Key Lime Cupcakes with Toasted Meringue

Key Lime Cupcakes

Key Lime Cupcakes

There’s something about key lime that conjures up the delightful warmth of basking in the Florida sunshine. The flavor is so bright and tart that eating key lime pie or any other key lime treat magically transports me away from the cold, wind and snow, to sunny south Florida.

It’s for this reason key lime pie is one of favorite desserts and is really the only non-chocolate sweet I willingly order in restaurants, aside from the occasional fruit crisp. Never lemon meringue; it has to be key lime, the tartiest of the tart.

As I’ve slowly become more and more excited about my upcoming Florida getaway, I started thinking about this classic dessert and decided to create my own treat using key lime juice.

I admit it, I used bottled key lime juice. Please don’t judge me – you just try finding fresh key limes in Chicago!

As for my creation, it was delicious miniature key lime cupcakes speckled with lime zest and topped with a toasted meringue that just mellowed the cake’s tartiness, making for an incredible bite.

These sweet and tart morsels of Florida sunshine are the perfect prescription brighten up a drab day.

Key Lime Cupcakes

Key Lime Cupcakes

Here’s the recipe:

Mini Key Lime Cupcakes with Toasted Meringue – makes 40 cupcakes, adapted from Bon Appetit

3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 tablespoon lime zest

2 large eggs

1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup buttermilk

2 tablespoon key lime juice

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line miniature muffin tins with cupcake liners.

Beat the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment for 1 minute. Add the powdered sugar and lime zest; beat until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well between each addition.

Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Add half the flour mixture to the butter and beat until well-combined.

Mix in the buttermilk and key lime juice, then the remaining flour. Mix until just combined.

Spoon the batter into the lined mini cupcake tins until three-quarters of the way full. Tap the tins on the counter a few times, then bake the cupcakes for 11 minutes at 350°F or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes in the tins for 5 minutes, then remove the cupcakes and cool to room temperature.

Toasted Meringue Topping, adapted from Martha Stewart

4 large egg whites

1 cup granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 teaspoon key lime juice

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Fill a small pot 2-inches deep with water. Set it over medium-high heat to bring to a simmer.

Combine the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar in the metal bowl of a stand mixer or a heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over the simmering water and whisk continuously until the sugar dissolves and the egg whites are warm to the touch, about 5 minutes. Be careful not to cook the egg whites.

Remove the bowl from the pot of water and turn off the heat. Set the bowl in the base of the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, or use a hand mixer. Beat the egg whites at high speed until shiny and hold stiff peaks when the whisk is lifted, about 5 minutes. Add the key lime juice and vanilla extract and whisk 2 minutes longer.

Fit a pastry bag with a small star tip and fill with meringue. Pipe the meringue onto the cooled cupcakes. Use a small kitchen torch to toast the meringue.

  • The Diva on a Diet posted: 22 Feb at 9:46 am

    Wow, these look fabulous! Nothing wrong with bottle Key lime juice … so long as its real Key lime juice, its all good. Your cupcakes look like a little bit of sunny heaven. :)

  • Headless Mom posted: 22 Feb at 12:46 pm

    Those are beautiful!

  • Jackie posted: 23 Feb at 12:01 am

    Thanks – I had fun making these cupcakes. And yes, the bottled key lime juice was the real stuff!

  • Online Poster Printing posted: 23 Feb at 2:18 am

    Those look positively delish! I love lime in toasted Meringue!!! Really cool concept, tasty too!

  • Ginny posted: 25 Feb at 12:29 am

    Jackie, these are so cute! :)

  • Sugar Cookies | Foodie Reflections posted: 01 Mar at 11:03 am

    [...] making the toasted meringue for last week’s bite-of-sunshine key lime cupcakes, I found myself with four leftover egg yolks and needed to find something to make with them. The [...]

  • Michelle posted: 23 Mar at 8:08 am

    Oh my gosh. These are little gems! They look beautiful with that golden meringue on top.

  • Meagan posted: 04 Sep at 11:32 am

    I want to make these in a standard size muffin tin. Any suggestions for cook time and temp?

  • Robert posted: 26 Nov at 10:19 pm

    Dang, those look pretty good! My wife and I have a running joke about where you can get the best key lime pie. She has come up with these key lime tarts that are like little bites of heaven. I have always thought that the key lime in a standard pie overwhelms the crust, but the balance between key lime and the graham cracker crust is perfect in the tart.

  • Rhianna posted: 24 Mar at 4:10 pm

    I stumbled upon your post looking for key lime pie recipes and you’ve changed my mind from pie to cupcakes! I live in South Florida and real key limes are readily available. Would you use 2 tablespoons of key lime juice from real key limes or less? Would I still need the zest? Thanks!

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