In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer.
Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each.
Stir in vanilla.
Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
Stir in lemon juice.
Spoon into muffin cups, filling each ⅔ full.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until done.
In a medium glass bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs yolks, and lemon juice.
Place over a pot of simmering water.
Cook and stir until thickened, about 10 minutes.
Remove from heat.
Strain through a fine mesh sieve.
Add lemon zest and butter, stirring until butter is melted.
With an electric mixer, beat egg whites to stiff peaks.
In a small saucepan, heat sugar and water, stirring continually until sugar melts.
Cook over medium heat to 246°-250° F, brushing down the sides with water twice.
With mixer running, stream sugar mixture into egg whites.
Continue beating until cooled, about 5-10 minutes.
Putting It Together
Pipe lemon curd into each cavity.
Top with meringue.
Toast with a kitchen torch, if desired.
If you don't want to make the curd, you can use store-bought!
Store-bought lemon juice can be used, but it's better to use fresh, as you also will need the rind for this recipe.
The cake batter for this recipe is very thick!
After baking, the cupcake tops are flat. This makes for easier coring and decorating!
Do NOT over mix the cake batter.
When making the curd, the texture should be about pudding consistency. It takes anywhere from 10-25 minutes to thicken. Just be sure to use a GLASS bowl and place over a simmering (notboiling) pot of water.
Don't waste the egg whites from the curd! Use them to make the meringue. Save the rest for breakfast or another recipe!
The egg whites for the meringue need to be whipped to about stiff-peaks. Turn off the mixer and make your syrup. Once the syrup is at temperature, turn the mixer on high and slowly stream the syrup in.
Do NOT stir the syrup once the sugar is dissolved.
Also, keep a bowl of water and pastry brush nearby You will need to brush the sides of the pan down to keep the sugar from crystalizing.
Beat the meringue until it's completely cool. This takes about 5-10 minutes. You can feel the temperature of your mixing bowl to gage if the meringue is cool.
I found that piping the meringue onto the cupcake and then using an offset spatula resulted in the best way to get the meringue onto the cupcake without a mess. By just using an offset spatula, the cupcake may tear when trying to spread the meringue.
Toasting the meringue is optional, but highly recommended!