If you love lemon meringue pie then you are going to love this fun twist on the classic. It’s everything you love about a lemon meringue pie in cupcake form! A lemon meringue cupcake with a lemon shortbread crust, lemon curd center, and a toasted meringue frosting!
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When it comes to dessert I’m usually quick to lean towards something covered in chocolate. Lemon isn’t usually high on my list. But then there is lemon meringue pie. That sweet tangy lemon curd, buttery shortbread crust, and sweet fluffy toasted meringue topping. I mean move over chocolate it’s lemon meringue pie.
So then what could be better then mashing up a cupcake with a pie version of lemon meringue? If anyone in your family or circle of friends loves lemon meringue they are going to absolutely scarf a few of these down.
These lemon meringue cupcakes were what every cupcake wish they could be. Are they a pie? A cupcake? The most perfect dessert you can fit in your hand? D. All of the above.
I actually learned how to make these cupcakes from a Craftsy class I enrolled in, The Perfect Cupcake (w/ Jennifer Shea), it’s all online which is fantastic! If you have never taken one of their classes man I’m telling you, you are going to get hooked.
So this is my version of one of the cupcakes I learned how to make. It all starts with a lemon shortbread crust that gets baked right into your cupcake liner (I used these super cute cupcake liners) before adding your batter. The shortbread could be eaten on its own it’s that tasty.
The key to this shortbread crust is using COLD unsalted butter. Cold ingredients is KEY. Why cold? Cold ingredients don’t interact well together. And that’s super important when it comes to your pie dough. You do not want that butter playing well with the flour. Chunks of butter visible in your pie dough in the end means flaky crust for you. Those chunks of butter will then melt in the oven and create pockets of flaky goodness for you. So think cold. VERY cold. The butter, the water, even the flour! I like to use frozen butter that has been cut into small cubes. If your butter isn’t frozen when you start, cut the butter into small cubes and then place in your freezer. Be sure to also use ice cold water! When I go to make pie dough. I put ice cubes in my measuring cup of water that I plan to use. Your pie dough should never go above 60 degrees F (room temperature). If it’s a warm day. Just keep placing your ingredients, or your dough back in the fridge if things are getting too warm and toasty for you. Here are 3 more tips on pie dough so you can master it in no time.
This pie dough tastes a like a shortbread cookie so there is a little bit of sugar added to the pie dough. It’s also made with cake flour unlike traditional crusts that use all purpose flour. Cake flour has a lower protein content than all purpose flour, around 6%, compared to 10-12% content which means you end up with a more tender crust. Because of the tender flour being used, you need to chill this pie dough for an hour. You can definitely make this part of the cupcake a few days ahead of time. Simply wrap in plastic wrap well and store in your fridge.
Once the dough is chilled you need to roll this out and cut out small circles that will fit into the bottom of your cupcake liners. For this part, I used my Atecco 2-inch circle cutter which is a part of this set. The mini little pie discs now need to par-baked before adding your cupcake batter for 8 minutes.
Once you have baked the crust for a few minutes, you need to add in your lemon cupcake batter. I used my go to vanilla cupcake recipe with the addition of lemon zest and lemon juice. We really are driving home the lemon flavor here, folks.
Ok now onto the filling. Lemon curd. Man this stuff is seriously good. Now you can make some yourself and I have a great recipe for you that’s made in your microwave! Yup, microwave. (insert happy dance). Or just go and buy a jar. It’s ok, you deserve a break with this cupcake to not have it all 100% homemade.
Once your cupcakes are cooled, you are going to want to fill them with your lemon curd. If you aren’t sure on how to fill your cupcake- then give this post on 4 ways to core a cupcake a read. You can also watch this video I created on how to core a cupcake too!
Ok now onto the frosting. 7-minute frosting. Dear lord. It’s so good. Can you tell I seriously love this cupcake? This frosting is a bit more involved, but honestly it’s super easy. Promise. It starts with heating egg whites, corn syrup, sugar, and water in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (I use the metal bowl of my stand mixer for this). You will actually whisk or beat this over the heat for 7-minutes. This frosting is super easy to make, if you use a hand mixer to get this done or you could also use a stick blender.
Once you have piped the frosting onto your cupcakes, you will want to give the frosting a slight torch. I’m totally in love with my kitchen torch I bought recently. I have another cupcake I used it for recently- I shared the picture on Instagram if you follow me there- so stay tuned for that recipe!
