Classic lemon meringue pie is one of my favorite desserts, but I also love a good cupcake. Combining those two favorites to create these lemon poke cupcakes was a little stroke of genius, even if I do say so myself—they’re just that good! Each cupcake is poked with a skewer, and then brushed with a tangy, bright lemon curd, which seeps into the holes to create an incredibly moist and citrusy cupcake. A delicate swirl of toasted meringue on top makes them extra special. They’re the perfect dessert for spring parties, guaranteed to impress with their pretty looks and bright flavor.
To make these cupcakes, you’ll need a box of Betty Crocker SuperMoist white cake mix (you can use vanilla, too, if you prefer) and the ingredients called for on the box, plus a jar of lemon curd. For the meringue icing, you’ll need 1 ½ cups sugar, ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar, ¼ cup water, and 3 large egg whites.
First, preheat the oven to 350°F and place a paper baking cup in each of a 24 regular-size muffin cups. Then, prepare the cupcake batter. In a medium bowl, mix together 1 box of Betty Crocker cake mix and the water, vegetable oil and eggs called for on the box to create a smooth cake batter.
Divide the batter among the 24 cups, filling each about two-thirds full. Bake and cool the cupcakes following the directions for 24 cupcakes on the box.
Once the cupcakes have cooled, use a serrated knife to level the top of each cupcake to create flat-topped cupcakes.
Use a wooden skewer (or fork) to poke deep holes in the cupcakes. Don’t be afraid to go crazy here! The more holes there are, the more room there is for the cupcakes to absorb the lemon curd.
Once you’ve leveled and poked holes into each cupcake, use an offset spatula (or a butter knife) to spread tangy lemon curd frosting over each cupcake. Wait a minute or so to allow the lemon curd to seep into each cupcake, before spreading more over each cupcake. The tops of each cupcake will start to get shiny from all the lemon curd. If it’s too thick, you can microwave the lemon curd for 30 seconds to make it a bit thinner.
Next, to make the meringue icing, combine 1 ½ cups sugar, ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar and ¼ cup water in a medium, heavy-bottomed sauce pot fitted with a candy thermometer. Stir the sugar to dissolve and cook the mixture until it becomes syrupy and reaches 240°F.
Meanwhile, beat egg whites in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed. When the syrup in the saucepan reaches 240°F, immediately pour the syrup into a freestanding electric mixer, whisking together with the egg whites. Turn the mixer to medium-high and continue whisking until the icing becomes very thick, at least 10 minutes. The end result will be a thick, shiny meringue that holds its peaks.
Transfer the meringue to a piping bag with the tip of your choice and pipe a generous dollop of icing on each cupcake.
Use a chef’s torch to gently toast the icing, then serve immediately!
The icing tends to deflate overnight, so these cupcakes are best the day you make them—perfect for a special spring celebration like Easter, bridal showers or baby showers!