I am constantly searching for new frosting recipes for my cupcakes. Brilliant Daughter hates any frosting with cream cheese, and buttercream is fine but tends to be too sweet. I have a wonderful chocolate frosting recipe that Brilliant Daughter makes and is perfect and creamy, but is just too much for Easter cupcakes, so I went a-hunting. And what I found is remarkable: light, airy, not too sweet, and with considerably less sugar than any frosting, ever!
This lemon meringue frosting takes about 10 minutes to make, which is more than a traditional frosting, but once you taste its lemony goodness, you won’t complain one bit, and if you have a freestanding mixer, most of the work is done by the machine. This recipe garnered rave reviews from Butcher Son’s fellow butchers, as well as Brilliant Daughter, Mr. B, and the neighborhood kids—who happened to stop by and eyed them lasciviously.
While the recipe calls for raw egg whites, the process for preparation should eliminate any concern over salmonella. The egg whites are heated thoroughly with the sugar for several minutes, and according to the American Egg Board, “Although it is possible for Salmonella to be in both the white and the yolk of the egg, the white does not readily support bacterial growth.” So between using only the whites and the cooking, any fears should be allayed.
This tasty recipe yields enough frosting for 15 regular cupcakes and 24 mini cupcakes. This should translate to 24 regular-sized cupcakes, unless you want to really mound up the frosting, in which case, you may only be able to frost 18.
Lemon Meringue Frosting
4 large egg whites, preferably at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Pinch fine salt
Food coloring (if desired)
Bring a few inches of water to a boil in a double boiler. Whisk the egg whites with the remaining ingredients (except food coloring). Set the bowl over the boiling water and whisk continuously until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is hot, approximately 2 minutes.
Transfer the mixture to a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or hand bowl for hand mixer) and beat at medium-high speed until the frosting holds a soft peak and has cooled, which takes about 5 minutes. At this point you can add in food coloring (I used 4 drops of yellow to yield a very light pastel shade).
Continue beating on medium-high until stiff peaks form.
This frosting lends itself well to piping, but also holds shape, so using a spoon or spatula with also work to make either a smooth topping or a more traditional meringue topping with swoops and swirls.