Monday, October 15, 2007

Lemon Meringue Pie Cupcakes

Possibly the best cupcakes I've ever made. I brought two dozen of them to work a week ago Thursday, and they were gone by lunchtime. My lunch crowd on Friday requested a repeat performance, so I brought another 2 dozen on Monday, and those were gone by 10:30.

Based on the CulinaryInTheDesert recipe, but with a few modifications - whole wheat pastry flour rather than cake flour; lemon extract in addition to zest in the cake. All in all, delicious.

For the lemon curd

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 teaspoon fresh grated lemon zest (finely chopped/zested/minced, so the pieces are small)

For the cupcake batter

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 tablespoon fresh grated lemon zest
1 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup milk (whole, or part skim and part yogurt, which I used the 2nd time I made these this week)

For the meringue

3 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup granulated sugar

To make the lemon curd

In a heat-proof bowl, whisk lemon juice, eggs, egg yolk and sugar until smooth. Add butter and place bowl over a pot of simmering water. Whisking gently, cook mixture until it thickens and leaves a ribbon when whisk is lifted - this can take anywhere from 8 to 20 minutes depending on how high the heat is set and how cold the ingredients were (if you can't get a "ribbon" to form, cook til the eggs are done, i.e. 140-170? not sure which, but if it's up to 160, I'd say it's safe). Remove from heat and push through a fine mesh strainer (do not skip this step, or you will have eggy chunks in the smooth mixture, and they are not good). Fold in lemon zest, cover with plastic wrap and thoroughly chill before using.

To make the cupcakes

Preheat oven to 375.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder and salt.

In a large bowl (or in kitchenaid mixer), mix together the lemon zest and sugar until the zest is evenly distributed and the sugar takes on a light yellow hue. Add butter and cream together until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla until combined. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture alternately with the milk - beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.

Evenly divide batter between 24 paper-lined muffin cups - they should be roughly half full. (important, or it only makes 15 cupcakes)

Bake until cake springs back when lightly touched in the center and is just beginning to get a golden hue - about 16 to 20 minutes. Remove and place cupcakes on a wire rack to cool completely. Seriously - take them out of the pan or the bottoms will get burned during the next stage of baking (browning the meringue).

To make the meringue

In a large mixing bowl, whip egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy. Slowly add sugar, a tablespoon at a time, and continue whipping until egg whites hold stiff peaks when beaters are lifted. This takes about 20 minutes altogether.


Preheat oven to 400. Place cupcakes on a large baking sheet. Use a paring knife to cut out a small cone out of the center of each cupcake. Pipe about 1 to 2 tablespoons of the lemon curd into each cupcake. Spoon dollops of meringue over the curd on each cupcake. Bake until the tops of the meringues brown - about 4 to 6 minutes.

Makes 24 cupcakes (small ones, which makes it more reasonable to eat 2 of them)


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