Feeling the Lemon Squeeze Cupcakes (Gluten Free)

Feeling the Lemon Squeeze Cupcakes: A tart, lemon cupcake with lemon curd filling, topped with meringue icing and a candied lemon on top.

Mood: Are you stressed beyond belief? Do you feel like life is squeezing you to a pulp? Then this cupcake is for you!

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As I read in my employee manual when I started my new job, it’s customary for people to bring in office treats on their birthday. And wouldn’t you know, 1 month into my job, it was my birthday! What better an opportunity to show off my mad baking skills to my new co-workers?

But of course I needed to go all out and make these cupcakes to die for. I mean, you only get 1 chance to make a baking first impression after all. I though briefly about making my “Blood Red Velvet” cupcakes, but then decided that might leave a rather… strange impression. Instead, I decided to try my stressed lemon meringue cupcakes.

Unfortunately, by the time I got the cupcakes to the office, the meringue had wilted a bit. So they were slightly less impressive looking than I had hoped. Still, there’s always the Christmas party, a chance to get back into my game! I will conquer all and win the baker of the office award yet! (That award doesn’t actually exist, but if it did I WOULD WIN).

I think I need to take my baking ego down a notch.

Anyway, here you go. Feeling the Lemon Squeeze cupcakes.

Instructions:

First you wanna get started on those candied lemons. Cause they take for ever. Prepare an ice bath (a bowl full of ice and water). Slice a lemon into thin slices (you’ll need at least 6 but can probably get more than that out of a lemon). Pick out the seeds.

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Tart for now, these lemons will soon be super sweet with sugar!

Then bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Take it off of the heat, add lemon slices, and stir for a bout a minute. Drain the water and put the lemon slices into the ice water.

Bring 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water to boil in a medium skillet or pan. Dissolve the sugar, and when it boils reduce heat to medium low. Add the lemon slices so they are in single layer.

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I didn’t quite achieve the single layer thing. But it worked.

Simmer until the rinds are translucent, so for about an hour. When they’re done set them on parchment paper and let stand. Once they are cool, cut them into halves or quarters, depending if your cupcakes are mini or not. Mine were mini so I did quarters, but if you have normal sized cupcakes halves will probably do.

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Candied lemons! So fun. Making the inedible edible since 1991.

While you are letting those lemons become candy, it’s time to work on the cupcakes themselves. Step number 1 as always: preheat the oven to 350 F. Zest 3-4 lemons. (Yes I know we’re using a crap ton of lemons. They’re lemon cupcakes. Get over it).

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I use this tiny grater. It works wonderfully. A steak knife will also do in a pinch.

Then, whisk together 5/8 cup of milk and 3 3/4 teaspoons lemon juice. Add the 1/4 cup vegetable oil, 2 egg whites, zest of 2 lemons (s0 2/3 of the zest that you zested earlier, you’re saving the rest for the curd), and 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.

In another separate bowl, combine the 1 1/8 cup gluten free baking flour (I made them gluten free because one of my co-workers is of the gluten free variety. Tasted good either way. You can use regular flour and it’ll still work out fine), 3/4 cup white sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Add them together and mix it up. Woot. I didn’t take pictures of these steps because you probably know what cupcake batter looks like. If not google it. Seriously.

Spoon the batter into baking cups. I used mini baking cups because I thought people might not want a whole cupcake (people can be weird like that). You can make full sized if you want. Whatever floats your boat.

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In the oooooovveeeeeen! Baking it up.

Bake for 15-18 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Alright now time for the lemon curd. While your cupcakes are baking, combine 4 egg yolks (save the egg whites for the frosting), zest of 1 lemon (leave 1 tsp for the frosting), 1/3 cup lemon juice (freshly squeezed if possible. Use the lemons you zested), and 1/2 cup sugar.

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My super cool lemon juicer i got at the thrift store! Love thrift stores.

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Yep! That’s the curd.

Cook over medium heat until the mixture is thick enough to coat a spoon, or about 12 minutes. Add the pinch of salt and 5 Tablespoons of butter (the butter should be added in chunks) and stir until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap, pushing the film down so it lies on the surface of the curd, and put it in the fridge for at least an hour.

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Ready to go in the fridge!

Now in case you haven’t noticed, by this time I had quite a lot going on- cupcakes in the oven, lemons candying on the stove, and curd cooking. Was that enough? NO! I also had to rehydrate my chickpeas. I am maybe a crazy person. Well really I’m a hummus addict who really really needed to make a new batch of hummus.

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Just in case I didn’t have enough stove elements going on at the same time. I had to simmer these suckers.

The last portion- the meringue frosting! Oh meringue. How I loathe you. Slightly. It just is not the easiest thing to make.

So fashion yourself a double boiler. I just sat two pots on top of each other, put some water in the bottom one, and made it boil. Basically you want some water boiling below a pan. Make it happen.

