. My ‘problem’ with baking is that I try to make the recipe more and more healthy– and there’s only so much substituting in of applesauce, whole grains, and so forth that a recipe can take. But I’ll push that boundary and then back off if I need to.
    Mary (Fit and Fed) recently posted…Food Processor Pizza Dough with White Whole Wheat FlourMy Profile

  3. says

    I’ve been craving these lately after making them last year, but I can’t find rhubarb anywhere! I feel like I’m in some sort of twilight zone where these muffins are hanging in the vortex, at a tantalizing distance just in front of me where I can taste them but can’t have them!!
    I am eager to see what I think of them now. Last year I found the texture immaculate, and thought the flavors clashed in a dance, instead of a fusion, which intrigued me to no end.
    Lorna at Knits for Life recently posted…Customer request- OySpaceMan! Menswear Beanie sans scarfMy Profile

    • Susan S. Bradley says

      Lorna, LOL! I have been craving these muffins lately as well, and I have a ton of fresh rhubarb in the frig. The flavor pairing is exquisite in my opinion, and very distinctive. I crave it actually.

  4. Audrey says

    My sister made these muffins months ago and I just can’t stop thinking about them. They are my new favorite! She used fresh white cardamom when baking and I think I will do the same. Simply delicious. Thanks for such a wonderful recipe!!!

  5. Ashley says

    These were PERFECT. As some of my taste testers remarked: “the most refreshing muffin I’ve ever had.” Thanks so much!

  6. KarenC says

    I followed this recipe exactly, the topping melted all over the top of the muffin tin and ran together, even after gently pusing it down into the batter. Next time I will use jumbo muffin cups to hole the topping in. They taste great, look awful.

    • sms bradley says

      Hmmm…It sounds like the butter in the streusel topping melted too fast. The streusel should have held together on top of the muffin. Next time, make sure the butter and resulting streusel is kept very cold while you make the muffin batter. You can also decrease the butter in the streusel by up to 2 tablespoons, which will make a firmer topping. That said, I tested this recipe twice and it worked as stated on both ocassions. I’ll be on the lookout for this in future tests. Good luck!

  7. says

    I made these last night and they are quite possibly the best thing I have ever baked. I got busy with the baby and the rhubarb mixture macerated for about an hour or so, really, but it was just so juicy in the muffins. I’m going to make this as much as I can. Also, the recipe was surprisingly easy for a cooking novice like me. For someone who completely bombed boxed mix cupcakes a few weeks ago, I was scared to ruin these because they looked so good… but they came out more perfect than I could have ever imagined!

    • sms bradley says

      Karen, your words are music to my ears! I work very hard to make sure each recipe will work for folks EXACTLY as described. I’m thrilled with your success. And thank you so much for sharing this. :-)

  8. AJ says

    I saw your image of these yummy muffins on Tastespotting and had to give them a try. Oh my goodness, they are so totally delicious. Thank you soooo much.

    • sms bradley says

      Thank you! :-) You will see me use lime in a lot of dishes. It combines so well with so many other flavors and really provides a boost.

    • sms bradley says

      LOL! Well, it wasn’t so funny at the time. I really need to get a bigger frig.:-) Thanks so much!

  9. Emily says

    While these look fantastic, I was really disappointed to read the recipe and see that it calls for TWO STICKS of butter for 12 muffins. It seems to me its not hard to make muffins that stay moist on day three with essentially 20 grams of fat per muffin!

    • sms bradley says

      It’s the streusel topping that is adding an additional cube of butter. So 1 cube of butter is sufficient to keep the muffins moist, although I think the rhubarb is playing a significant role here as well. I developed recipes for many years for Cooking Light Magazine and created “pretty good” muffins with much less butter. But they require a different formula altogether. This particular recipe will taste too tart for most folks without the topping. You could however, leave the topping off and increase the sugar in the muffin somewhat instead.

    • sms bradley says

      Thanks so much Kate! Now you have tempted my with your lwemon poppy seed muffins. Must check those out right now. :-)

    • sms bradley says

      Thanks so much! :-) Luckily, these muffins require less than 1 stalk of rhubarb. Hope you can try them.

    • sms bradley says

      Thanks so much! :-) I know — it’s wonderful! I’m almost dreading the start of strawberry season as I know I’ll have to move on. Rhubarb is so distinctive and so much fun to work with. Want to push my culinary envelope more on this front. Growers say that we will see rhubarb in the farmers markets until fall however. Just like last year. Awesome.


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