I am entering into new territory tomorrow. Nights like tonight I am on the cusp of my decisions, it is that moment before the gun at the start of a race where you realize that holy crap, I am actually about to do this. Nights like tonight make me happy. They also make me want to bite my nails and chain-eat mini pretzels out of sheer nervousness.
Nights like tonight call for some retro goodness. No forward thinking, just Elvis' greatest hits, bourbon on the rocks with a cherry and mile high meringue.
These will do just fine.
Sugar is perfumed with lemon zest then creamed with butter.
Once they are baked and cooled, trim the edges of your cupcakes (creating an even surface) and spread the tops with lemon curd.
Next comes the meringue. Egg whites and sugar are cooked over a double broiler until the sugar melts. Then, whisk until you get your Santa hat (aka stiff peak stage.)
Pipe meringue on top of cupcakes as you would frosting. Be liberal, the meringue is sturdy and won't fall over.
Finish the cupcakes under a broiler or using a kitchen torch.
Soft lemon cake, tart lemon curd and pillowy meringue. Swoon.
I like these cupcakes cold, after they have chilled for an hour or two in the ice box. I also like the word ice box. It is retro, like these cupcakes.
(for the cakes)
1 1/4 c flour
1 c sugar
1/3 c butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 c milk
(for the meringue)
2 egg whites
1/3 c sugar
1. Make cupcake batter: Infuse sugar with lemon zest (rub together until well perfumed) and then cream sugar and butter in a standing mixer. Add egg and vanilla. In a small bowl whist together flour, salt, and baking powder; add dry ingredients and mix on low speed until smooth. Using a spatula, incorporate milk.
2. Pour cupcake batter into a lined cupcake pan and bake at 350 for 12-16 minutes, reducing heat to 325 after initial 5 minutes of baking (tops will spring back when you tough them)
3. Cool cupcakes and assemble meringue: over a double broiler, whist egg whites and sugar until sugar melts; transfer mixture to a mixing bowl and whisk until the meringue is glossy and holds a stiff peak (3-5 minutes)
4. Spread lemon curd on top of cooled cakes, feel free to carve out a divot in the middle of your cupcakes and fill it with the curd. I fully support this.
5. Spoon or pipe meringue onto the cupcakes trying to cover the entire top/all the curd
6. Place cakes on a baking sheet and broil until tops are golden (keep an eye on 'em it is a fast process and can turn from golden to burned in mere seconds!)