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This is my pro double boiler set up. SO pro.

Whisk the 4 egg whites, 2/3 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon lemon zest, pinch cream of tartar, and a pinch of salt in the top pan. Continue whisking until the mixture is hot to the touch and the sugar dissolves (1-2 mins).

Then put it in a stand mixer (or a bowl that you can use with a hand mixer.

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Oh stand mixer, how I love thee. Let me count the ways. I remember the days I had to whip up egg whites by hand… not fun.

Beat on medium high speed until meringue is cool and holds a stiff peak. Now for some reason mine never quite reached the stiff peak stage, it kinda just stayed as a soft peak. So sad. Still worked though, just didn’t stay as stiff as I would have liked. Maybe add more cream of tartar? Still delicious!

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That was about as stiff as mine got.

ASSEMBLY TIME! Hopefully your cupcakes are done baking by now. Take the cupcakes and cut a small cone out of the top of each (if you’re confused, see some of my previous posts where I explain this method in detail). Fill the hole with lemon curd and put the top back on.

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Why do you fill me up, butter cup baby (yes, a flower song pun)

Pipe the frosting on top. I used one of those round bits because I thought it would work better with meringue. It did. Yum.

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So shiny! If only they had stayed this stiff 12 hours later… :/

Then place a wedge of candied lemon on top and you my friend have just made your own “Feeling the Lemon Squeeze” cupcakes!

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All done! 🙂

Fun story: After I was done my cupcakes, I still had a decent amount of meringue left over. So I thought, why not try to make meringue cookies? They’re tasty! I knew you either baked meringue super hot for a quick time or super long at a lower temperature, and being too lazy to look it up, turned the oven to 425 F. I put the meringue blobs in, and 10 mins later the outsides were crispy and the insides were super gooey. They then deflated completely into flat discs. Such a fail.

Moral of this story: Always double check your instincts against the internet. Always.

Also if you have left over lemon curd, you can make lemon bars. Delicious.

Ingredients (makes 24 mini cupcakes or 12 regular sized)

Cupcakes

  • 5/8 cup milk
  • 3 3/4 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 lemons, zested
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/8 cup gluten free flour
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Icing

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • pinch of cream of tartar
  • pinch of salt

Lemon Curd

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 5 Tablespoons butter, cut into chunks

Candied Lemons:

  • 1 lemon
  • 1 cup sugar

Brief Instructions:

First you wanna get started on those candied lemons. Prepare an ice bath (a bowl full of ice and water). Then, slice a lemon into thin slices (you’ll need at least 6 but can probably get more than that out of a lemon). Pick out the seeds.

Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Take it off of the heat, add lemon slices, and stir for a bout a minute. Then drain the water and put the lemon slices into the ice water.

Bring 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water to boil in a medium skillet or pan. Dissolve the sugar, and when it boils reduce heat to medium low. Add the lemon slices so they are in single layer.

Simmer until the rinds are translucent, so for about an hour. When they’re done set them on parchment paper and let stand. Once they are cool, cut them into halves or quarters, depending if your cupcakes are mini or not. Mine were mini so I did quarters, but if you have normal sized cupcakes halves will probably do.

Next the cupcakes. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Zest 3-4 lemons. Then, whisk together 5/8 cup of milk and 3 3/4 teaspoons lemon juice. Ddd the 1/4 cup vegetable oil, 2 egg whites, zest of 2 lemons (s0 2/3 of the zest that you zested earlier, you’re saving the rest for the curd), and 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.

In another separate bowl, combine the 1 1/8 cup gluten free baking flour, 3/4 cup white sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Add them together and mix it up.

Spoon the batter into baking cups. 12 if regular cupcakes, 24 if mini.

Bake for 15-18 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Lemon curd time- While your cupcakes are baking, combine 4 egg yolks (save the egg whites for the frosting), zest of 1 lemon (leave 1 tsp for the frosting), 1/3 cup lemon juice (freshly squeezed if possible. Use the lemons you zested), and 1/2 cup sugar.

Cook over medium heat until the mixture is thick enough to coat a spoon, or about 12 minutes. Add the pinch of salt and 5 Tablespoons of butter (the butter should be added in chunks) and stir until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap, pushing the film down so it lies on the surface of the curd, and put it in the fridge for at least an hour.

The last portion- the meringue frosting! Fashion yourself a double boiler. Whisk the 4 egg whites, 2/3 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon lemon zest, pinch cream of tartar, and a pinch of salt in the top pan. Continue whisking until the mixture is hot to the touch and the sugar dissolves (1-2 mins).

Then put it in a stand mixer (or a bowl that you can use with a hand mixer. Beat on medium high speed until meringue is cool and holds a stiff peak.

Assembly! Take the cupcakes and cut a small cone out of the top of each. Fill the hole with lemon curd and put the top back on. Pipe the frosting on top. Then place a wedge of candied lemon on top and enjoy!

Sources:

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