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  • The Chopping Blog

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes are Full of Surprises

Posted by Andrea on Jul 28, 2020

Cupcakes are my favorite dessert to make for parties and now that we are living in COVID-19 times, they are even more perfect for your small gatherings. You don't have to share utensils from cutting slices of cake, everyone touches only the mini cake that they are going to eat, and the wrapper goes in the trash. 

Even before we couldn't have gatherings of more than 10 people, I still loved the cupcake for entertaining. It's the perfect dessert portion, you only need one hand to eat them (which leaves the other free for a glass of wine), I get to use my handy cupcake carrier when I transport them, and everyone loves cupcakes - both kids and adults.

I've made every flavor of cupcakes you can think of over the years, from Oreo Cupcakes with Cookies and Cream Frosting to Tres Leche Cupcakes to cupcakes inspired by the famous and my beloved King Cakes served during Mardi Gras. If you are feeling ambitious, you don't have to decide between vanilla or chocolate when you make multiple flavors to give guests a variety to choose from. 

One of the things I love to do with cupcakes is include a surprise filling. The cake batter and frosting are certainly important, but a fun filling in the middle adds another level of flavor and upgrades the cupcake experience. One of my favorite filled cupcakes are Lemon Meringue Cupcakes, which replicate the pie's flavors with a tangy and creamy lemon curd surprise.  

plated cupcake

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

Adapted from Food Network

Makes: 14 cupcakes

For the Lemon Curd:

3 large egg yolks (reserve the whites for the meringue)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Zest of 1 lemon
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, diced

For the Cupcakes:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2/3 cup buttermilk
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

For the Meringue:

3 large egg whites (reserved from making the lemon curd)
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


For the Lemon Curd:

1. Combine the egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice and zest in a small saucepan. Whisk the ingredients together until smooth.

lemon curd 1

lemon curd 2

2. Cook, while whisking consistently, over medium heat until the curd thickens (7 to 10 minutes) and coats the back of a spoon.

lemon curd 3

3. Whisk in the butter, one piece at a time, until smooth.

lemon curd butter

4. Press a piece of plastic wrap directly to the surface of the curd. Refrigerate the lemon curd until it completely cools and thickens (at least 2 hours) before using.

lemon curd plastic

For the Cupcakes:

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a cupcake pan with paper liners and set aside.

2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or a bowl with a hand mixer), mix the sugar and lemon zest together. Add the butter and mix on medium until light and fluffy, 2 to 5 minutes.

4. With the mixer on low, add the vanilla and eggs, one at a time. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl.

5. With the mixer on low, add half of the dry ingredients until combined. Add in the buttermilk and lemon juice and mix until absorbed. Add in the remaining dry ingredients and mix until smooth.

6. Use a scoop to fill the cupcake liners 2/3 of the way full and bake for 20 minutes. Cool the cupcakes before assembling.

scoop cupcakes

cupcakes batter

cupcakes baked

For the Meringue:

1. Put the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Briefly whisk them together by hand using the whisk attachment until just combined.

2. In a medium saucepan, bring an inch or two of water to a simmer over medium-low heat. Place the stand mixer bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double boiler (be sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water). Heat the mixture, whisking occasionally, until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is hot to touch.

whisk meringue

3. Carefully place the bowl back on the stand mixer and fit the mixer with the whisk attachment. Beat the egg white mixture on high speed until glossy, medium-stiff peaks form, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the vanilla and mix until combined. 

stand mixer meringue

meringue peaks

To Assemble: 

1. Use a cupcake plunge or paring knife to remove the centers of the cooled cupcakes. 

Here are some tips on using this tool:

  • When you plunge it into the cupcake, only go about two thirds of the way down, not all the way to the bottom.
  • Twist the plunger several times. 
  • Lift the cupcake to the side so that the cupcake stays in the plunger when you pull it out. 
  • Discard the cupcake middle into a bowl.
  • Be sure to eat the cupcake middles! 

cupcake plunger in

cupcake with hole

cupcake plunger

cupcakes with holes

2. Spoon 1 to 2 tablespoons of lemon curd into the opening of each cupcake.

cupcakes with lemon curd

3. Heat broiler on high. Top the cupcakes with a large dollop of meringue and swirl with a small offset spatulal to form a slight point. Put under the broiler for less than a minute to toast the meringue. I keep the oven door open so that I can watch these like a hawk and rotate as necessary to avoid scorching the beautiful cupcakes. You can also use a kitchen torch if you have one (I do not).

cupcakes with toasted meringue

I made these mini cakes recently for a friend's birthday celebration. Our youngest twin two-year-old guests sure enjoyed them!

cupcake kids

Don't you want to see these smiles on some little ones (or big ones) that you know? This week is the perfect time to break out those muffin tins and make some cupcakes. You can meet the challenge for our private Facebook group this week.

Cupcakes Challenge

Join our group and post your cupcake creations to share with other members. 

Join our Facebook Group

If you want to learn how to make a vegan and gluten-free version of cupcakes, don't miss our special virtual baking class with Penny's Pastries, a woman-owned small business located in Chicago. With allergies of her own, Penny has found the tastiest and healthiest way to make sure no one has to skip sweets. Our chef will demonstrate one of Penny's most popular recipes: Vegan and Gluten-Free Carrot Cake Cupcakes with Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting.

Register now


Topics: lemon, meringue, cupcake, cupcakes, baking, Recipes

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