Sunday, February 6, 2011

La La Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

Today would have been my mother's 91st birthday.  She passed away in 1987 and this day has become one of those days in my life, filled with memories, and hard to get I bake. She only had 67 years and as I've come to know, left us way to early.

I remember, so clearly her Lemon Meringue Pie and next to chocolate, my mother loved lemon desserts.  I think she made the best lemon meringue pie I've ever had and I know a favorite of my Dad's, although he said everything she made was his favorite :D

I also remember learning how to make pie crust and what blind baking was from her recipe, not to mention how to properly add a hot substance to egg yolks so they don't "scramble."  Then, there was making the meringue from the egg whites, adding the sugar gradually so it dissolved into the white mountains and didn't "weep."  This pie created the foundation for my love of baking.

This recipe popped into my head a few weeks ago to honor her birthday, but moreover, bring back memories of baking with her.  This has all the lemony richness of her pie rolled into a cupcake, including a gooey marshmellowy meringue that I toasted with a small kitchen torch.  I know she would approved and so would Dad.

La La Lemon Meringue Cupcakes
Lemon filling:
1/2 cup granualted sugar
1 1/2 T cornstarch
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 egg yolk
1 T unsalted butter
1 tsp. lemon zest

In a saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch and whisk to combine.  Add the water, lemon juice and egg yolk and whisk again.  Place over medium heat and while whisking constantly, cook until mixture is thick and a clear lemony color.  Remove from heat and add the butter and zest.  Stir until the butter has melted. 

Pour into a glass bowl and chill several hours.  Alternatively, you can purchase a pre-made Lemon Curd, but this recipe is actually from my mother's lemon cheesecake recipe and makes these cupcakes even more special.

Lemon Cupcakes:
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs + 2 egg yolks (you'll use the whites in the frosting)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 T lemon zest
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup lemon bits

Preheat oven 350F-degrees and line cupcake pan with paper cups.
In the KitchenAid, with the whisk attachment, beat the butter until fluffy.  Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.  Add the eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Zest two lemons.

then, cut the lemons in half and squeeze the juice.
Add the juice and zest to the batter and beat to combine.  Change to the paddle attachment.  Sift the dry ingredients and add to the batter, alternately with the buttermilk--starting and ending with the flour.
Stir in the lemon bits (if using).
Scoop batter into a paper-lined cupcake pan, filling three-quarters full.
Bake 18 to 20 minutes (mine took exactly 18) until golden and when touched on top, they spring back.
Remove from the oven and let cool 10 minutes.  Bake the remainder of the batter.
Let the cupcakes cool completely.  Meanwhile, make up the Frosting.

Fluffy Seven-Minute Frosting:

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup cold water
2 egg whites (leftover from the cake batter)
2 tsp. Light Karo Syrup
pinch of salt
2 tsp. Vanilla extract

Create a double boiler using the bowl from the KitchenAid to all the ingredients except the vanilla extract.  Fill a large saucepan (one that will support the bowl) with about 2 inches of water and set on a medium high heat. Use a hand mixer to beat the ingredients until frothy.  Place the bowl over the boiling water, making sure the water is low enough not to touch the KitchenAid bowl.
Use the hand mixer, continue to beat, over the simmering water bath, for approximately 7 minutes or until the mixture is stiff enough to hold a peak.
Remove from heat and add the vanilla.  Beat an additional 2 minutes to combine.
I used an apple corer to remove the center of the cupcake and filled it with the lemon filling.
Fill a pastry bag with the Seven-Minute Frosting and a large #808 tip, pipe the frosting, swirling around the pastry bag and accentuating the tip of the meringue.
Finally, use a small kitchen torch to "toast" the meringue.
Remembering your birthday, Mom and missing you, love Me.  Enjoy!


  1. Lemon Meringue pie is a childhood memory for me and a favorite! My Nana would make them and she was always happy to see kids eat so she was known to always have a special treat and would take great joy in just sitting with us for tea and pie. She loved lemon treats too, it is kind of a loving memory or 'saying' in our family 'would you mind getting me a lemon square' as she got older and we came to visit she would be known to ask for a lemon square from the bakery : ) You would have loved her and she would have loved you! Happy birthday to your mom, she must have been a very special person! And by the way lemon meringue cupcakes!!! Genius! : ) xoxo

  2. Wow, what fancy looking cupcakes. I love how fluffy and high your meringue is. Definitely a good idea for a delicious cupcake. I have a sweet treat linky party going on at my blog called "Sweets for a Saturday (it will be open till Monday) and I'd like to invite you to stop by and link your cupcakes up.

  3. I made blueberry muffins this morning because it reminded me of picking blueberries at grandma's house. And funny you should mention how to add hot things to eggs without scrambling them because I remember you taught that to me and I used that today when baking a chocolate cake (early) for michael's birthday on the 9th. I love how perfect the merigues are on your cupcakes!

  4. Erin~isn't it nice how tradition is; one day, you'll show Maddie how to add a hot mixture to eggs and it's like Grandma is still around. xoxo

    Lisa~I can't wait to see your blog! Cookies are my weakness :D

    Nicole~I may have missed knowing your Nana, but I feel like I know her through you--a remarkable woman, for sure! xoxo

  5. Mom would love these cupcakes!!! And Dad, too. (And me three!) I love the way you just think up these amazing creations!! GENIUS!! I have never been able to make a lemon meringue pie and I doubt seriously that I could make these beautiful cupcakes---but I do make a really good lemon cheesecake using Mom's recipe. Happy 91st birthday, Mom, I love you and miss you.

  6. Yum! I have a jar of lemon curd that I need to use up and these look like the perfect use for it. Love that browned frosting! I spotted these at the Sweets for Saturday link party.

  7. If you love lemon...these hit the spot!

  8. Lemon Meringue pie is my favorite dessert. These sound heavenly.

  9. I have to agree with Ellen on this...if I could have any dessert it would be Lemon Meringue fact that is what I request from my Mom on my birthday instead of a cake..always have.
    Your cupcakes look amazing..I actually found myself staring at the picture of them.

  10. These are gorgeous! They look divine.
    Lemon meringue reminds me of my dad. That was his favorite too, and I often made a lemon meringue pie for him for Father's Day or for his birthday. His other favorite was coconut cream. Haven't made either one in years!

  11. Denise~Funny, you mentioned coconut cream because that was another pie my mother made and I loved...maybe not as much as lemon, but right up there. Anyway, I'm working on a coconut cream cupcake; combing up soon! xoxo

  12. Susan, these look so delicious. I know Jeff would love them (the only thing he loves more than lemon is cinnamon).

    I love your stories about your mother, but I can never get through them without tears. After 27 years, I still miss my mother every day. Sometimes when I close my eyes and concentrate, I can smell her and feel the softness of her cheek on mine when she would hug me.

    I love you dear friend,

  13. Oh yumm. My mouth is watering. You are such a talented and amazing baker! Coming here inspires me to go make something in the kitchen...even late at night.


  14. I love when you do cupcakes since that is what I usually bake for our cafe at church, Thanks Susan for all your creativity! Makes me want to be you when I grow up!!