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Amazing idea last week: lemon meringue cupcakes. I could make a lemony cake part, then bake a meringue right on top! No need to frost, super easy recipe! I mean look at these. Ladies, how cute would it be to show up at the next get-together with a cheerful tray of these? And guys, how funny would it be to challenge societal gender roles with this kind of delicious underlining your defiance?

Lemon meringue cupcakes.

And to boot, these are 165 calories apiece. Not health food, but far lighter than one would expect from such a tall cupcake.

While the above does appear to be what I described, it is not. No, this recipe has undergone about ten revisions, and unfortunately, that is not fantastic hyperbole. I don’t have pictures of the process, but it boils down to the fact that the pH of the batter is important, and turns out meringue will not hold its shape if baked upon a proper cupcake. And if you bake lemon curd atop a cupcake, the whole thing will taste weirdly sulfuric for some reason. So the final recipe is more involved than I wanted it to be, but the cuteness factor paired with the actual deliciousness is well worth the effort, which in itself is effectively the same as making cupcakes and frosting from scratch, except two frostings. Which is admittedly not the same thing at all.

There are a few “specialty” tools required for this recipe. Nothing too specialized—you should be able to find in your grocery store—but I generally avoid these things because in the past I always tried to work around them: a hand mixer, parchment paper, cake flour, food scale. The mixer is really just for the meringue, the parchment paper for baking the meringue, the scale for measuring the cake flour, and the cake flour because All-Purpose Flour is a misnomer, as it is not good for cakes. I think this recipe is lenient enough to allow you to substitute all purpose flour for cake, but can’t be held accountable for the resulting texture. In the worst case your texture is off, but you will still end up with something yummy if not presentable.

Start with the curd so it has time to chill while all that other stuff is going on. Have you ever had this stuff? I saw it all over left-coast food blogs back when Meyer lemons were in season, but since citrus is um, never in season in Massachusetts, I hadn’t really any good occasion to create a curd until now. And it’s a surprisingly quick (5 minute) ordeal with HUGE payoffs. I could spoon this into my mouth all day, and I hear people put it on toast and things like that. I don’t need to remind you that I put it on cupcakes. By itself, it’s a delightful frosting too!

Curd food.

This isn’t a bad time to go over how to zest a lemon. The white rind is bitter, while the nice sunny yellow part is what offers the bright lemony flavour, so grating away at the skin until you hit the poor lemon’s pulp is exactly NOT the way to do it. My strategy is to shoot for exactly one pass over each bit of the lemon’s surface exactly once. Remember, this is not a sheep-shearing contest, so there’s no need to get every little bit of yellow off the lemon. Just zip your micrograter or zester right along and don’t spend too much time on it.

How to zest a lemon.

Also, isn’t that lemon HUGE? My god, it’s like Monsanto’s answer to the lumpy F-cup boob job.

Speaking of lemons, for both the curd and the batter, I recommend straining your fresh lemon juice. I find that when I leave lemon seeds in my desserts, people never seem to go back for seconds.

It's a strain.

The batter has this subtle speckle of lemon rind yellow. Gorgeous.

Future cupcakes of america.

While that’s in the oven, we make our way to the third part: meringue. This is what it should look (roughly) like right before you start adding the sugar.

Meringue. Luscious.

Now we need a way for the meringues will fit the cupcakes. I use the liners as a guide and trace out circles on the BACK of the parchment paper upon which I shall bake the meringues.

Circles

Then I spoon the meringue onto each dot and smooth it out to the circumference of the paper circle, then around in a spiral to make that nice swirly peak. To do so, I washed my hands very thoroughly, then used something kicking around to smooth and swirl. I can’t remember what right now, but it definitely wasn’t my finger if that’s what your thinking. I mean, if I DID use my finger, I did wash my hands very thoroughly, but I wouldn’t use my finger because that would be very uncouth.

Swirly peaks.

And now that everything’s all squared away and set, let’s assemble!

Putting it together.

I cannot get over how successfully adorable these are.

Lemon meringue cupcakes.

And luscious too.

Lemon meringue cupcakes.

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes
an original recipe, in three acts

 

Prologue
Heat oven to 350o

 

Act One: Lemon Curd
2 eggs
1 lemon: zest of & juice of (about 2 tsp & 3 tbsp, respectively)
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 c butter (4 tbsp), chopped

Whisk eggs, lemon zest & juice and sugar in a small saucepan, no heat. Add the butter bits, then bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking all the while. After three minutes or so, you’ll begin to see the bottom of the pan here and there as you whisk, and the mixture will almost instantly thicken. Remove from heat and chill in fridge until needed.

