Lemon Cupcakes with Bitters, Sorrel, and Toasted Meringue25

Posted by in Citrus,Drink-Inspired,Experimental Recipe,Herbs & Flowers (Sunday January 6, 2008 at 3:59 pm)

Lemon Cupcakes with Bitters, Sorrel, and Toasted Meringue

January and citrus are a natural pair when it comes to me and cupcakes. As is typical, I ate too much chocolate and too many sweets over the holidays and really had to dig deep to find the motivation to even think of baking. But dig deep I did… Well, actually, I perused the latest issue of Imbibe (I will admit I have a recipe and photo featured in an article about cooking with tea) and stumbled on many a drink recipe that provided just the inspiration I needed.

I settled quickly on bitters as a way to counteract my overindulgence in sweets. I love bitters. Likely because I love(d) to drink Manhattans. This combination came from a couple different drink recipes (both by Lance J. Mayhew of Meriwether’s in Portland, Oregon). The bitterness and tartness of bitters and lemon appealed to my post-holiday’s sensibilities. I decided on a lemon chiffon cake to keep it light and meringue for the same reason. The end result is a pillow of sweet/bitter/tartness that is quite sophisticated (especially for a cupcake). This recipe likely won’t be for everyone and I will be interested to see how they go over at work tomorrow. I was pleased with the experience though.

Lemon Cupcakes
~20 cupcakes / 350 degree oven

1-1/2 cups flour (cake if you have it, otherwise all-purpose)
3/4 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup grape seed oil or vegetable oil
4 egg yolks (approximately 3 ounces)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon extract, all natural
grated rind from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon bitters
5 egg whites (approximately 5 ounces)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tarter
1/4 cup sugar

1. Sift flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder into the bowl of a standing mixer.
2. In a medium bowl, combine oil, egg yolks, lemon juice, lemon extract, lemon rind, and bitters. Stir to combine.
3. On a low setting, start to beat the dry mixture and slowly add the wet. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until incorporated.
4. Transfer mixture to another bowl. Wash and dry mixer bowl.
5. Whip egg whites with whip attachment on medium-high speed until foamy. With the mixer on medium speed, add cream of tarter and slowly add sugar. Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form.
6. Scoop a cupful of the stiff egg whites into the batter and stir to combine. This should lighten up the batter.
7. Transfer the batter to the egg whites and gently fold until there are no more streaks of egg white.
8. Scoop into cupcake cups about 2/3s full and bake at 350 F for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

batter & egg whites
step 6

lemon cupcakes with bitters
baked cupcakes

Sorrel Simple Syrup

1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon chopped Sorrel

1. Add sugar and water to a small saucepan set over medium high heat.
2. Heat the mixture until the sugar dissolves, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon until fairly thick, about 2 minutes
3. Transfer to a small bowl. Stir in Sorrel and set aside to cool.

Sorrel Meringue Frosting

1/2 cup sugar
3 egg whites
Sorrel simple syrup
Splash of Bitters

1. Whisk the egg whites and sugar over a water bath in the standing mixer bowl until it reaches a temperature of 110 degrees Fahrenheit. This only takes only a few of minutes.
2. Transfer to standing mixer and whisk using whisk attachment at high speed until soft peaks form.
3. With the mixer on medium speed, drizzle sorrel syrup into the mixer. Splash in a bit of bitters. Beat on high until stiff peaks form.


1. Pipe meringue frosting.
2. Toast with a culinary or blow torch.

piping meringue

25 comments for Lemon Cupcakes with Bitters, Sorrel, and Toasted Meringue »

  1. These cupcakes look divine!

    Comment by Debbie — January 6, 2008 @ 5:09 pm

  2. I’m definitely trying these. Awesome.

    Comment by Sandra Vahtel — January 6, 2008 @ 10:51 pm

  3. My mouth waters at the idea of these. I’d never have thought to bake with bitters. I wonder if the flavor holds up through cooking, though. One way to find out…

    Comment by A Baker in Brooklyn — January 7, 2008 @ 9:07 am

  4. I am intrigued by the addition of bitters! I wonder if it makes these the equivalent of drinks with bitters, which I often consider “sipping” drinks…maybe this is a tiny-bite-at-a-time cupcake?

    Comment by Cakespy — January 7, 2008 @ 9:18 am

  5. Those look really elegant. I am not a big lemon fan but sometimes a “lemon cake” is a great way to end a meal. I may make these for my sister. Thanks!

