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 sophistication to the cupcakes that probably better suit an adult taste. So these are grown-up cupcakes. They’re best eaten with a cake fork as things can get quite messy.
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 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
Lemon pistachio cupcakes with a honey meringue frosting
- 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
- 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 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 stovetop. 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 it onto the cooled cupcakes. If you have a blowtorch, singe the tips of the meringue to create a beautiful effect and toasty flavour.
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