Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

It's been really warm where I live the past couple of days, and winter baking just didn't feel right.  I came across these and knew that I had to make them.  A tender lemon cake with a lightly browned marshmallow frosting - perfect for the warmer weather.  The hardest part of these is browning the marshmallow frosting.  After my small oops with the last cupcakes I made I was hoping for no mistakes - and I only had 1.  If I'm going to have a bunch of small, minor mistakes instead of 1 giant one, I'll take it.  While browning one of the tops of the cupcakes, I accidentally dropped the cupcake.  But not only did I drop it, the top was slightly on fire.  Luckily as it dropped it fell top down and the small flames went out - and I had marshmallow all over the counter.  But that was the worst of it, and was happy that it happened with only 4 cupcakes left to brown.  You can also add a layer of lemon curd on top of each cupcake before you put the marshmallow frosting on top.  I'm not a fan of lemon curd, I always find it too tart so I left it out.  But if you're a fan, add it in. 

toasted perfection
Lemon Meringue Cupcakes
makes 24

3 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 cup butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
3 tbsp lemon zest
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
Lemon Curd (optional)
Marshmallow Frosting

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.  In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
  2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.  Beat in zest and vanilla.  Add flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with two additions of buttermilk and lemon juice, and beating until just combined after each. 
  3. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each three-quarters full.  Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes.  Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. 
  4. If using lemon curd, spread 1 tbsp of lemon curd onto middle of each cupcake.  Then top with frosting.  Hold a small kitchen torch 3-4" away from surface of frosting and wave it back and forth until frosting is lightly browned all over. 
Marshmallow Frosting

1 1/2 cups plus 2 tbsp sugar
2/3 cup water
2 tbsp light corn syrup
6 large egg whites, room temperature

Combine 1 1/2 cups sugar with the water and corn syrup in a small saucepan; clip a candy thermometer to the side of the pan.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves.  Continue boiling, without stirring, until syrup reaches 230 degrees.

Meanwhile, in the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk egg whites on medium-high speed until soft peaks form.  With mixer running add remaining 2 tbsp sugar, beating to combine. 

As soon as sugar syrup reached 230 degrees, remove from heat.  With mixer on medium-low speed, pour syrup down side of bowl in a slow, steady stream.  Raise speed to medium-high; whisk until mixture is completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl) and stiff (but not dry) peaks form, about 7 minutes.  Use immediately. 

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