Even though I don’t like to feel ruled by what is “in season,” sometimes I can’t help but embrace it. Winter citrus feels like a gift from Mother Nature to bring some sunshine to the dreary cold months. When it never really gets bright out, and I’m in the wintery doldrums, something bright, sunny and tangy seems like the perfect thing.
I’ve been dying to make these cupcakes for ages. Given that I just adore lemon meringue pie, these seemed right up my alley. It always appeared that I was one or two kitchen tools short to sucessfully attempt these. Even when I got a kitchen torch for toasting the meringue, I didn’t think I’d have much luck with 7-minute frosting without a stand mixer. So- now that the citrus is plentiful, and my kitchen tools are fully stocked, it seemed like just the time to try them!
I’ve made versions of this buttermilk-lemon cake before, and its wonderful. After that, a tart lemon curd is slathered on top and they are frosted with a fluffy, cloud-like 7 minute frosting. A little toasting from a kitchen torch adds that perfect touch reminiscient of the classic pie. If you want an over-the-top lemon flavor, core a little bit of the cake out and fill the cakes with lemon curd as well. I liked both variations, depending on how much lip-puckering tartness I feel like.
Lemon Meringue Cupcakes
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons, about 1 1/2 tablespoons, plus 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
8 large egg yolks
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice, about 3 lemons
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is until incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in zest and vanilla.
Add flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk and lemon juice, and beating until just combined after each.
Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until golden brown and a cake tester inserted in centers comes out clean, about 25 minutes.
Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.
To finish, spread or fill lemon curd onto/into the middle of each cupcake. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large open-star tip with frosting. Pipe frosting onto each cupcake, swirling tip slightly and releasing as you pull up to form a peak. Hold a small kitchen torch 3 to 4 inches from surface of frosting, and wave it back and forth until frosting is lightly browned all over. Serve immediately.
Combine yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar in a heavy-bottom saucepan; whisk to combine.
Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon (be sure to scrape the sides of the pan), until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, 8 to 10 minutes, and registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.
Remove saucepan from heat. Add salt and butter, one piece at a time, stirring until smooth.
Strain through a fine sieve into a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled and set, at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.
Combine 3/4 cup sugar with the water and corn syrup in a small saucepan; clip a candy thermometer to side of pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Continue boiling, without stirring, until syrup reaches 230 degrees.
Meanwhile, in the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk egg whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. With mixer running, add remaining 1 tablespoon sugar, beating to combine.
As soon as sugar syrup reaches 230 degrees, remove from heat. With mixer on medium-low speed, pour syrup down side of bowl in a slow, steady stream. Raise speed to medium-high; whisk until mixture is completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl) and stiff (but not dry) peaks form, about 7 minutes. Use immediately.
The recipe makes a little extra lemon curd but I always find a use for it! Also this will allow you to fill and top each cupcake if you so desire.
While the cupcakes and curd can be made days in advance, the frosting needs to be used right away or it gets hard. I suggest doing everything else ahead of time, but not making the frosting and assembling the cupcakes until when you're ready to serve!
Serving Size: 1 grams Amount Per Serving:Unsaturated Fat: 0g
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recipe adapted slightly from: martha stewart cupcakes