    Comment by Rachel — January 7, 2008 @ 9:22 am

  6. OMG…just when you think you have seen it all! These are for us sweet drink lovers! :)

    Comment by Barbi — January 7, 2008 @ 10:31 am

  7. Lemon cupcakes are my absolute favorite!

    P.S. I love your Bake and Destroy shirt, I can’t wait to get one! :o)

    Comment by Michelle — January 7, 2008 @ 11:15 am

  8. You have just turned my favorite pie into a cupcake…I love you!

    Comment by Hillary — January 7, 2008 @ 11:35 am

  9. Chockylit,

    Where in the world do you find time to bake, take care of your baby and work?!

    This is always the first thing that comes to mind when I read your blog. I’m a new mother as well, just returned to work a month ago, love to cook…but have a hard time juggling everything.

    Really…I just wanted to know how you time manage. Honest question, because I’m coming to a point where I feel a little desperate trying to to juggle everything at once.

    Anyways, love your blog.

    Comment by AsteroidE3 — January 7, 2008 @ 12:59 pm

  10. How intriguing. I love sorrel in salads and as a sauce on seafood or vegetables. But in cupcakes? I never would have thought. After seeing these beauties, I’m thinking… Mmmmm…sorrel in cupcakes. :)

    Comment by Susan from Food Blogga — January 7, 2008 @ 3:47 pm

  11. The combination of flavors is as stunning as the pictures! If my plate was not already full with projects,I’d run and make these just to try but I can see how bitters and lemon would work beautifully together!

    Comment by Tartelette — January 8, 2008 @ 10:23 am

  12. Wow, these look really good and unique. So glad I found your blog…cupcakes are my obsession :)

    Comment by Sues — January 10, 2008 @ 1:20 pm

  13. I have the same question. Work, baby, and cupcakes? How is it done??

    Comment by carrie — January 12, 2008 @ 2:10 pm

  14. Hmm.. interesting combination.. i’ll try them soon.

    Comment by Pomegranate — January 13, 2008 @ 9:53 am

  15. Ok, so this is probably a completely crazy question, but do you think there’s any hope for a lemon cupcake with your salted carmel buttercream frosting? I really love the S.C. frosting, but would like to pair it with something besides vanilla or chocolate, and have been trying to think of a unique flavor to pair it with. I’m a little too afraid to try it though…

    Comment by Caitlin — January 18, 2008 @ 11:32 pm

  16. Wow, these cupcakes look delicious. I might have to trade you Manhattans for cupcakes.

    Comment by Lance J. Mayhew — January 22, 2008 @ 1:37 pm

  17. Uh, Woa. These look amazing. I’m going to have to try these for Valentines Day. Ok, now I’m drooling.

    Comment by Anna — February 9, 2008 @ 9:43 pm

  18. I’m so excited to try the meringue topping tonight. But, please can somebody tell me what sorrel is? I only know of it as a mild natural laxative. help!

    Comment by dolally — March 12, 2008 @ 12:23 pm

  19. Its a herb and a laxative – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sorrel

    Comment by chockylit — March 12, 2008 @ 12:29 pm

  20. Thanks for your super quick answer. Can the meringue be made without the sorrel and bitters? I’m SO amateur, these probably sound like silly questions.

    Comment by dolally — March 12, 2008 @ 1:28 pm

  21. Definitely… Just omit. There should be enough sugar to make it sweet enough with just the half cup.

    Comment by chockylit — March 12, 2008 @ 2:01 pm

  22. thank you so much. i’m going to give it a go tonight.

    Comment by dolally — March 12, 2008 @ 2:53 pm

  23. Your blog is wonderful! I didn’t know that baking cupcakes have so much depth. Thanks!
    I was sucked into your exciting recipes. All of your recipes are very creative and I feel your enthusiasm. I’ve been looking for “lemon cupcake recipe” for my 5-year daughter’s birthday party. She insisted to share “lemon cupcakes” with her friends. So, I will omit the sorrel & bitters but I will check on your frosting recipes. I appreciate and thank you for sharing your creative works!

    Comment by Etsuko — May 30, 2008 @ 10:53 pm

  24. These look very nice!

    Have you ever tried lemon poppyseed cupcake? I might try that today. :)

    Thanks for sharing. Love the daring combination you create

    Comment by simplydolicious.com — November 11, 2009 @ 7:33 am

  25. What is the difference of using grape seed oil from vegetable oil in baking?

    Comment by simplydolicious.com — November 11, 2009 @ 7:34 am

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