The honey meringue frosting on these light-as-a-feather lemon cupcakes is my twist on an Italian meringue. They are super easy to whip up and are sure to impress. The flavours of lemon and pistachio complement each other well and lend a sophistication to the cupcakes that probably better suits an adult taste. So these are really grown up cupcakes. They’re best eaten with a cake fork as things can get quite messy.

Lemon pistachio cupcakes with a honey meringue frosting

Lemon pistachio cupcakes with a honey meringue frosting

Lemon pistachio cupcakes with a honey meringue frosting

This recipe comes from my second cookbook Sweet – which was published by Penguin Random House in 2015. It feels like a gazillion years ago because I would have made produced this recipe in 2014, but I remember them so clearly. I adore Italian meringue and here the honey cooks the egg white as a sugar syrup would do but adding a very distinct flavour. I singe the meringue with a blowtorch to give it a toasty look and taste. 

Recipe – Makes 26–28


  • 225 g butter, room temperature
  • 400 g granulated white sugar
  • 4 free-range eggs
  • 5 ml vanilla extract
  • 5 ml lemon extract or lemon essence
  • zest of 2 lemons (± 20 ml)
  • 400 g cake flour
  • 10 ml baking powder
  • 3 ml bicarbonate of soda
  • 250 ml milk
  • 80–100 g pistachios, roughly chopped

Meringue frosting

  • 250 ml honey
  • 3 free-range egg whites
  • 2 ml salt
  • 5 ml vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180 °C / 350 F and line 5 x 6-cup (or 3 x 12-cup) muffin tins with paper liners.

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, ensuring that each is thoroughly mixed in before the next addition. Stir in the vanilla extract, lemon extract or essence and the lemon zest.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the milk, to the butter and egg mixture. Scrape the sides of the bowl and briefly mix until smooth, making sure you do not overbeat. Scrape down the bowl once more by hand, then fold in the pistachios.

Spoon out the batter with an ice-cream scoop, filling each paper liner three-quarters of the way up. Bake for 20 minutes until golden-brown and springy to the touch. Leave to cool in the tins.

While the cupcakes are cooling, make the meringue frosting. In a small saucepan, bring the honey to a boil on the stove-top. In the meanwhile, whisk the egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Add the salt and continue whisking. When the honey bubbles, slowly add it to the egg whites in a thin stream with the mixer running on high. Add the vanilla extract and continue to mix for a further 7–9 minutes until the meringue is holding its peaks and has cooled down.

Scoop the meringue mixture into a piping bag and pipe onto the cooled cupcakes. If you have a blowtorch, singe the tips of the meringue to create a beautiful effect and toasty flavour.

A couple of my other cupcake recipes:

The very best red velvet cupcake recipe

Vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream & salted caramel

Lemon pistachio cupcakes with a honey meringue frosting



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  1. Liz Thomas

    Hi Sam,

    These sound lovely. — Question? When you say “cake flour” do you mean self-raising flour? Or plain flour.


  2. Sam

    Thank you and I hope you enjoy. The honey imparts quite a strong flavour but really compliments the lemon & pistachio.

  3. cake flour is plain flour or all purpose flour (not self-raising flour)

  4. Sam

    Thanks Laura and quite a unusual flavour

  5. Sam

    Hi Thwoo- cake flour is the same as all purpose or plain flour in SA. Its not self raising flour. I would have mentioned that if it was. Cheers

  6. Natalya

    Loved these cupcakes, good combination,so yummy!

  7. Sam

    HI Natalya, I’m so glad you enjoyed my recipe.
    Sam x

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