Lemon meringue pie has to be one of the freshest, tastiest fruit pies. Imagine creating that same zesty, tangy tasty flavour and aroma into a delicious fluffy cupcake. The same lemon centre made with an easy homemade fresh lemon curd, topped with a slightly sweet, light and perfect Italian meringue that feels like you are biting into a cloud of flavour.
These Lemon Meringue Cupcakes can be made a day ahead which makes it easier when assembling these delicious treats later. You will then only need to make my quick and easy fresh lemon curd, followed by my no fail Italian Meringue.
Watch my How to make Lemon Meringue Cupcakes video.
Watch how my Zesty Lemon Cupcakes are made.
Watch my Step by Step easy to make Lemon Curd video.
Watch my Italian Meringue recipe how to video.
Lemon Meringue Cupcakes
Lemon Meringue Cupcake topped with Italian Meringue and Lemon Curd Centre
Author: Katherine Walton
For the Zesty Lemon Cupcakes
-120 grams salted butter (room temperature)
-220 grams (1 metric cup) of caster sugar
-2 teaspoons lemon rind
-1 tablespoon (20 ml) freshly squeezed lemon juice
-2 large eggs lightly whisked (room temperature)
-150 grams (1 metric cup) self-raising flour
-100 grams (3/4 metric cup) cornflour
-175 ml milk (3/4 metric cup) (room temperature)
For the Lemon Curd
-110 grams (1 metric cup) of caster sugar
-40 grains (1/4 metric cup) cornflour
-125 ml (1/2 metric cup) of tap water
-65 ml (1/4 metric cup) freshly squeezed lemon juice
-1 teaspoon lemon rind
-30 grams unsalted butter at room temperature
-1 egg yolk lightly whisked at room temperature
For the Italian Meringue
-110 grams of egg whites (or the egg whites from 3 eggs) at room temperature
-1/2 teaspoon of cream of tartar or 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice
-220 grams (1 metric cup) caster sugar
-125 ml (1/2 metric cup) Water
-Digital food thermometer
Firstly, make the Zesty Lemon Cupcakes.
- Preheat oven to 150 degrees Celsius fan forced (300 Fahrenheit; Gas Mark 2). Line cupcake baking tray with cupcake liners. This recipe makes 12 cupcakes.
- Place butter in mixing bowl of stand mixer and beat until very pale. Scrape the bowl as needed.
- Add caster sugar and continue to mix until very pale and well combined.
- Scrape bowl as needed.
- Add lemon rind and lemon juice and continue to mix until well combined.
- Add the whisked eggs in 2 batches, beating well between each addition.
- Combine flours together in a separate bowl ensuring they are well combined, then add 1/2 a cup at a time in batches with the milk into the batter and mix lightly on low speed until just combined.
- Scrape bowl as needed.
- Ensuring you do not over mix. Once the flour disappears in the mixture you can stop the mixer.
- Finish mixing the batter by hand with a silicone spatula. Do not over mix.
- Fill the cupcake liners with batter in equal measurements. This recipe serves 12 cupcakes with 1/4 cup of batter for each. Otherwise fill 3/4 of the cupcake liner, depending on the size of your cupcake liner.
- Bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes. But remember that all ovens vary. Check if cooked by inserting a toothpick. If it comes out clean it’s ready. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before moving onto a cooling rack to cool completely before icing.
Secondly, make the lemon curd.
- Add caster sugar, cornflour, water and lemon juice to small pan. Stir ingredients with a metal spoon until all well combined.
- Cook over medium heat, stirring with a metal spoon constantly. Do not let mixture stick to the bottom of the pan or burn.
- Mixture will begin to thicken up after a few minutes.
- Continue to stir until mixture thickens and becomes smooth.
- Add the butter and whisked egg yolk and cook for three minutes until all well combined.
- Do not let the curd stick to the pan or burn. Continue to stir through.
- Add the lemon rind and stir through until smooth and well combined.
- Set aside and refrigerate immediately. The lemon curd will harden in the fridge, therefore will need to bring to room temperature to soften it and be able to pipe it into the Lemon Cupcake.
