Fluffy Lemon Meringue Cupcakes
Yeah, that's right, lemon meringue cupcakes!
As in vanilla cupcakes with a hint of lemon flavor in them, filled with a smooth, velvety, rich, lemon curd (that definitely has more than a hint of lemon flavor in it), topped with a sweet, glossy, torched meringue frosting.
Oh boy oh boy oh boy <3
For the actual cupcakes, I used my fluffiest vanilla cupcakes recipe and added some lemon zest to the mixture to turn them into vanilla cupcakes with a hint of lemon flavor.
I specifically used that vanilla cupcake recipe because I actually didn't want to use a lemon cupcake as the base for these lemon meringue cupcakes. I felt that combining a lemon cupcake with the lemon filling would yield a whole lotta lemon flavor. Maybe a little too much lemon flavor.
Which usually, I don't have a problem with. But I just thought that the vanilla cupcakes, with just a little added lemon flavor, combined with the very lemony lemon curd, would supply the perfect balance.
And also, those vanilla cupcakes are unbelievable in both flavor richness and texture fluffiness, so why start creating a new cupcake base when I know that that one is amazing? Amiright or amiright?
Cake flour helps make these cupcakes light and fluffy, extra egg yolks make these cupcakes velvety and soft and rich, and a combination of sour cream and milk works to keep the cupcakes light while still affording them a rich flavor.
So that's that for our cupcakes. Moving on to the lemon filling.
The filling is similar to the one I use for my lemon meringue pie. It's smooth and rich, creamy and velvety, has just the right amount of sweetness, and is packed with bright, citrusy lemon flavor.
After you bake the cupcakes and let them cool, you cut out a cone shape from the center of the cupcake, fill the hollow center with a generous spoonful of lemon curd, and replace the cut out piece.
And that gives you beautiful cupcakes that look all innocent and vanilla-y on the outside but are actually stuffed with lemon filling that oozes out as soon as you take a bite. How's that for a pleasant surprise?
Onto the meringue.
You're gonna have some extra egg whites from your cupcake batter and lemon curd. Save those! And use them for the meringue.
You'll only need three of those egg whites, plus some sugar, salt, and vanilla extract. All that is whipped together, producing a sweet, marshmallow-like, glossy, stiff meringue to be piped atop the surprise-lemon-curd-filling vanilla cupcakes.
And then just use a kitchen torch to brown the meringue to really give the cupcakes the classic lemon meringue look. Or place the cupcakes under a broiler for a minute or two for the same effect.
Light, super fluffy, richly flavored, vanilla-hint-of-lemon cupcakes filled with a creamy, sweet, bright lemon curd and topped with a sticky, sweet marshmallowy meringue.
Das what I'm talking about!
Fluffy Lemon Meringue Cupcakes
Yield: 12 cupcakes
1 stick (4 oz.) butter, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 whole egg + 2 egg yolks (save egg whites for the meringue)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
zest of 1 lemon
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (4.5 oz.) packed cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
Lemon Curd Filling:
2 egg yolks (save egg whites for the meringue)
Zest and juice of 1 1/2 lemons
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/2 stick (2 oz.) butter, cubed
3 egg whites
3/4 cup granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 F. Line 12 cupcake molds with liners.
Cream together the butter and sugar for a few minutes until mixture is light and fluffy.
Add in egg + yolks one at a time, followed by the vanilla extract and lemon zest, creaming until mixture is smooth and fluffy again. Batter may look curdled - that's okay.
In a small bowl, stir together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt. In a measuring cup, measure out the milk and sour cream and then mix the two together.
Alternate adding the dry ingredients and milk mixture to your machine running on low-medium speed, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix till just combined.
Using a large ice cream scoop, divide batter evenly into cupcake liners, filling almost to top. Bake cupcakes for 18-20 minutes, or until they spring back when touched and a toothpick inserted comes out clean or with a few crumbs. Let cool.
Lemon Curd Filling: While cupcakes are baking, prepare filling. Whisk together the eggs, yolks, and lemon juice and zest in a large metal bowl (or any heat-safe bowl). Stir together the sugar and cornstarch and add into egg mixture, whisking to combine.
Place the metal bowl over a simmering pot of water, creating a double boiler. Whisk/stir mixture frequently over a small-medium flame until it thickens (about 10 minutes).
Remove bowl from flame and stir in butter right away until it melts and is fully incorporated. If necessary, strain the mixture to remove any lemon pits or clumps. Set aside.
Using a small, sharp knife, cut out a deep, wide circle from the center of each cupcake. Drop a generous spoonful of lemon filling into the hole. Put the piece of cupcake you just cut out back on top of the filling.
Meringue: Place egg whites, sugar, and salt into bowl of your electric stand mixer (or any heat-safe bowl) and place over a pot of simmering water, creating a double boiler. Whisk mixture constantly for a few minutes until the sugar is dissolved and mixture is warm to the touch (110 F).
Transfer bowl to machine fitted with a whisk attachment and add in vanilla extract. Whip mixture, starting on low speed and gradually increasing to highest speed, for a few minutes until you have a stiff and glossy meringue.
Pipe or spread meringue over the cooled and filled cupcakes. Use a kitchen torch to brown the meringue, being careful not to let cupcake liners catch on fire (if they do, quickly blow flame out). Alternatively, broil the cupcakes for about two minutes, or until meringue is golden brown.