Searching for a fun springtime dessert to brighten up your kitchen and baking repertoire? Look no further. This recipe perfectly pairs all of our favourite flavours of lemon meringue pie, alongside fluffy vanilla cupcakes. Filled with tangy lemon curd and topped with pillow-soft toasted meringue clouds, these cupcakes are bursting with flavour and charm. Gently toasting the meringue is not only a cool kitchen trick, but the caramelized sugar and crisp exterior offers another layer of flavour and texture.
Resting time for the cupcakes is 3 hours.
For the lemon curd, combine the egg yolks, sugar, lemon juice and zest in a small saucepan. Whisk the ingredients together until smooth. Cook, while slowly stirring consistently with a heat-safe spatula, over medium heat until the curd thickens (7 to 10 minutes) and coats the back of a spoon. Strain the curd into a heat-safe container with a mesh sieve. Stir in the butter, one piece. 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 3 hours) before using.
For the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a cupcake pan with paper liners and set aside. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. Into an electric mixer bowl fitted with the paddle attachment (or a bowl with a hand mixer), massage the sugar and lemon zest together between your fingertips until very fragrant. Add the butter and mix on medium until light and fluffy, 2 to 5 minutes. With the mixer on low, add the vanilla and eggs, one at a time. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bowl. 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. Fill the cupcake liners no more than 2/3 of the way full and bake for 20 to 24 minutes in the middle rack or until a toothpick inserted into the centres comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes on a wire rack before assembling.
For the meringue, put the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Briefly whisk them together by hand until just combined. 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. 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. Use immediately.
For the assembly, use a paring knife or apple corer to remove the centres of the cooled cupcakes. Spoon 1 to 2 tablespoons of lemon curd into the centre of each cupcake. Top the cupcakes with a large dollop of meringue and gently toast with a kitchen torch. cupcakes immediately. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.