Happy spring everyone!
The weather has finally decided to warm up a little over here in Michigan. That means its time for some light & fruity cupcakes!
One dessert that I think has the perfect balance of tart & sweet is a simple lemon meringue pie! But I'm not much of a pie making girl, so I turned the springtime classic into a cupcake!
I started with a light lemon cake, filled with a tart homemade lemon curd and topped with a toasted meringue frosting. The perfect dessert for Easter!
Lets start with some cake...
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
Finely grated zest of 3 lemons (about 3 tablespoons), plus 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.
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.
2. 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 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.
Some cute liners for Easter!
The batter is pretty thick once combined.
I like this recipe because they are light and fluffy!
Now we need some filling...
This is probably the most foolproof and easy lemon curd recipe I've ever made. It came out a little bit tart (which I like), so if you prefer a sweeter filling then you can add 1/4-1/2 cup more sugar.
-makes about 2 cups
6 Tbs unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup sugar (extra for a sweeter, less tart filling)
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
1.In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer, about 2 min. Slowly add the eggs and yolks. Beat for 1 min. Mix in the lemon juice. The mixture will look curdled, but it will smooth out as it cooks.
2. In a medium saucepan, cook the mixture over low heat until it looks smooth. (The curdled appearance disappears as the butter in the mixture melts.) Increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 15 minutes. It should leave a path on the back of a spoon and will read 170°F on a thermometer. Don't let the mixture boil, it will overcook and actually curdle the eggs. If this happens, depending on the severity you might be able to save it by stirring vigorously with a metal whisk while the curd is still hot.
3. Remove the curd from the heat; stir in the lemon zest. Transfer the curd to a bowl. Press plastic wrap on the surface of the lemon curd to keep a skin from forming and chill the curd in the refrigerator. The curd will thicken further as it cools. Covered tightly, it will keep in the refrigerator for a week and in the freezer for 2 months.
I made my lemon curd the day before so it could chill in the fridge overnight.
Don't forget to prepare your cupcakes for filling, I used the cone method!
I used a small pairing knife to cut out the cones, then trimmed them reserving the top of the cupcake. The cone trimmings are perfect for taste testing =]
You could always pipe the filling in, but I found using a teaspoon was just fine.
Now that the cupcakes are filled, its time for some frosting!!
So a traditional lemon meringue pie uses a French meringue, raw egg whites whipped with granulated sugar.
But since I needed a more stable topping for cupcakes, I decided to go with an Italian meringue; which is sugar syrup cooked to the soft-ball stage (234-240 degrees) poured into firmly whipped egg whites.
Italian Meringue Frosting
-enough to frost 24 cupcakes
3 egg whites, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup water
1. In a saucepan, mix sugar, water and cream of tartar. Cook on medium heat until sugar is dissolved and mixture is at soft ball stage(234-240 degrees).
2. In a large bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Slowly add hot sugar mixture, beating continuously. Beat for 7 minutes until stiff peaks form.
3. Frost cupcakes immediately, frosting will set once cooled. Store cupcakes in refrigerator up to 3 days. Best eaten on same day, or if brought to room temperature first.
Pouring the hot sugar into the whipped egg whites.
I love how this meringue looks so shiny and white! It dulls some once set though.
Cupcakes lined up and ready to be toasted!!
Be careful not to light your cupcake liners on fire though! (I almost did, oops!)
Look at that yummy filling!
I hope everyone had a great Easter!