Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

I’m not going to lie to you.  These cupcakes are not easy, nor are they quick.  However, they are the BOMB and totally worth every freak out you might experience while trying to get them made, as well as the mess you’ll have to clean up when you’re finally done.  There are three distinct parts of these cupcakes, which end up forming this ménage à trois of beautiful, silky, lemony love.  So if you’ve got a few hours to spare, give these a try!

Remember how I mentioned the book Baked: New Frontiers in Baking and how I was so excited to try the funky recipes in it?  Well that’s where I got the lemon cupcakes.  The recipe is actually for a Lemon Drop layer cake, which definitely looks like it’s worth trying out.  The other two parts of this recipe are the lemon pastry cream filling (just your basic pastry cream with some lemon zest and lemon juice thrown in) and the meringue topping which I took from my second favorite cupcakes in the world, of course by Martha. I’ll have to show you those sometime soon.  So, if you’re ready… let’s do some baking!

Hardware:  You’re going to need an electric mixer, a grater for lemon zest, a couple of sauce pans, and a couple of cupcake tins.

Go Buy This Stuff (I know, it’s a lot):

Pastry Cream

1 1/4 cup whole milk

2 tsp lemon zest

3 egg yolks

1/4 cup sugar

1 Tbsp flour

2 Tbsp plus 2 tsp cornstarch

1/4 tsp vanilla

2 tsp lemon juice

Cupcakes (courtesy of Baked)

2 1/2 cups cake flour

3/4 cup regular flour

1 Tbsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp salt

1 stick unsalted butter (softened)

1/2 cup veggie shortening (room temp)

1 3/4 cup sugar

1 Tbsp vanilla

Zest of one lemon

1 egg

1 1/2 cups ice water

3 egg whites (room temp)

1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Meringue Topping (courtesy of Martha)

8 egg whites

2 cups sugar

1/2 tsp cream of tartar

2 tsp vanilla

The pastry cream needs to chill, so we’ll make that first.  Heat the milk and lemon zest in a saucepan until it barely starts to steam, don’t let it get too hot.

In a separate bowl whisk together the yolks, sugar, flour, and cornstarch until smooth.

Add half of the milk to the egg mixture, whisking constantly.  Then add that mixture back into the pot with the rest of the milk.

Stir over medium heat for about two minutes until it gets very thick.

Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and vanilla.

Cover with plastic wrap directly touching the surface of the pastry cream to avoid getting a gross skin on the top as it chills.  Pop it in the fridge while you make everything else.

Ok, now the actual cupcakes.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Line two cupcake tins with papers, or grease and flour them.

In a large bowl, whisk together both flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.

Beat butter and shortening with an electric mixer for 3 or 4 minutes until creamy.  Add sugar, vanilla, and lemon zest and beat until fluffy.

Scrape the sides of the bowl and crack in your egg.  Beat until just combined and reduce the speed to low.

Gradually add the flour mixture, alternating with the ice water until well combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form.  Use your muscles!

Fold the egg whites into the batter and pour into the prepared cupcake tins,  filling about 3/4 of the way full.

Bake for about 25 minutes, rotating half way through.  Let cool completely.

While the cupcakes are coolin’ and the pastry cream is chillin’ you can make the meringue topping.

Place egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in a mixing bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. If you are using a stand mixer, use the bowl that fits it.


Whisk constantly until sugar dissolves and whites are warm, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk if you’re using a stand mixer, and whisk starting on low speed and increasing to high until stiff, glossy peaks form… about 5 to 7 minutes.

Add vanilla and mix to combine.

Ok, you’re cooking work is done and now it’s time to assemble these bad boys.

We’ll start by removing the centers of the cupcakes.  You’re going to cut an ice cream cone shape out of each cupcake, so insert your knife at about a 45 degree angle and cut in a circle.

Now cut off the pointy part of the cone, leaving just the top.  It’s like a little hat for your cupcake.  Do this to all cupcakes.

Now, fill a pastry bag (or do the ziplock trick) with the pastry cream, and pipe a good amount into each hole.

Replace the tops of the cupcakes.

Finally, put the meringue topping into a pastry bag (or ziplock) and pipe a nice heaping mound of meringue on the top of each cupcake.

I lied about being done with the cooking.  Unless you have a kitchen torch, we’re going to broil the tops of these.  If you have a kitchen torch, go ahead and brown the tops of each meringue.  If you don’t, turn on your broiler and put the cupcakes back in their tins.  Place them under the broiler until the meringue starts to brown.  This can happen really fast, so keep a constant eye on them.

Congratulations! You made it all the way through!  Now eat one, share one, and bask in the praises you’ll be given by every recipient of these delightful summery sweets.

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Published in: on April 19, 2010 at 6:56 am  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Could these be made a day ahead of time? Do you think there would be any problem refrigerating them for a day before serving?

    • These keep in the fridge for a couple days, you can definitely make them the day before you need them!


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