Thirdly, make the Italian Meringue
- Separate the egg whites from the egg yolk when the eggs are cold. Then leave the egg whites in a bowl covered at room temperature.
- Place caster sugar and water in a small sauce pan with a long handle. Mix sugar and water with a metal spoon and cook over medium heat stirring until sugar is dissolved.
- Stir from time to time and ensure sugar crystals do not form on the sides of the saucepan by brushing with a silicone pastry brush or with the metal spoon.
- Increase heat to medium-high. Leave cooking.
- In the meantime while sugar and water cook, whisk egg whites and cream of tartar in a clean metal or glass stand mixer bowl free of grease. If in doubt wipe bowl with lemon juice or vinegar.
- Whisk on low to medium speed for 1 minute then increase to medium speed until soft peak forms.
- Return to sugar and water syrup, increase heat to highest. Watch the temperature and that sugar syrup does not burn. Final temperature must reach 115 degrees Celsius (239 Fahrenheit).
- When temperature has reached 115 degrees Celsius (239 Fahrenheit) and the meringue has reached soft peaks and increased in volume, increase mixer speed to medium-high.
- Then remove pan from heat and while the mixer is still running slowly pour hot sugar syrup in a steady stream on one side of the mixer bowl.
- The meringue should start to become thicker, increase in more volume and become shiny. Do not over mix. Once you see that the meringue starts to become shiny stop the mixer and check for stiff peaks with a spoon.
- The meringue should not move or in any way be soft or runny. If the meringue looks frothy or like it’s starting to separate you have mixed for too long.
- Remove meringue from mixer bowl and set aside.
Lastly, assemble the lemon meringue cupcakes by watching my first video above in this post.
How are the ingredients measured in this recipe?
In this recipe and in all of my recipes I provide all ingredients in grams and in mL where applicable. I also provide the ingredient quantities in METRIC cup measurements. However, be aware that cup measurements and spoon measurements vary in different countries. Therefore, I highly recommended the use of scales where applicable to measure ingredients to achieve exactly what the recipe intends.
What is caster sugar and can I substitute it in any of these recipes?
Caster Sugar is also known as super fine granulated sugar. Not to be confused or replaced with icing sugar also known as powdered sugar. It is recommended that the caster sugar in the Zesty Lemon Cupcakes recipe is not replaced or substituted. The sugar will be creamed with the butter and not dissolved, therefore it is recommend to use fine granulated sugar instead of standard white sugar. However, you may replace the caster sugar with standard granulated white sugar in the lemon curd and Italian Meringue recipes as the sugar is dissolved in liquid.
This recipe says to use self raising flour for the Zesty Lemon Cupcakes. Can I replace it or substitute it?
Yes you may substitute the self raising flour in this recipe. You may replace it by using 1 metric cup (150 grams) of plain flour plus 1 teaspoon of baking powder.
What can I do if my cupcakes are not baking as intended and burning or browning?
All ovens vary. If you find that your cupcakes are burning or browning before they are completely baked, you may need to adjust the temperature of your oven by lowering it by 10-20 degrees Celsius. The position of the baking tray in the oven can sometimes also affect baked goods. In some ovens placing your tray in the bottom may brown or burn your cakes from the bottom. The same can occur by placing your tray in the top rack if your oven’s heating element is located on the roof of the oven. Always check and learn how your oven works.
How to separate egg whites from egg yolks?
It is best to separate the egg whites from the egg yolk when the eggs are cold. Then leave the egg whites in a bowl covered to bring to room temperature.
Do you need to use a food thermometer?
I recommend the use of a digital food thermometer in order to know if the temperature of the sugar syrup has reached 115 degrees Celsius (239 Fahrenheit), which is the soft ball stage the sugar syrup needs to reach.
How to store these Lemon Meringue Cupcakes and what is their shelf life?
These cupcakes should be kept refrigerated for up to 3-5 days due to the nature of the Lemon curd in them. However, you may find that the Italian Meringue may start to separate after a few days. Bring them to room temperature before serving. This will make the cupcakes soft and tender again.
Don’t forget to leave me a comment if you have any questions. Enjoy!