June 26, 2013

Bear Essentials: Rhubarb
( + Rhubarb Muffins with Almond Streusel )

The first time I had a rhubarb muffin was in Charleston, South Carolina.  It was a beautiful spring morning, and Mr. Bear was recovering from a very rough night.

We were in town for a week, and 'round about night number five we booked ourselves into a walking tour called The Dark Side of Charleston.  This was billed as a historical tour covering the seedier side of Charleston: grisly murders, brothels, piracy and crime.  

But really it was mostly about hookers.

Now, there's nothing wrong with hookers.  They're enterprising gals, and historically speaking, people seem to find them very entertaining.  And a tour about them (as it turns out) teaches you many valuable lessons, such as:

  • How to tell if your exorbitantly expensive hotel used to be a brothel by examining its decorative ironwork,
  • How to make your own period-correct portable mattress if you're not lucky enough to work for a nice brothel with decorative ironwork,
  • How to inexpensively create your own contraceptives using a citrus fruit that I will never really feel the same way about again, and
  • The importance of keeping your pants within eyeshot when passing time with your lady of the night.

And it's not that we didn't enjoy the tour, because we really did.

But Mr. Bear was expecting daring tales of piracy and Prohibition.  And instead he ended up the only male in a group tour on prostitution, which:

  • included a rather rambunctious group of ladies who were clearly on a bachelorette's weekend,
  • was led by the only woman I have ever met for whom the first descriptive word that sprang to my mind was "bawdy," and
  • meant that everyone turned to stare at him every time the guide mentioned johns, the foibles of men in general, or the size of male genitalia (which came up even more often than you might think).  Plus, every time our bawdy guide described a particularly depraved bit of trivia, she'd elbow him in the ribs and guffaw "But you know all about that, don'cha?"

Needless to say, it was the best night of my life.  Because if there's anything I love more than old-timey prostitution stories, it's watching my husband being jovially humiliated by a Melissa McCarthy lookalike with a head full of hooker trivia.

Have you ever seen a man slowly blush to death?  It's awesome.

So the next morning, when he asked to order the pastry basket from room service, I didn't argue.  It seemed like he'd earned it.  And when he offered me half of an excellent rhubarb muffin while I was doing my eyeliner, I knew that was more than I deserved.  And when I came out of the bathroom and found that the other two muffins had already disappeared, I kept my mouth shut.

Even when I realized the only muffin left was citrus-flavored.

Rhubarb Muffins with Almond Streusel
barely adapted from Saveur

These muffins are fairly dense and cakey, with tons of fruit and a heap of almond-flavored streusel that is out of this world.  They are best in the first few days after baking, as the streusel will soften over time. 

Flour  [ 1/4 cup ]
Sugar  [ 1/4 cup ]
Light Brown Sugar  [ packed, 1 tablespoon ]
Lemon Zest  [ 1/4 teaspoon ]
Kosher Salt  [ 1/4 teaspoon ]
Almond Extract  [ 1/8 teaspoon ]
Unsalted Butter  [ 2 tablespoons, cut into cubes ]
Almonds  [ chopped, 1/4 cup ]

Flour  [ 1 1/2 cups ]
Baking Powder  [ 1 teaspoon ]
Kosher Salt  [ 1/4 teaspoon ]
Baking Soda  [ 1/8 teaspoon ]
Sour Cream  [ 1/2 cup ]
Sugar  [ 1/2 cup ]
Light Brown Sugar  [ packed, 1/4 cup ]
Vegetable Oil  [ 1/4 cup ]
Egg  [ 1, lightly beaten ]
Vanilla Bean  [ 1/2, sliced open and seeds scraped out and reserved ]
Rhubarb  [ 6 ounces, cut into 1/4-inch pieces ]

Make Streusel:
1.   In a small bowl, whisk together Flour, Sugar, Brown Sugar, Zest, Salt, and Almond Extract.
2.   Mix in Butter cubes and smear into dry mixture with fingers until everything is thoroughly mixed and 
         large chunks are formed.
3.   Stir in Almonds.
4.   Place Streusel in refrigerator.

Make Muffins:
5.   Heat oven to 350 degrees.
6.   Line a muffin pan with muffin liners.
7.   In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 cup plus 6 tablespoons of the Flour, the Baking Powder, Salt
        and Baking Soda.
8.   In a second bowl, whisk together Sour Cream, Sugar, Brown Sugar, Oil, Egg, and Vanilla Seeds.
9.   Whisk dry and wet mixtures together just until combined.
10.   In a small bowl, toss Rhubarb with remaining 2 tablespoons of the Flour.
11.   Gently mix Rhubarb into Batter.
12.   Spoon Batter into muffin cups.
13.   Sprinkle Streusel over Muffins.
14.   Bake until Muffins are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of one comes out clean.

Makes about 10 muffins.     

This time last year on Being a Bear:
Sourwood Honey Salted Caramels

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