Happy New Year! I find it strange the way January starts the year. After all the excitement in December, January can seem dull and plain with little to look forward to. So today I created these cupcakes, full of wonderful summery flavours to remind us that winter will shortly be giving way to the brighter seasons.
These cupcakes are lightly flavoured with lemon and then with a hit of raspberry in the centre – provided by my homemade Raspberry Curd in this instance – but you could easily do this with raspberry jam if making curd is a step too far! Raspberries are, in my opinion, one of the best summer fruits. Once they are back in season I will do a step by step post on how to make raspberry curd – it is well worth the time and effort.
— Update! — If you would like to see how to make the Raspberry Curd, the full recipe is here.
I decided to top these cupcakes with meringue as Lemon Meringue Pie is one of my favourite desserts, and it makes such a nice change to heavy buttercream as a topping. I’ve used Italian Meringue as it is already cooked by the time you top the cupcakes by whisking in a hot sugar syrup so it doesn’t create any wetness on your cakes. Plus its tasty 😀
Makes 12. Takes 1 hr 15 minutes, plus baking and cooling time.
It is useful if you have a sugar thermometer for this recipe – although the instructions do explain how to test the sugar syrup is done without one, sugar cooks very quickly once it gets past 100 degrees, and you need to be sure it is done quickly.
- 120g dairy free butter (I like to use Pure dairy free Sunflower)
- 120g golden caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 120g self raising flour
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- Zest of 1/2 a lemon
- 2 tbsp Raspberry Curd or Jam, plus extra for topping if wished.
- 2 egg whites
- 100g caster sugar
- 50ml water
- Find the full recipe here.
- Preheat the oven to 170 degrees. Line a 12 hole cupcake tray with cases.
- Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
- Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Then lightly beat in the flour, baking powder and lemon zest. Don’t over-mix, otherwise your cakes will not be very light in texture once baked.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 16 – 18 minutes, until lightly golden and a skewer comes out clean.
- Leave to completely cool.
- Cut a small cone shape out of the top of each cupcake. Add a tsp of curd or jam into each hole, and then replace with the cone of cake. Don’t worry if some of the curd pokes out of the top – this will be covered up by the meringue.
- Make the Italian meringue. In a free standing mixer or using an electric whisk, whisk the egg whites until almost at the soft peak stage – this is when you lift out the whisk and peaks of egg whites stand up, and then shortly after start to bend over.
- Make the sugar syrup – add the caster sugar and water to a heavy bottomed sauce pan over a medium heat. Using your thermometer watch for the sugar syrup to get to the ‘soft ball stage’ – somewhere between 120 and 130 degrees. To check it is done, drop a small amount of the syrup into a glass of very cold water. The syrup should harden up, but when you squeeze it between your fingers you should find it mouldable and able to be rolled into a soft ball. It took me about 7 minutes.
- Start whisking your egg whites again, and slowly pour the sugar syrup into the eggs. Avoid the beaters when you pour to stop any of the syrup splashing on to you.
- Keep whisking the egg whites after all of the syrup has been poured until the egg whites have cooled down completely – you can check this by seeing if the bowl you are whisking in feels warm. It took me about 5 minutes. You will see that when done the meringue is very very thick and shiny.
- Put the meringue in a piping bag with any nozzle you like – I have used a large circular nozzle. Pipe the meringue onto the cupcakes, and then put under a medium grill for a few minutes until lightly golden. Keep an eye on them because as soon as they start to brown they can go to burnt very quickly.
- Leave to cool until the meringue is cool to the touch. When serving, drizzle with some extra curd or warmed up jam if wished.