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Portrait image of a cut Lemon Meringue Cupcake reveals the lemon ucrd filling.
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Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

A yellow butter cupcake is filled with a sweetly-tart lemon curd and topped with a dollop of torched meringue.
Course Dessert
Cuisine North American
Keyword cupcakes, lemon meringue
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 12 cupcakes
Calories 391kcal

Equipment

  • butane torch (optional)
  • muffin pan
  • handheld (or stand) mixer
  • #16 portion scoop (optional)
  • apple corer (optional)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups (180 grams) cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon (3 grams) baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon (1 gram) ground ginger optional
  • 1 cup (250 milliliters) buttermilk at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon (5 milliliters) vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cups (170 grams) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (6 grams) lemon zest from 1 large lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature
  • 3/4 cups (180 grams) Meyer Lemon Curd (or jarred lemon curd)

Lemon Simple Syrup (Optional)

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (22 milliliter milliliters) lemon juice from zested lemon
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (22 milliliter milliliters) cold water

Meringue Topping

  • 4 large egg whites at room temperature
  • pinch cream of tartar
  • 1/2 cup (115 grams) caster sugar (also called superfine sugar)

Optional Garnish

  • fresh lemon slices (cut in halves or quarters)

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F (177°C).
    Lightly grease cupcake pan with non-stick baking spray, then line it with baking cups.

Make the Lemon Cupcakes

  • Sift the cake flour, baking powder, and ground ginger together 3 times. Set this dry mixture aside. 
    In a separate pitcher or measuring cup, combine the buttermilk and vanilla extract. Set this wet mixture aside as well.
  • In a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, blend together the unsalted butter, sugar, lemon zest, and kosher salt on medium speed for 1 minute.
    Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl and paddle. Begin mixing the butter-sugar mixture again, this time on medium-high speed for 3 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl and beater once during the mixing time.
  • Add the eggs to the mixing bowl- one at a time- mixing for 30 seconds. Stop the mixer and scrape the bowl down after you add each egg.
    Once both eggs have been added, increase the speed to medium-high and whip the mixture until it looks light and airy, this should take about 4 minutes. Stop the mixer 2 times to scrape down the bowl and beater.
  • Add a third of the flour to the mixer's bowl and mix just until the flour is absorbed. Next, add half of the buttermilk and mix for a few seconds.
    Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl and beaters.
    Repeat the 1/3 flour-remaining milk-remaining flour cycle, making sure to scrape down the bowl after adding the milk, and one final time after the last addition of flour.
  • Stop the mixer after 30 seconds of mixing and finish mixing the batter by hand. Use your rubber spatula to fold the batter 10 times.

Bake the Lemon Cupcakes and Make the Simple Syrup

  • Once the batter is smooth, use a #16 (or a 1/4 measuring cup) portion scoop to fill each cavity of your cupcake pan 2/3rds full of batter. 
    Bake the cupcakes for 18-20 minutes, or until they're golden and their tops spring back when lightly pressed. Avoid over-baking the cupcakes as that causes them to dry out. The tops of the cupcakes should spring back quickly when you press them.
  • Make the lemon simple syrup while the cupcakes are baking.
    In a small bowl, stir together the reserved 1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice (from the lemon you zested) and 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar. Microwave this mixture on high for 15-20 seconds.
    Once it boils, pull it out of the microwave and stir to dissolve the sugar.
  • Once the cupcakes are baked, remove their pan from the oven and brush two layers of the lemon simple syrup over the cupcakes. 
    After the cupcakes are brushed, allow them to cool in the pan for 5 minutes to allow them time to set up. Transfer the cupcakes to a cooling rack and allow them to cool completely.

Fill the Lemon Cupcakes with the Lemon Curd

  • Press an apple corer (or cookie cutter) into the center of a completely cool cupcake.
    After removing the middle, use your finger to press down any remaining cake in the center of the cupcake. This helps form a barrier between the paper liner and the lemon curd.
  • Spoon a tablespoon of the Meyer lemon curd into the hole you made in the cupcake. Gently tap the cupcake to settle the curd a bit adding a little more curd if there's a dip in the filling.
    It's okay if the curd overflows slightly (or more than slightly), but remember that the meringue needs something dry to stick to later.
    Continue removing and filling the cupcakes' centers. Set the tray of cupcakes aside while you make the Swiss meringue topping.

Make the Swiss Meringue Topping

  • Begin with a meticulously clean glass or metal mixing bowl. Fat is the enemy of egg whites as it inhibits them from developing volume.
    Begin whipping the egg whites and cream of tartar at medium-high speed. Once the whites look foamy, start slowly shaking in the sugar.
  • Once all of the sugar has been added, stop the mixer and quickly scrape down the bowl and beaters. Work quickly to avoid losing what volume you've created.
    Return the beaters to the bowl and increase the speed to high. Whip the egg whites for another 7-8 minutes, or until they are stiff peak.
    Don't whip past this point or the egg whites may break, making them look foamy and grainy. The whites should still look glossy.

Decorate and Enjoy the Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

  • Once your Swiss meringue is ready, fit a piping bag with a 1M (large star tip) or 809 (plain round tip). Fill the piping bag, but try not to be too rough transferring the meringue to the bag, or you'll deflate them.
    Pipe a mound of Swiss meringue onto each cupcake, making sure to cover the lemon meringue filling.
  • Using a butane torch, lower the flame to medium, and toast the exterior of the piped Swiss meringue. The meringue is properly torched when it swells, browns, then contracts.
    Serve as is or decorated with lemon slices.
    Enjoy the Lemon Meringue Cupcakes within 2 days of decorating. Store in the refrigerated in an uncovered container.

Notes

Swaps and Subs:

  • Use store-bought lemon curd, or replace the lemon curd with lime, mango, passion fruit, or guava curd.
  • To make your own cake flour at home: Measure out 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour. Remove 3 tablespoons of the flour from the bowl. Replace those 3 tablespoons with the same amount of cornstarch. Sift as instructed in the directions above. 
  • For homemade buttermilk: add 1 tablespoon of white distilled vinegar or lemon juice to a cup of milk. Stir together to combine, then allow this mixture to sit for 15 minutes before using as instructed.
  • If you only have salted butter, use that and omit the salt from the recipe.

Troubleshooting:

  • If you've over-whipped the egg whites, whip in another room-temperature egg white. If the mixture doesn't return to a glossy state, it may be too far gone, and you will have to start all over again.

Broiling the Meringue:

  1. Set your oven broiler to low. Place one of the rack 8-12" from the overhead heating element. 
  2. Arrange the cupcakes on a sheetpan.
  3. Place the pan into the oven and toast the meringue for 2-3 minutes under the broiler or until they're as brown as you'd like. Keep an eye on them as they will brown quickly. 

Make-Ahead and Storage Instructions:

  • To make these lemon meringue cupcakes ahead, hold off on whipping the egg whites until the day you plan to assemble and serve them.
  • The Meyer lemon curd stores well in the fridge for a few weeks. The cupcakes you can be baked, cooled, then transferred to a freezer storage bag. Freeze the cupcakes for 3 months.
  • When you're ready to assemble them, allow them to thaw at room temperature.
  • Transfer the decorated cupcakes to an open storage container and put them in the fridge uncovered. The longer Swiss meringue sits in the chilled air, the more it will weep. 

Nutrition

Calories: 391kcal | Carbohydrates: 57g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 65mg | Sodium: 238mg | Potassium: 97mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 35g | Vitamin A: 448IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 63mg | Iron: 1mg