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Meringue Topped Lemon Curd Cupcakes

Servings: Makes 24 cupcakes
These scrumptious cupcakes are perfect for the novice cake decorator to make or for the experienced cake decorator and baker also. A light, zesty cupcake is filled with a tart lemon curd and topped with tasty meringue. I like to pipe spikes and swirls on top of the cupcakes, but a simple dollop would look just as lovely.

Lemon Curd:
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
3 whole large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick/4 oz./113g) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tsp. lemon zest

2 cups cake flour
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup milk
1 tbsp. lemon zest

Meringue Topping:
3 large egg whites
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 cup granulated sugar

For the Lemon Curd:
Whisk lemon juice, eggs, egg yolk and sugar in a metal bowl until smooth. Add butter and place bowl over a pot of gently simmering water. Whisk gently until curd thickens and leaves a ribbon when whisk is lifted, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and strain. Stir in lemon zest and chill completely before filling.

For the Cupcakes:
Preheat oven to 375°F/190°C.

Line 2 (12-cavity) muffin pans with paper cupcake liners. Sift flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In another bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Combine milk and lemon zest. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture alternately with milk mixture in 3 additions. Fill paper cups just over halfway and bake 18 to 20 minutes, until cake springs back when touched and only just begins to color. Allow to cool completely.

For the Meringue:
Whip egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy. Add sugar and continue whipping until egg whites hold an upright peak when beaters are lifted.

To Assemble:
Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C.

Remove cupcakes from muffin pans and place on a baking sheet. Carve out a hole in each cupcake with a paring knife (discard or eat for snacking). Spoon or pipe 2 tbsp. of lemon curd into each cupcake. Spoon dollops or pipe spikes or swirls of meringue over curd. Bake in preheated oven for 4 to 6 minutes, until tops of meringues brown.

Cupcakes can be stored at room temperature for 4 hours or refrigerated for 1 day.

Makes 24 cupcakes

Date: June 5, 2007