Why This Recipe Works: Some cupcakes are usually just one texture and one note. But these cupcakes have everything you love in a bigger dessert. You get the difference in texture from the frosting to the cupcake to the curd to the crust. Adding both lemon juice and lemon zest to the cupcake really produced a fresh tasting lemon cupcake. And using cake flour in both the crust and cupcake results in a very tender crumb. But it’s the lemon curd in the middle that really makes you feel like you’re eating lemon meringue pie. Cupcakes can be sometimes simple but this is anything but. Yes there are a few more steps involved. But if you make the pie crust ahead and make your lemon curd in the microwave you can make this whole process much easier. In the end you are going to have a dessert that is going to WOW everyone.
How is Cake Flour Different Than All Purpose Flour?
Cake flour has a lower protein content than all purpose flour, usually around 6 percent. All purpose flour has a protein content anywhere between 10-12 percent, depending on brand. Cake flour is a softer flour than all purpose flour because it’s milled from the heart of the endosperm (the middle part of the grain kernel). Cake flour is also bleached, which also weakens the protein. Because the protein is weakened means the formation of gluten will be also drastically reduced. So by using cake flour in your cupcakes, less gluten will be formed which result in a product that is softer and more tender in texture! (Source: Alton Brown’s I’m Just Here For More Food)
More Recipes To Try
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Lemon Meringue Pie Cupcakes
For the Shortbread Crust
- ¾ cup (170 g) cold, unsalted butter
- 3 Tablespoons cold water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar plus more for sprinkling on
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (190 g) cake flour
For the Cupcakes
- 3 cups (360 g) cake flour
- 1 tablespoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 16 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
- 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
- 5 large eggs at room temperature
- 1¼ cups (300 ml) buttermilk at room temperature
- 2 Tablespoons vanilla extract
- zest and juice of 1 lemon
- lemon curd for filling
For the frosting
- 3 large egg whites room temperature room temperature
- 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) cold water
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the crust
- Preheat the oven to 400 F . Prepare your cupcake pans with cupcake liners and set aside.
- Put the bowl and paddle attachment of a stand mixer in the refrigerator. Slice each stick of butter lengthwise and then across into 8 pieces, and refrigerate the butter. Put the cold water in a small cup, add the 1 ½ teaspoons sugar and salt, stir to dissolve, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
- Remove the bowl, paddle, butter, and water mixture from the refrigerator. Sift the flour into the bowl, and position the bowl in the stand. Add the cold butter pieces and mix at the slowest speed until they are the size of peas. Slowly add the water mixture and mix just until it is incorporated and the dough just starts to come together. If the dough won’t hold together, add a little more cold water, 1 teaspoon at a time. Be careful not to overmix.
- Form the dough into two flattened discs, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- Remove the chilled dough discs from the refrigerator. Roll out one disc on a lightly floured surface until no more than ¼-inch (6-mm) thick. Use a 2–inch (5-cm) round cookie cutter to cut out about 30 pieces of dough (for the bottom crusts of the cupcakes). Place in the bottom of your cupcake liners. Bake for 8 minutes.
For the cupcakes
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine the cake flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together and set aside.
- Add the butter to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until light and creamy in color. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for one more minute.
- Add the sugar to the butter mixture, ¼ cup at a time, beating 1 minute after each addition. Mix in the eggs one at a time until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Combine the buttermilk and the vanilla extract in a liquid measuring cup. With the mixer on low speed, add the dry ingredients alternately with the wet ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing just until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix for 15 seconds longer.
- Divide the batter between the prepared paper liners, filling each about 2/3 of the way full (you will likely have batter left over after filling 24 wells .I managed to make a full 3 dozen cupcakes). Bake 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Once cooled, cut out the center of your cupcake and fill with lemon curd.
For the frosting
- Combine the egg whites, sugar, water, and corn syrup in a large stainless steel bowl or any other heatproof bowl. Use an electric handheld mixer to beat the ingredients together until well combined. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Continue to beat on medium-low speed for 3 minutes. Turn the speed up to high and beat for 3-4 minutes or until soft peaks begin to form.
- Remove from heat, add the vanilla extract, and continue beating on high until the frosting is thick and spreadable, about 1-2 minutes. Cool to room temperature and use immediately. Pipe onto your cupcakes with a piping bag and pastry tip (I used a French star tip, but any tip will do.) Then lightly torch the frosting with a kitchen torch. Alternately, you could place them in your oven (put them on a cookie sheet, and no closer than middle rack) and set to broil but keep a really close eye one them otherwise they will burn!
- Make Ahead: You can make the pie crust 2 days ahead of time and keep in the fridge. You can make the cupcakes, unfrosted, 2 days ahead of time and keep covered on the counter.
- Freezing: I would not freeze the cupcakes if they are frosted. The frosting will not hold up well. But you can freeze baked unfrosted cupcakes, wrapped well for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature and frost as directed.