July Martha Stewart Cupcake Calendar Challenge: Lemon Meringue Cupcake

Lemon is my second favorite flavor. To chocolate, that is (obvi).  Well maybe coconut is second.  So it is up for debate.  Right-o.  Well,  regardless, I had been eyeing this cupcake for some time.  Who can overlook the stunning billowy meringue peaks?  Not I.  Always one with a taste for drama, after all, I am a Leo.

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I made the lemon curd and the cakes the day before serving.  I had no trouble with either, however the curd always takes me longer than any directions say, probably because I am worried about burning it.  The day of serving the little cakes, I whipped up the frosting, what a joy a 7 minute frosting is!  So satisfyingly voluminous!  I was a bit worried because old Martha said to serve the cakes immediately, however I was waiting a few hours.  This was no issue, they maintained their integrity.  My only gripe about this recipe is that due to there being 3 components, it is sugar overload for the eater.  I think they would be super adorable in mini form. I would think they would be lovely at a wedding or baby shower.

In other news, we are going to the beach in a few weeks with some friends and are responsible for 2 meals.  Any suggestions for easy crowd favorites?  I was thinking bbq chicken but would love to know your thoughts, dear reader!

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes
by Martha Stewart

Lemon Cupcakes
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons (about 1 1/2 tablespoons), plus 1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
Lemon Curd
7 Minute Frosting

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
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 until incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in zest and vanilla. Add flour mixture in three 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 centers comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes. Cupcakes can be stored overnight at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.
4. To finish, spread 1 tablespoon lemon curd onto middle of each cupcake. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a large open-star tip (Ateco #828 or Wilton #8B) with frosting. Pipe frosting onto each cupcake, swirling tip slightly and releasing as you pull up to form a peak. Hold a small kitchen torch 3 to 4 inches from surface of frosting, and wave it back and forth until frosting is lightly browned all over. Serve immediately.

Lemon Curd
4 large egg yolks
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
1/2 cup sugar
1/16 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces

1. Combine yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar in a heavy-bottom saucepan; whisk to combine. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon (be sure to scrape the sides of the pan), until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, 8 to 10 minutes, and registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.
2. Remove saucepan from heat. Add salt and butter, one piece at a time, stirring until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve into a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled and set, at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.

7 Minute Frosting
3/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoons light corn syrup
3 large egg whites, room temperature

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