I’m assuming that by the name alone you realize there can be nothing bad about these cupcakes. I have yet to find someone who doesn’t like lemon meringue pie (and if you are that person, don’t tell me, because you’ll shatter my entire world). I was absolutely craving lemon meringue pie (no, this does not mean that I’m pregnant, it just means that I like pie), but I wanted something I could sit on the couch and eat with my hands. Sometimes it’s just that kind of day, you know.
And so, my lemon meringue cupcakes were born, and it only required one trip to the store because I was out of sugar. Seriously, how does one run out of sugar? It would have been great if I had realized this the night before when I was at the grocery store. But, once you get lemon meringue cupcakes into your head, there’s just no turning back. No matter how crappy the weather. No matter how many children you need to bundle up to go with you.
A warning: yes, there are a lot of pictures. Look at it as me being photo happy, and not that these take a lot of extra effort. If you were making regular cupcakes you’d have to make the cake and the icing, so the curd is only one more thing. One more, very much worth it, thing.
See this face. This is the face my Anna made when I sat up on the couch and said “Hey, we need to make Lemon Meringue Cupcakes! Sound good?” I took this as a giant yes.
This was my non-helper. Maggie had no interest in making cupcakes, she had been quite happy upstairs on the couch with Oliver and I. She was not nearly as happy on the floor in the kitchen.
First off, get out three lemons. Zest them, and juice them.
Voila! (also, ignore the changes in photo quality, I’m way too tired to adjust the colour on the ones I haven’t already)
Someone’s perking up a little bit. Ok, maybe I said the word “treat”.
There’s my helper! He LOVES lemons, he’ll just eat the slices raw, so he was quite excited about these cupcakes. Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder.
In a second bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat well after each one.
All the eggs are in now, looking good.
Mix in the vanilla and lemon zest.
Now it’s time to start add the flour and liquids in alternating additions. First, a third of the flour gets mixed in.
Then, half of the milk and half of the lemon juice.
Then half of the remaining flour.
Then the rest of the milk and lemon juice.
Now mix in the last of the flour.
Voila! Batter is done!
Fill the muffin tins up three-quarters of the way. Make sure that the tins are very well greased and floured (I didn’t want to use papers for these cupcakes, but there’s no reason why you couldn’t). Put in the oven and bake until just lightly browned at the edges, and a toothpick comes out clean.
Perfect! Take them out of the tins as quickly as you can and let completely cool on a wire rack.
Now yes, these are delicious as is, but let’s one better them shall we! I mean, we’ve come this far already.
Alright, while those cupcakes were baking, I started on the curd. A note on this: a lot of people insist on doing this over a double boiler, and while I understand why, I simply do not have the patience. As long as you stir it constantly and cook it over medium heat, you’ll have no issues. Ok, put the sugar and eggs in a medium saucepan.
Whisk them together.
Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, and butter.
Here’s where I forgot to take a picture. Whisk it over medium heat until it thickens, about 5 minutes, maybe a little bit longer. What you want it to do is coat the back of a spoon like this, so that when you run your finger through it, the curd doesn’t run. When I make this for an actual pie filling, I let it thicken up a little bit longer, but for these cupcakes this is perfect. This way, the curd will still be runny enough at room temperature to soak into the cake a little bit.
Now, run the curd through a fine mesh strainer. This just gets out any little bits of cooked egg that are bound to happen.
I didn’t feel like cleaning a pastry bag, so I cut a hole in the corner of a ziploc bag and pushed my cupcake filling tip through it. Worked perfectly well.
If you don’t have one of these long tips, simply cut a cone out of the top of your cupcakes, use a spoon to fill with some curd, then replace the cone. Here’s very quick illustration (it’s late and I’m tired from being up with a sick boy, so cut me some slack on the lack of pretty please!).
Here are the filled cupcakes. Don’t worry if some flows out, just wipe it up…I’m not telling you to use your finger to do this, but I’m also not telling you not to.
On to the meringue! Put the cornstarch, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and water in a small sauce pan and whisk over medium heat until thick and clear. This is the way I make a fool proof meringue that browns nicely and is quick and easy.
Here’s the clear cornstarch mixture.
In a medium bowl, put the egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt. Beat until foamy.
Perfectly foamy, now mix in the vanilla, then slowly add the remaining 6 tablespoons of sugar. Beat until soft peaks form.
Once you have nice soft peaks, add the cornstarch mixture and beat to stiff peaks.
Put the cooled and filled cupcakes on a baking sheet and top them with the meringue. Messy is always good here, it looks so pretty once browned. I did make two giant cupcakes for Oliver and Bo. Throw in the oven for about 5 minutes, until nice and golden brown.
P.E.R.F.E.C.T. Seriously, I think these are the best cupcakes I’ve ever made, and they’re sure to be a life long favorite.
Let’s take a look inside, shall we? See how the curd isn’t just one large mass, but soaked into the cake a little bit. This is because we didn’t thicken up the curd to pie consistency. This is marvelous.
Let’s end on a giant, delicious note, shall we.
Here’s the printable: