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Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

13 March 2011

I wanted to bake something for my girlfriend this weekend and she loves lemon desserts (just like me :)), especially lemon meringue pie. But I didn’t want to make plain-old lemon meringue pie or tarts. And then it hit me. Lemon meringue cupcakes! I would make lemon cupcakes, fill them with lemon curd and top them with meringue! I thought it was genius. And…it turns out…it’s been done many times before. Oh well…at least I came up with it myself.

On to the cupcakes. Mine didn’t turn out that great, unfortunately. But if you follow the directions correctly, your cupcakes should turn out fine. I happened to overwork the cupcake batter and my lemon curd didn’t set :(. At least I was able to master the meringue! Also, my cupcake cups were a bit small and my mixer kinda sucks big time. Oh the mixer…it took me an hour to find everything because SOMEONE decided to hide one of the beaters in the pantry and stick the power curd under a bucket…my family does strange things. I was pretty annoyed after that but I persevered! Unfortunately, by the time I was done it was dark out and I couldn’t use natural light for my pictures…sigh*

Enough of this jabbering and on to the recipe.

Here’s what you’re gonna need:

Cupcakes (adapted from Joy of Baking):

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), softened
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • the zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

Lemon Curd (adapted from Alton Brown):

  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • the zest of 2 lemons
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

‘Italian Meringue’ icing (from Martha Stewart):

  • 3 egg whites, room temp.
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tbsp light corn syrup

How to make it:

1. Preheat your oven to 350°F.
2. Cream the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla, lemon zest and lemon juice.
3. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
4. Alternatively add the flour mix and milk. If you’re using a mixer do this on low speed and if you’re doing it by hand, use a spatula. Make sure you mix the batter JUST until it combines. Don’t overwork it.

5. Bake in muffin cups for 18 to 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool completely.

I overworked the batter so my cupcakes turned out small and dense.

*My eggs were REALLY orange so the cupcakes turned out very yellow. The lemon zest probably contributes too.

Lemon Curd:
1. In a small saucepan, simmer 1 inch of water over medium high heat.
2. Combine the yolks and sugar in a metal bowl and whisk until smooth (about 1 min).
3. Add the lemon juice and zest. Whisk to incorporate.

The curd mixture before it's cooked.

4. Reduce the heat on the water to low so it’s just simmering and place the bowl on the saucepan. Whisk until the mixture has thickened (takes about 8 minutes). You can test it by dipping a spoon in and running your finger down the spoon. If the line drawn stays, it has thickened enough.
5. Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter a piece at a time, allowing each to melt in before adding the next.

The curd after its been cooked and the butter has been stirred in.

6. Refrigerate and allow to cool completely. It will thicken up a lot once it cools.

Meringue (7-minute icing):
1. Combine the sugar, water and corn syrup in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Monitor the temperature with a candy thermometer. If necessary, stir occasionally so the sugar dissolves. Continue to heat until it reaches about 230°F.
2. Meanwhile, whisk the egg whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks reached.
3. Once the sugar has reached 230°F, remove it from the heat. On medium-low speed, pour the syrup into the mixing bowl in a very slow, steady stream (the hot syrup cooks the egg whites so that the meringue is safe to eat as is). Whisk until cool and stiff peaks have been reached (about 7 minutes).

Putting it all together:
1. Cut a narrow hole in each cupcake with a short knife or melon baller (not all the way to the bottom). Pipe the lemon curd into the hole and spread a thin layer on the top of the cupcake.
2. With a star-tip, pipe the meringue onto each cupcake. Lightly brown with a kitchen torch. Enjoy!

I wish mine had turned out perfectly, but they still tasted good. If you have leftover lemon curd you can spread it on toast! It’s delicious. Extra meringue can be made into cookies. Just pipe it onto parchment paper on a baking sheet and bake at 200°F (or lower if you prefer) for about 2 hours, or until crisp and allow them to dry out in the oven after you turn it off. OOH, you could even spread the lemon curd on the meringue cookies and make sandwiches! Oh the possibilities!

Yields: 12 cupcakes
Time: 2 hours (or more, depending on the time it takes to cool things)

One Comment leave one →
  1. 13 March 2011 9:52 am

    I hate it when I come up with a good idea and then I find out someone else has already thought of it! Lol, but your cupcake still came out super cute!

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