Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

lemonmeringuecupcakeThese gorgeous cupcakes are a little messy to eat and a bit fiddly to make but totally worth the effort! They are not huge on fat but they are not skimpy on the sugar so they are by no means “diet” even if they do have yogurt in them.

Ingredients

Lemon Curd Filling

  • 2 whole medium eggs + 2 medium egg yolks, at temperature
  • 1 c/225g granulated white sugar
  • 1/2 c/115ml fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 4 TBSP butter at room temperature
  • 1 firmly packed TBSP of lemon zest

Yogurt Cake

  • 4oz/115ml plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 c/225g plain white all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2c/100g butter
  • 3/4c/150g sugar
  • 3 whole medium eggs
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 firmly packed tsp of lemon zest

Meringue Frosting

  • 1/4 cup/60g granulated white sugar + 1 TBSP granulated white sugar
  • 2 TBSP water
  • 2 medium egg whites, at room temperature
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 level tsp cream of tartar
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla

Instructions

Prep the lemon bits…
Lemons are pretty difficult to zest after juicing so be sure to zest them first. You will need 1 TBSP + 2 tsp of zest divided.  Juice the lemons and strain the juice through a tea strainer or cloth, you will need 1/2 a cup + 1 TBSP of juice divided. Set aside at until needed.

Lemon Curd Filling

  1. Whisk the whole eggs, yolks, sugar and 1/2 cup of lemon juice in a microwave safe bowl or measuring jug. Make sure they are well combined and then cook on high in the microwave for 2 minutes, remove and whisk thoroughly. Return to the microwave and cook on high for 1 minute, watch carefully and if it starts to bubble over then remove it immediately and whisk it until it settles. Once it has started to reach the bubble up stage, start returning it to the microwave for 20-second sessions and whisking in-between. All in you want the curd to cook for at least a minute past the time it starts to try to bubble up over the sides.
  2. As soon as the curd is cooked, poor it into a clean bowl (strain it in if it looks like it has eggy bits in it) add the butter and zest. Whisk until the butter is completely melted. Cover with plastic wrap and smooth the plastic wrap down over the top of the curd so no skin will form. Leave to cool until just warm, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Yogurt Cake

  1. Measure out the yogurt and stir in 1 TBSP of the lemon juice, set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350c/180f and line a standard 12-cup tray with papers.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and set it aside.
  4. IMPORTANT! No skimping on the beating or your cakes will be like bricks! – Beat the butter till it is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add in the sugar a little at a time until its well blended, then beat for a further 2 minutes. Make sure you scrap down the bowl often and do not include the scraping time in the beating time.
  5. Add in the eggs one at a time; blending well after each addition. The mixture may look a little curdled at this point but that’s ok.
  6. Now alternately add the flour mixture in quarters and the yogurt mixture in thirds. Start and end with the flour. Each time you add some of either, blend it in well. Add the vanilla and lemon zest in with the last addition of flour and then blend the batter until smooth.
  7. The batter will be very thick, divide it evenly between the 12 cups (about 3/4 full). Bake in the center of the preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes. The cakes wont rise much but they will get a little golden on top and be springy.
  8. Once the cakes are cooked, leave them in the pan for 5 minutes then remove them to a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. *Fill the cooled cakes with the chilled lemon curd and line them up on a baking tray ready to be frosted

*IMPORTANT! The frosting needs to be used immediately after its been made so you should not start on the frosting until you are ready to assemble the cupcakes. The cakes need to be cooled completely and the curd needs to be cold before you start filling them.

Meringue Frosting

  1. Put the sugar and the water into a small saucepan and whisk until you have dissolved the sugar a bit, then put the pan over medium high heat and DON’T stir! It’s ok to swirl it if a bit of the sugar is stuck to the bottom of the pan but other wise try to just leave it alone.
  2. Once the sugar water mixture starts to boil, turn it down until it is at a good simmer. If you have a candy thermometer simmer until it reaches 250f, if you don’t then simmer for about 5 minutes (I don’t use a thermometer). Don’t stir, just leave it.
  3. While the sugar water is simmering, whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt, when they start to get foamy add the cream of tartar. Continue to whip until they just start to form soft peaks and then gradually add 1 TBSP of sugar. Continue to whip until thick and glossy.
  4. Once the sugar water is ready, get the whites going with the mixer on medium and pour the sugar water into them very VERY slowly in a thin steady stream. Be careful not to touch the sides of the bowl or the beaters. Continue until all the sugar water is incorporated into the whites, then keep whipping the mixture on medium until it is cooled (about 5 minutes).
  5. Once the meringue is ready, spoon or pipe it onto each filled cake. Be generous with it, there is plenty. Once each cake is frosted, take a palate knife or a spoon and touch it to the frosting then pull strait up so that you leave little spikes all over. If you mess up just tidy the frosting and start over.
  6. Once all the cupcakes are frosted and spiked, put them 3”/8cm away from a preheated broiler for 30 to 45 seconds. Watch them very closely! They should get that nice pale beige color with slightly darker tips, when they do remove them immediately and leave to cool.

Makes One Dozen – These should be stored at room temperature, and are best eaten within 3 days.

Notes

  • You want to try to time the sugar water mixture and the egg white whipping so that they are done around the same time.
  • I now have a long cupcake filler nozzle but before that, I used to “core” the cupcakes with a standard apple corer and then use a teaspoon to put in the filling. I tend to have a teaspoon or two left over but no one ever knows because I eat it!
  • If you choose to put them in the fridge they will get hard and the frosting will weep sugar tears which is not only sad, it ruins their taste.
  • Worried about raw egg whites? Don’t be, the super hot sugar water cooked them when you whipped it into them so they are not actually raw.

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