Lemon Meringue Cupcakes (gluten-free)

I have a habit of leafing through cooking magazines in search of recipes that are naturally gluten-free or can very easily be adjusted to be. But something got the best of me when it came to these cupcakes. I was determined. If the rest of the world can enjoy lemon meringue cupcakes...than so can I. 

My plan was to use the Birthday Cupcakes recipe from the America's Test Kitchen's Gluten Free Cookbook and combine it with the lemon juice and zest that the original Food Network Magazine recipe called for. Perhaps this 3-step process for cupcake, meringue, and glaze was more of an undertaking than I had originally thought. This isn't something that you whip up in a pinch. It took me the better part of the afternoon, but I promise the result is pure gluten-free goodness and well worth the effort. 

I should mention that if you're not a fan of lemon, this recipe probably isn't for you. It's in almost everything!


Makes 12 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
4 ounces white chocolate, chopped
6 tablespoons vegetable oil
6 1/2 ounces (3/4 cup plus 2/3 cup)
ATK Gluten-Free Flour Blend
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 1/2 ounces (1/2 cup) sugar
1/3 cup sour cream
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

For the meringue:
2 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the glaze:
2 1/2 confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 2 lemons)
6 to 7 drops yellow food coloring (optional)

Note: I was never a fan of mixing my own flours as it always seemed like too much of a hassle. I promise this blend is worth it, but if you're still not convinced ATK recommends using King Arthur Gluten-Free Multipurpose Flour or Bob's Red Mill GF All-Purpose Baking Flour.

Substitutions are as follows:
6 1/2 ounces (2/3 cup plus 1/2 cup) King Arthur Gluten-Free Multipurpose Flour but cautions cupcakes will not rise as well and taste pasty

6 1/2 ounces (1 and 1/3 cup) Bob's Red Mill GF All-Purpose Baking Flour but cautions cupcake will have a courser crumb and a bit of a bean flavor


1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. 

2. Microwave the white chocolate and oil together in a bowl on medium heat. Stir as necessary until melted. Whisk mixture until smooth, and set aside to cool. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, xanthan gum, salt, and baking powder.

3. In a large bowl, whisk eggs and vanilla extract together. Add sugar and whisk until combined. Next whisk in white chocolate mixture and sour cream. Add flour blend mixture and whisk until batter is completely combined. Add in lemon juice and zest and stir.

4. Divide the batter evenly between muffin cups. Batter should fill 3/4 of the way. Bake about 20 to 22 minutes on the middle oven rack until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out cleanly. The tops should spring back when pressed lightly. Once cool to the touch, transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

5. With a mixer beat egg whites and salt on medium speed. Egg whites should get foamy after about a minute. Increase the mixer speed to high, adding 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar. After about 3 minutes, soft shiny peaks should form.

6. In a small saucepan, combine the remaining 6 tablespoons granulated sugar, the corn syrup, and 1/4 cup water. Place over medium-high heat until a candy thermometer registers 245 degrees (about 6 minutes). Remove from heat. Set the mixer on medium speed and slowly pour hot sugar syrup into the egg whites. Increase the mixer speed to high and beat for about 6 minutes, or until the meringue is fluffy and cool. Beat in the vanilla. Transfer to a pastry bag (or create a makeshift one from a Ziploc with a small corner cut off). Pipe meringue onto cupcakes and let stand for about 15 minutes before adding glaze.

7. To make the glaze whisk confectioner's sugar, lemon juice, and food coloring in a microwave-safe bowl until smooth. Microwave 1 minute and whisk until dissolved. Let the mixture cool for about 5 minutes. Once you're sure the meringue is cool, carefully dip the tops of the cupcakes into the glaze. This is tricky business until you get the hang of it.  If all else fails, scrape the cupcake clean of the meringue and re-pipe and glaze. If the glaze gets too thick, you can always throw it back in the microwave.


photos by Amanda Dennelly