 

Act Two: Cupcakes
2 egg yolks

1/4 c sugar
1/4 c butter (room-temp is best)
1 lemon: zest of

1/2 c sifted cake flour, or 64g if you’re able to weigh (best method). Feel free to try all-purpose and let me know how it goes!
1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp vanilla
1 lemon: juice of

Beat egg yolks. Add sugar, butter and zest, and mix until creamed. Sift flour and baking soda, then mix until combined. Lastly, add 1/2 tsp vanilla and strain 1 lemon’s worth of juice, then stir to combine. Nimbly scoop batter into 12 cupcake liners (quicker is better). Bake for 15 minutes.

 

Act Three: Meringue

Beat on high until stiff peaks form (about 3-4 minutes):
2 egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 tsp vanilla
pinch cornstarch

Add in a continuous stream, beating on high all the while:
1/2 c sugar

On a piece of parchment, use a cupcake liner as a stencil to draw 12 circles. Flip liner so the drawing is face down (in contact with the cookie sheet), then spoon 1/12 of the meringue into each area.

Wash your hands thoroughly. Use the circles as a guide for what the meringues should be sized, then using a finger, swipe around the glob of meringue to give it a shape. You’ll have to play around with this, as it will be slightly different for everyone, but what works for me is to pat down the meringue to roughly the intended size, then swipe around with a damp finger to make it as circular as possible. Then I spiral inward, and once at the center, lift finger to create a peak.

Bake at 350o for 15 minutes. Do not open the oven while baking, unless you smell something burning or something. Remove from oven to wire rack, let cool 1 minute, then with a metal spatula, pop each meringue from the parchment so it does not stick there while it cools completely (which you must do before moving onto the next step).

 

Assembly

Spread about a tablespoon of lemon curd upon each cupcake, then top with a meringue. Ta da! Lemon Meringue Cupcake! Store in an airtight container, and for extra crisp meringues, don’t top cupcakes until ready to serve.

The end!

 

 

nutrition summary: (for 1 of 12 cupcakes) 165 calories, 9g fat, 0g fiber; about 3 weight watchers points

  1. Katie Said,

    These are the cutest cupcakes! I currently own, er, one of those specialty items, but that’s awesome, because now I can use this recipe as an excuse to get the others. I have longed for a food scale, after all. Oh wait, we have one. Well, it sucks, I’m going to lie and pretend you said that one needs a fancier food scale. Can I do that? Will you back me up?

    Thank you so much for posting this recipe, by the way; these look crazy delicious.

  2. Katrina Said,

    These look great! I made key lime cupcakes one time that were to die for that are similar to these. You use key lime juice mixed with sweetened condensed milk (obviously not for the health concious) then fill the cooled down cupcakes. I bake the meringues right no top with no problems. Anyway, can’t wait to try you lemon ones!!

  3. Kat Said,

    So was the “This American Life” reference intentional or simply blaring to those of us who are fans? I love it!!! :)

  4. Michelle Said,

    Uh oh, I have a feeling that my husband will make me start trying these if I let him near this site!

  5. Pearl Said,

    drawing the circle on the paper for meringue is such a great idea! thanks for sharing :D

  6. Dave Said,

    Oh. Yes.

  7. Apollo Said,

    I’m not even a fan of lemon and this post made my mouth water.

  8. sara Said,

    Wow! These cupcakes look absolutely amazing…I will definitely be trying out your recipe! Gorgeous photos. :)

  9. LaQuita Said,

    OMG!
    These are too cute! I’m gonna try it out for our Mom’s Nite Out Gathering and I’ll let you know how it goes. This is such a good recipe! Thanks!

    I’ve shared this with my members and they love it.

  10. siri Said,

    These looks scary good. Lemon meringue reminds me of family picnics in the summer- what a fine idea to turn a pie into a cupcake.

    Guess what kind of cupcake I’ll be making next chance I get….

    Thanks a lot for sharing!
    -Siri

  11. stephchows Said,

    These are amazing!!! Total work, but totally worth it :) Did you use calorie count to figure out the calories? Isn’t that program awesome! Beautiful pics as always :)

  12. raych Said,

    I had never made lemon curd either until two days ago, when I made some to go in teeny tartlets (side note: mini muffin tins are a poor venue for teeny tartlets. There is an entirely too high ratio of crust to things-in-crust, and if you want to coarsely chop some strawberries to mix with whipped cream and chuck in them, you will be hard-pressed to get the filling IN) as a non-strawberry option. The lemon ones turned out even better than the strawberry ones (see parenthetical note above) and also, lemon curd takes minutes to make and is delicious.

    ALso, I need to eat these. Why are we not neighbors? We would be fat neighbors.

  13. heather Said,

    i want to eat one of these right NOW!

