Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

I may have chided myself once or twice for my over-commitment-issues. The day that I made these lemon meringue cupcakes exemplify of this trait. I woke up at 4:30am on a Saturday to start working on these. Why? WELL. This little one decided to plan a graduation party an hour after my Saturday class ends (providing loads of time to set up, etc.). My Saturday class, mind you, starts at 8:00am, I usually try to be there at about 7:30, and the class lasts until noon. Oh and it’s a couple of towns over, about half an hour away when traffic cooperates. 

So. I was pressed for time. You would think at some point I would cut back on my scheduling, but I can’t do it. This is my way of life. So, anyway, I’m baking up a storm at 4:30 with the original intention of making pavlovas. But the pavlova failed. It didn’t rise at all. It looked so miserable! 

With only a limited amount of time, I quickly decided to make “lemonade” out of the situation and turned the flat, but delicious, meringue into lemon meringue cupcakes. The meringue recipe I have included below is not the one I used to make my meringue (because that was a flop), but it is a tried-and-true method for lovely cupcake-topping goodness, I promise. 

I made mini cupcakes and used a gorgeous flower-shaped petit four baking dish I was given several years ago and just love. 

The petit fours didn’t make it into the party, but they did enjoy the view from the car where I left them and were delicious the next day (how many times am I going to abandon party food in my car?!) in any event. 

The finished product was great and they ended up looking like I spent forever on them. Little did the party-goers know that they were just eating my failure. 
Lemon Meringue Cupcakes
Makes appx. 20 standard-sized cupcakes, 40 mini-sized cupcakes, or 3 dozen petit fours

For the lemon cupcakes, you will need:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (the kind you can get at the supermarket is fine, or you can juice fresh lemons – if you do, reserve the zest)
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt (plain)
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp. lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp. lime zest
  • 2 cups all purpose white flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • Line muffin tin with 20 liners (for standard-sized cupcakes) or 40 (for mini cupcakes) and preheat the oven to 350.
  • Place the butter, water, and lemon juice in a large saucepan. Set to low-medium heat to melt the butter and remove when the butter is a smooth consistency, stirring occasionally. 
  • Transfer to a large bowl and stir in sugar, yogurt, eggs (beat slightly first), vanilla extract, and zests. 
  •  In a separate small bowl, mix together the flour, salt, and baking soda mixture. 
  • Gradually stir dry ingredients into the larger bowl. The batter will be pretty thin, but it comes together in the oven like magic. 
  • Bake for 10 minutes (mini sized) to 20 minutes (standard sized), depending on the size of the cupcake you’re working with. Let cool completely before glazing and topping with meringue. 

For the vanilla meringue, you will need:

  • 4 egg whites
  • 6 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • light dash sea salt

Meringue method:

  • Preheat the oven to 350.
  • Whisk together the egg whites until they become glossy and slightly stiffen. 
  • In a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients. 
  • Gradually incorporate the sugar mixture into the egg white bowl, stirring constantly. 
  • Bake for 12-15 minutes on a lined pan (I used aluminum foil to line a pie tin).

For the glaze, you will need: 

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Grated zest of one lemon
Glaze method:
  • Pour sugar in a medium-sized bowl; stir in lemon juice and keep on stirring until you reach desired consistency. You may add more lemon juice or sugar to suit your tastes. 
  • Stir in the lemon zest last. 
To assemble the cupcakes:

  • For petit fours: cut each petit four in half and spread the meringue in the center (like a cake macaroon, maybe, or a mini layer cake). Next, dip the petit fours in the glaze (pretty side down) and let the glaze harden. 
  • For cupcakes: use the glaze as a glue to help the meringue stay on top of the cupcakes. Genius, I know. Dip the cupcakes (gently) in the glaze and used a tablespoon scoop for the mini cupcakes (I didn’t make large cupcakes – just petit fours and mini cupcakes). Using the tablespoon measuring spoon was great because it gave a perfectly rounded shape to the tops of all of the cupcakes. 

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