My mom always taught me, when life hands you lemons... make lemon meringue cupcakes. Okay, maybe she didn't really teach me that, but today is so gloomy and yucky that I needed to make something to bring a little sunshine into my family's life. And what's better than cake, and lemon, and fluffy, toasted meringue? (I can't think of much else)
Someday I really would love to open another bakery and offer a big line of cupcakes. These will definitely be on the menu because they were so delicious. A little sweet, a little tart.... yum yum yum!
There are three steps to making these. Step 1: The lemon curd. Step 2: Lemon cake. Step 3: Fluffy meringue. You can buy the lemon curd if you need to, especially if you're in a hurry, but the curd *can* be made at least 2 weeks ahead of time and held in the fridge.
In a bowl, put 2 whole eggs and 4 egg yolks. Make sure you reserve the whites from those 4 eggs in a separate bowl. We'll need them for the meringue.
Whisk the eggs and yolks together.
Zest 3 lemons. I use the small grater on my grate box to do this. Don't zest your lemons too far in advance because these will dry out if left out too long.
Set the zest aside.
Turn the burner onto LOW and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture becomes thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. There will be lumps in this but don't be worried. We'll take care of that in a minute.
Remove the curd from the burner.
Dump it all into a fine mesh seive and use the wooden spoon to force it through. This will filter out any of those lumpy egg particles. Make sure you scrape the bottom side of the seive once it's all been pushed through because there will be a lot clinging to it.
Now take 4 Tablespoons of butter. Drop one piece in at a time and stir as it melts. This will incorporate the butter into the curd, giving it a velvety smooth texture. Repeat until all of the butter has been added. Do not add it all at once. It won't work and will cool the curd off too fast before it all melts in.
Cover the curd with saran. Make sure you let the saran sit directly on top of the surface. This will keep a skin from forming. Put in the fridge and allow to chill.
Now for the cupcakes! In a mixing bowl, put 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, at room temp and 1 cup sugar. Cream until smooth.
Make sure you scrape down the sides of your bowl too.
Alternate adding the buttermilk and the flour mixture until it's all added.
Scrape sides with spatula.
Put in a preheated 350* oven for about 20 minutes.
Remove from the oven when a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Pop from the pan and allow to cool on a baker's rack.
When they're finally cool, use a sharp knife to cut out the centers. I removed some of the cake from the "lid".
Place all of the filled cupcakes on a baking sheet. Time to prepare the meringue.
Remember those 4 egg whites we saved from the curd? We're going to need those. They need to be almost room temperature. You'll get fluffier egg whites if they lose the chill from the fridge.
When the whites start getting frothy, slowly add 1/2 cup sugar while the mixer is on. (You should be whisking on high)
As soon as the sugar is poured in, add 1/4 tsp cream of tartar.
It'll be like fluffy clouds of goodness!
Put the meringue in a piping bag fitted with a wide round tip.
Pipe onto the the surface of the cupcake. I made it all spikey, but you can pipe it on however you like.
Pop under a broiler for a quick minute, keeping a VERY close eye on them. If you do spikeys like I did, the tips will start to burn so you need to make sure you pull them out before you have a giant fireball of meringue in your oven.
Keep these stored in an air-tight container in the fridge (if they last that long).
This recipe makes 1 dozen cupcakes.