Sunday, March 10, 2013

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

Difficult: Not terribly
Time Consuming: It has 3 components, which I made over 2 days, but nothing was individually too timely.

I don't know what exactly has me in a citrus-y, fruity dessert kick, but I can't say I'm complaining.  A few weeks ago, it was lemon raspberry sugar cookies.  This week it's these lemon meringue cupcakes.  This particular batch of cupcakes found their way to our church's fish fry and from what I hear, were gobbled up pretty quickly.

The base of this dessert is a sweet and citrusy lemon cupcake.  The batter came together beautifully and very effortlessly in my stand mixer.  The aroma from the lemon was intoxicating and it took every ounce of strength not to lick the bowl.

I filled the cupcakes with lemon curd I made the day before.  It's from the book Baking: Illustrated by the folks at America's Test Kitchen, so you know it has to be good.  And aside from tempering the eggs, which would be easier with a third arm, the tangy and sweet filling came together easily and quickly.  Although I have seen recipes for 10 minute microwave lemon curd, so if anyone has tried those, I'd love to hear how they turned out.

The cupcakes are topped with a 7 minute frosting.  I don't know why it's called that, because mine definitely took more than 7 minutes to prepare.  I was able to prep my cupcakes for assembly and do some dishes while it was whipping away in the mixer.  But nonetheless, the meringue-like frosting is the perfect sweet and creamy compliment to all the bright lemony flavors bursting from the cupcake.  And if you've got a kitchen torch, it torches great, giving it that finished look of a meringue pie.  This can probably be accomplished in broiler, but you'd have to watch it like a hawk so it doesn't burn.

The recipe for the frosting made way too much for me, but that probably has more to do with how I frosted the cupcakes than the recipe itself.  I added a few tablespoons of cocoa powder (about 2 tablespoons to just under half the frosting) and a handful (or two, or three) of chocolate chips and mixed until combined.  Then I baked at 350 degrees for 18 minutes, and let cool in the oven for 1 hour and ended up with meringue cookies.  They aren't the exact same, but it was better than wasting all that sugar.  For a better meringue cookie recipe, check out Bakerella.

The Recipe
yields 26 cupcakes


Lemon Cupcake
3 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks of unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups white sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
3 tablespoons of lemon zest (from about 3-4 small lemons)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup of buttermilk (or measure 1 tablespoon of lemon juice into a 1 cup glass measuring cup, then top to the 1 cup line with milk, mix, and let sit for 5 minutes)

2 cups of prepared lemon curd (1 recipe's worth)

 1 1/2 cups white sugar, + 2 tablespoons white sugar
2/3 cup water
2 tablespoons corn syrup
6 large egg whites (eggs separate better from yolks when cool, but whip better for meringue at room temperature)


Make the Cake
1.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Line cupcake pan with paper liners, set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

2.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing in between each addition.  Add the lemon zest and vanilla and mix.  Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl as needed.

3.  Add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the stand mixer and mix.  Then add the lemon juice add 1/2 the buttermilk, mix.  Then add the second 1/3 of the flour mixture, mix.  Then the second 1/2 of the buttermilk, mix.  End by mixing in the final 1/3 of flour mixture until just combined.

4.  Divide the batter between the muffin cups, filling each around 2/3 of the way full.  Be careful not to over fill.  Bake for 22-25 minutes, until the tops of the cake spring back lightly when touched and a toothpick comes out with just a few moist crumbs (or completely clean).  Cool in pans for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make the Frosting
5.  Make sure you have a working, accurate candy thermometer.  Test this out by boiling water and checking the temperature.  Water boils at 212 degrees, so take note of your temperature and make adjustments in the coming steps as necessary (e.g., if it boils at 202 degrees, then subtract 10 from the temperature)

6.  Combine water, 1 1/2 cups sugar, and corn syrup in a small saucepan.  Cook over low heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.  With the heat around medium, cook until the sugar reaches 230 degrees on a candy thermometer.

7.  While the sugar is cooking, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks in a stand mixer.  With the mixer running on low, slowly add the 2 tablespoons of sugar.  Mix to combine.

8.  Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low.  When the cooked sugar reaches 230 degrees (aka softball stage), slowly (and carefully!) pour the syrup in a steady stream down the side of the bowl.  When all of the syrup has been added, increase the mixer speed to high and whisk.  Whisk until you have stiff (but not dry) peaks, and the frosting is cool (check by touching the bottom of the mixing bowl).  [Mine cooled, but was never "cool," it got to "just slightly warm" when I got tired of it mixing].

Assemble the Cupcakes
9.  Core the cupcakes.  Set aside the tops if you want to plop them back in after you fill.  Add 1-2 teaspoons of lemon curd to the cupcakes (and top with cupcake cores if you want).

10.  Pipe the meringue frosting on the cupcakes.  I used a large Wilton star tip.  Torch the top of the cupcakes with a butane kitchen torch.

Eat and enjoy!!

Mostly from Martha Stewart.

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