  14. Jess Said,

    So… I made these today. Saw them this morning, was planning on making cupcakes for a meeting tomorrow, went to the store to buy a couple lemons, and came home and made them. So far I’ve eaten two, mom came over for dinner and had three, and I don’t think the remaining cupcakes will make it to the meeting. The lemon curd is perfectly tart, not overly sweet, and the meringues are great! I did have problems, however, with the cupcakes. The taste was not a problem at all. They’re fabulous. The problem is with the consistency. The first batch I made came out holy and sunken. So I whipped up a second batch. The cupcake making step only takes a quick minute, why not? The second batch I watched more closely. They rose, but looked pale, so I left them in. Then before I knew it they were starting to sink, and the big holes were forming. Any ideas? I tried to nimbly scoop the batter, I measured accurately, but still the big holes. They taste great. Lemony and sweet, I can’t believe they’re so low on calories! I could eat the whole batch! So Delicious!! FANTASTIC recipe though. I’m really using restraint here to not go eat another… and another…and another.. and another…

  15. anna Said,

    Those look really great! I made cupcakes a couple weeks ago with Meyer lemon curd and a lemon meringue frosting, but I didn’t bake my frosting! I bet yours are really tasty.

  16. Nicolas Said,

    Sweet baby jesus those are precious. I WILL make these someday. I just can’t get over how adorable they are

  17. Adagio Said,

    Mother’s day? kthx.

  18. Mario Z Said,

    Brought a tear to my eye.

  19. lesley Said,

    Thank you for sharing this, it’s a great idea & a nice change from pastry. Photo’s are awesome! ;0)

  20. amy Said,

    om nom nom:)

  21. amy Said,

    I made these and they were fabulous! Couldn’t find cake flour, used all purpose. I could tell they could be cakey-er but they were still yummy! Only problem I had was with the not assembling them to ready to eat part. I made them – gave one to each family member and then wandered off. I came back a few hours later to seal them up tight (meringues unassembled as to insure crispy-ness) and when I returned mysteriously there were missing meringues and a couple had these mysterious mouth shaped holes in them….. Evidently I have a meringue thief in my midst!

  22. Christine Said,

    I would try using a pastry bag instead of a finger for the meringue. You’d get neater, more consistent results without egg all over your hands. :-)

  23. UK Foodie Said,

    Oh WOW! They look delicious, will be giving the recipe a try at the weekend – can’t wait. Thanks for sharing:-)

  24. Omnomicon makes » daily nom #31 Said,

    [...] discarded photo from the lemon meringue cupcakes, and is the best shot I’ve ever taken into an oven. Not that it’s come up [...]

  25. liana Said,

    I used self-rising flour and omitted the baking soda. They turned out just fine c:

  26. Katy Said,

    I tried this out and it turhed out really tasty. But the batter recipe was only enough for abot six cupcakes. Am I doing something wrong?

  27. Dabbled » Blog Archive » Lemon Week continues… Lemon Recipe Link Dump Said,

    [...] Gorgeous Lemon Meringue Cupcakes from Omnomicon [...]

  28. Maria Said,

    omg. made these last night with normal plain flour, not cake flour – and THEY ARE FREAKING AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  29. David Begum Said,

    digital kitchen scales are the stuff that i always use on my kitchen when i weight things `:”

  30. Rachel Said,

    These are so yummy! I’ve made them a bunch of times and they are great. My one problem is the meringues- they keep deflating as they cool. They cook and come out nice and plump and perfect looking but then as they start to cool, they sink and flatten. :( I’ve tried several various degrees of mixing, from mixing more, all the way to the consistency of whipped butter, and mixing less all the way to barely holding- nothing seems to work to keep them from cooking up and then deflating. My stubborness to get it right kept me trying the meringues many more times than the cupcakes, all to no avail. Any ideas? I’ve looked online for tips/reasons and none seem to fit- its not humid, eggs where at room temp (I tried them cold as well just to see) Before I give up and decide that I don’t have the touch for meringue,I thought I’d ask you id you have any ideas. :o )

  31. Meg Said,

    For christmas I made a lemon tart (first time making lemon curd, totally delicious) and have made pavlova so am all over meringues. Never thought to combine them! :D
    Made these and even tho it was a little fiddly, the end result was stunning. I earned some serious brownie points with the ‘in-laws’ with these. Definitely a crowd pleaser.
    And my “I dont have a sweet tooth” boyfriend nommed all the remaining cupcakes the next day. Success!

  32. Meg Said,

    @Rachel. I always turn the oven off and leave them in the oven with the door ajar a little, so the cooling down process is a little gentler. Try that, it might help :) Failing that the “you dont have to eat any then” will shut up any complainers

  33. Marie Said,

    These cupcakes are absolutely delicious! I made a few batches for a party in school and they went over very well with my classmates. I plan on making them with oranges as well to see how they turn out!

  34. Fajas Said,

    Oh WOW! They look delicious, will be giving the recipe a try at the weekend – can’t wait. Thanks for sharing:-)

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