oh! you pretty things

These lemon curd and meringue cupcakes are absolutely gorgeous. They can be made with or without (without can be frozen) the meringue. Both are equally as good as you can see in the pictures below. When you bite into one with meringue it does feel like you are inhaling a cloud – it is a very nice eating experience.

The recipe quantities and general steps are from Neil Perry’s Rockpool.

Make sure you do use softened butter. Although, I wasn’t with this batch, I can sometimes be impatient and not wait for the butter to soften as I have forgotten to take it out earlier on. We don’t have a microwave! You end up with a denser cupcake as you have beaten the air out the mixture by over-beating to smooth out the butter as it hasn’t happened naturally because you were too impatient with the softening process!

I generally know when this happens, as I will not have enough batter to make 12.

lemon curd and meringue cupcakes

155g salted butter. Softened.

155g castor sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

155g self-raising flour

75g milk

 

Preheat the oven to 185 degrees Celcius.

Grease and flour a 12 muffin tin tray, or line with cupcake foils.

Cream the butter and sugar until white and fluffy.

Add the eggs, one by one, beating each time until smooth and then add the vanilla extract. Mix.

While still mixing, add the flour and milk alternatively in 3 batches.

Spoon the mixture into muffin tins.

Bake for 20-25 minutes.

 

Inserting the lemon curd:

With your knife held (a butter knife does the trick) at about a 45 degree angle about 1-1.5 cm from the outside of the cupcake, cut a little circle out of the top. Cut down about 1.5 cm. While you press into with the knife, move the cupcake around with your other hand – makes it easier to make a smooth cut. Using your knife as a lever, lift it out. You should end up with a cone shape of cupcake. Keep this.

Fill each hole with about a 1 tsp of lemon curd (I go easy on it if they are just for Cass and I, but on special occasions I put more in – about 1 tbs (you can cut out a bigger hole for this much)). Put the cone on top and press down lightly – like a lid for the curd.

Dust with icing sugar and serve.

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Or wrap and place in the freezer (in a plastic container lined with baking paper) for morning teas. Pictured here with beetlebum (see cupcakes).

Or you can go one step further. For this you will need to make Italian meringue and you will need a blow-torch (if you want to slightly brown the meringue) and some form of piping bag.

italian meringue

120g caster sugar

70g egg white (I got 70g exactly from using 2 egg whites – but measure). At room temperature.

small pinch of cream of tartar

40 g water

Combine the sugar and 40g of water in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook.

Stir until the sugar has dissolved.

Increase the heat to medium-high and brush down the side of the pan with a wet pastry brush to remove any remaining sugar crystals. Cook, without stirring to heat the sugar syrup until it reaches 121 degrees Celsius on a candy thermometer. I don’t have one of these and it works fine to take it to a high simmer. Do not let it colour, you don’t want a caramel.

 

Meanwhile, whisk the eggs and cream of tartar until soft peaks form.

Then, pour the hot syrup into the egg white mixture while whisking at medium speed. If your hot mixture has cooled for any reason, put it back on the heat before you add it to the egg white mixture – make sure you wipe the sides down with a wet pastry brush if there are crystals on the sides.

Slowly run the hot syrup mixture down the side of the bowl, make sure it does not touch the whisk.

Whisk at this speed until the mixture is white and glossy. About 10-12 minutes.

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Spoon into a piping bag.

Pipe around the cupcake. I do little rain-drop like shapes by starting close to the cupcake and then raising the piping bag higher before lifting off. And then either a series of 3 of these at the top in the middle, or 1 larger one at the top in the middle.

Set up your blow torch according to the directions. Hold at a safe distance from the cupcake (depends on how big your flame is) and wave it slowly to give an even coating. Rotate the cupcake with the other hand as you do so. Stop when you are happy with the colour.

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