One thing most of you probably don’t know about me is that last year I worked at a bakery for a little while. YES, a real live bakery that produces desserts for the masses… how amazing is that?! Except no, it wasn’t amazing. I’ve said for a long time that I wanted to work at a bakery – see what the food world is like in “real life” – because someday I wanted to start my own bakery. And while it was an incredibly eye-opening experience that I wouldn’t take back, lemme tell you; the bakery world is not as glamorous as it’s chalked up to be. Like not at all.
Here’s what it is: early, early mornings (please just kill me now), dirty aprons, long orders, short tempers, and a million batches of macarons a day. (Seriously, if I was every intimidated by those pretentious little cookies, I can officially say that feeling is gone.) I only worked there for a month, because as much as I love baking, doing it like that was making me hate it.
Do I still dream of opening up a bakery someday? The realistic me says no, but the idealistic me says yeah, maybe. One thing I’ve learned in life so far is that you really can’t predict the future. But in the meantime, I do have to admit that I learned a lot from that short month at the bakery. I learned how to make macarons. I learned how to be cleaner in the kitchen (← much needed). And I learned how to make lemon meringue pie! (Truthfully I think I only made it once, and I don’t have a solid recipe for it, but hey, I made it. :p) At the very least, I learned that, as long as you’re armed with a solid kitchen thermometer, meringue is NOT something to be afraid of at alllll- so with that, I made cupcakes!
Think of these as lemon meringue pie made portable, with a graham cracker crust, a little less of the lemon filling, and some soft lemon cake added to the mix. You’ve got: buttery graham cracker base, tender vanilla-lemon cupcake, tangy lemon curd, and fluffy toasted meringue – all 100% gluten-free, but you’d never know it. It’s like pie/cake/amazingness in one little cupcake wrapper. Generally, I couldn’t care less about lemon desserts, but these are STELLAR; I’m actually baffled. And Mother’s Day is right around the corner… so you know what that means, right? It means you have every excuse to make these ASAP. :D
The classic lemon meringue pie turned cupcake, complete with a crunchy graham cracker crust, super-soft lemon cake, tangy lemon curd, and fluffy, sky-high meringue to top it all off.
- 4 3/8 ounces (1 1/8 cup) gluten-free graham cracker crumbs
- 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
- 1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) salted butter, melted
- 4 1/4 ounces (1 cup, spoon and level) all-purpose gluten free flour (I like Pamela's)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 ounces (1/2 cup) salted butter, melted and slightly cooled
- 3 1/2 ounces (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- zest from one lemon
- 2 eggs
- lemon curd, homemade or store-bought
- 3 egg whites, room temperature
- 5 3/4 ounces (3/4 cup + 1 Tbsp) granulated sugar, divided
- 2 5/8 ounces (1/3 cup) water
- 1 tablespoon corn syrup*
- Preheat oven to 325ºF and line 15 standards-size muffin cups with paper liners (or use free-standing liners).
- In a small bowl, whisk together the graham cracker crumbs and brown sugar. Add melted butter and mix in until fully incorporated.
- Divide mixture between liners (about 1 tablespoon per liner) and use a shot glass to press into the bottom of each liner in a flat layer.
- Bake crust in preheated oven for 8 minutes. Allow to cool while prepping cupcake batter.
- Increase oven temperature to 350ºF.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, xanthan gum, and salt.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the butter, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla extract, and lemon zest. Add the eggs and beat in until smoothly incorporated.
- Combine wet ingredients with dry and fold in until evenly combined. Divide batter between liners (about 1 heaping tablespoon each) and smooth out surfaces.
- Bake cupcakes in prehated oven for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Once cool top each cupcake with 1 tablespoon lemon curd, smoothing out surface with an offset spatula.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the wire whip attachment, beat eggs on medium-high until soft peaks form. Add 1 tablespoon sugar and beat in briefly to incorporate.
- In a small saucepan, whisk together remaining 5 1/4 ounces (3/4 cup) granulated sugar with the water and corn syrup. Set over medium heat and stir constantly until sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil and maintain, without stirring, until syrup reaches 230ºF as measured by an instant-read thermometer**.
- With mixer on low speed, slow pour sugar syrup along the side of the bowl into egg whites. Once all has been added, increase speed to medium-high and continue to beat until both the bowl and the meringue are no longer warm; meringue should be fairly stiff and glossy.
- Transfer frosting to a large piping bag fitted with a large open start tip (I used Ateco #827 and pipe onto cupcakes. Use a kitchen torch to carefully toast meringue.
- Cupcakes are best served at room temperature. Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
*Preferably light corn syrup, but both light and dark will work.
**Having a reliable thermometer is crucial for making meringue. I highly recommend the Thermapen as it's essentially the best of the best when it comes to home kitchen thermometers!
Disclosure: Thank you to Thermoworks for their continued partnership and support in making this post possible. All opinions are, as always, 100% my own.