lemon cup cupcakes

These cupcakes make an impressive presentation. For sure. But they are also somewhat impractical.

I was helping a friend who was baking for a competition and I really, really wanted her to win. So we made 12 of these gorgeous lemons and a bunch of regular cupcakes for pure eating. I wasn’t sure how they would turn out, so the regular cupcakes were also back up. Thankfully the lemons worked out and looked and tasted great, but strangely she only came in second place! Beat out by homemade ice cream sandwiches. I guess we should have considered that the judges were 9.

The cake was very moist, the custard brought a super-lemony coolness, and the meringue balanced it all out. Tasty cupcakes all the way around. Good luck if you try these out.

Oh, obviously one would need to eat the lemons with a spoon.

Prepare Lemons

12 Meyer Lemons
Melon Baller

1. Wash and dry each lemon.
2. Take a small slice off of one end of each lemon. Just enough for it to stand up on its own, but not so much that you make a whole in the bottom.
3. Slice of the top of each lemon such that you can get in to the pulp with your melon baller.
4. Remove the inside from the lemon with the melon baller. Try to get the inside as clean as you can without making any wholes in the cup. Make sure the insides end up in a clean bowl – you will need them for the next step.
5. Strain the lemon juice from the insides for the remaining recipes.
6. Wrap each lemon in foil to protect it while baking.

Lemon Vanilla Custard

1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
pinch salt
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons meyer lemon juice
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature

1. Whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan.
2. Stir in water until blended. Add lemon juice and stir until blended.
3. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring constantly but slowly with a wooden spoon. Boil for 2 minutes.
4. Whisk up egg yolks in a small bowl. Add two tablespoons of the hot lemon mixture to the eggs slowly and whisking constantly. Whisk the egg yolks back into the hot lemon mixture slowly and whisking constantly.
5. Bring back to a boil over medium heat and cook until thickened.
6. Transfer into a glass bowl, add zest, and butter and stir until combined.
7. Let cool for 15 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cool.

lemon cupcake
baked cupcake with a hole poked in it

Lemon Cupcakes
12 lemons plus ~14 regular cupcakes / 350 degree oven

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup meyer lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1. Beat butter on high until soft, about 30 seconds.
2. Add sugar. Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
3. Add eggs one at a time, beat for 30 seconds between each.
4. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
5. Add about a third of the flour to the butter/sugar mixture and beat to combine.
6. Add milk and beat until combined.
7. Add about a third of the flour to the butter/sugar mixture and beat to combine.
8. Add lemon juice and zest and beat until combined.
9. Fill cored lemons and cupcake papers about half to three-quarters full.
10. Bake for 22-25 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.

lemon vanilla custard filling
pouring in the custard

Meringue Frosting

5 egg whites
1-1/4 cup sugar

1. Combine egg whites and sugar into the mixing bowl of your stand mixer and set over a bain marie (water bath).
2. Whisk by hand for a few minutes until the sugar is dissolved or preferably until the mixture reaches 110 degrees Fahrenheit. (Apparently 160 is safest. I have never tried that so can’t tell you if it will still be ok for the frosting. So if you are concerned use pasteurized eggs.)
3. Transfer bowl to electric mixer, beat on medium speed for 10 minutes.
4. Beat on high speed until stiff glossy peaks form, about 5 to 10 minutes more.

1. Allow each lemon cupcake to cool.
2. Poke each with your finger to make a well for the custard.
3. Fill with custurd.
4. Using a small ice cream scoop, top each filled lemon with meringue.
5. Toast frosting with a blow torch.
6. [Optional] Dust with lemon zest.

meringue frosting
topped with meringue frosting

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