There’s elegance in simplicity. Lemon Poppyseed Cupcakes with Torched Meringue are just that. Two of my favorites in one, they have a delicate crumb and fresh lemon scent. Crowned with a swirl of glossy whipped meringue, they’re bound to turn heads anywhere you take them.
Meringue has always been wildly popular. Back in the 1980’s, my late uncle would never visit from Zurich without a box of Luxemburgerli. These little cuties would later be famous as macarons.
Whenever I taste something new and delicious, I can’t wait to run to my kitchen and try making it myself. Meringue was different. It always intimidated me, but this Italian recipe is fail-safe and ready in 5 minutes.
Eau de Burnt Sugar
I married an Aussie and practiced making Pavlova for him. Later, I found the best recipe ever. I made every excuse to make it, especially after Shawn got me a plumber’s torch. Hell, I want to singe sugar every chance I get. That sweet, toasty smell of burnt sugar is irresistible.
You know how much I love to burn things. I wish I could bottle it up and wear it as perfume. My latest creation is tiny in form, but huge in flavor. Get your torch, because you’re going to want to make these Lemon Poppyseed Cupcakes today with fluffy meringue frosting that’s ready in 5 minutes flat.
Lemon Poppyseed Cupcakes
Prep: 5 mins
Bake: 25 mins
1 cup milk
1/2 stick butter
4 free-range eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 lemon, zest only (make lemonade with the juice)
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
2 tsp poppy seeds
Heat milk + butter in a small pot on low heat. After the butter has melted, remove from heat. Set aside.
Line the wells of 2 cupcake trays with paper cups.
Preheat oven to 325*F.
Set kitchen timer to 4 mins. Beat eggs in stand mixer with paddle for 4 mins.
Sift flour, baking powder & salt together into a clean bowl. Set aside.
Reset the timer for another 4 mins and add sugar. Beat until creamy.
Add the sifted dry ingredients, a bit at a time and mix just long enough to incorporate.
Add cooled milk and butter mixture, then the poppy seeds.
Divide batter between cupcake wells and transfer to the hot oven.
Bake until fragrant, maybe 20-25 minutes.
5-Minute Meringue Frosting
Makes: 2 cups
Prep: 5 mins
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup water
3 free-range egg whites, @ room temp
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp vanilla
While the cupcakes are baking, make your frosting.
Measure sugar and water into a small sauce pan. Place over medium heat and stir to combine. Cook just until sugar has melted, about 1-2 minutes.
Remove from heat and set aside. Meanwhile, separate the eggs and collect the whites in the bowl of a stand mixer.
Save yolks for another recipe.
Add cream of tartar and salt. Whip until fluffy peaks form.
Lower the mixer speed and very slowly stream the hot syrup into the egg whites until glossy, soft peaks form.
Add vanilla and mix to combine. Cover the bowl with plastic and chill in the fridge til ready to frost the cupcakes.
Remove cupcakes from oven and allow them to rest in the pans for 10 mins before flipping onto metal racks to finish cooling.
When the cupcakes have completely cooled, frost with the meringue.
Pull: Using the flat side of a spatula or knife, touch the frosting and lift 90 degrees away from the cake, to form little curly peaks.
Torch: Roast the waves of frosting with your new torch and serve.
Deep, Dark Secrets
I have a confession to make. Every night, before I’ve even finished my dinner, I’m fantasizing about something sweet and decadent. Dessert is always on my mind, even when I’m asleep.
I don’t feel guilty baking cupcakes. They’re smaller than a traditional slice of cake, neatly packaged into cute, individual treats you don’t have to share with anyone. In my experience, however, Lemon Poppyseed Cupcakes always taste better when enjoyed with someone sweet.