Key Lime Pie Cupcakes with Coconut Meringue

Key Lime Pie Cupcakes with Coconut Meringue

Variations abound on this elegant dessert. If you are in a hurry, frost them, unfilled, with a little whipped cream, or lighten up the filling mixture with a little whipped cream and use it as a frosting instead. Or just fill the cupcakes and dust them with confectioners’ sugar instead of adding the meringue. But if you go all the way, serve them when they are still a little warm, and you will have one stupendous cupcake with a surprise inside.

It’s important to buy real Key lime juice for this recipe. It has a different flavor from Persian lime juice – it’s fresher and more tart tasting. Many supermarkets carry Key lime juice in the juice aisle, so you won’t have to visit a specialty store. Once opened, store the bottle in the refrigerator for a month of so. You will have plenty left to make a Key lime pie!

24 paper liners for cupcake pans (2 1/2 -inch size)
1 large lime, scrubbed (for 1 teaspoon zest and 2 tablespoons juice)
4 large eggs
1 package (18.25 ounces) plain yellow cake mix
1 package (3.4 ounces) vanilla instant pudding mix
1 1/4 cups water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon coconut flavoring
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1/3 cup Key lime juice
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Reserved 3 large egg whites
1/2 teaspoon coconut flavoring
1/3 cup granulated sugar
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line
24 cupcake cups with paper liners. Set the pans aside.

With a citrus zester or fine grater, zest the lime and reserve one teaspoon.
Cut the lime in half and squeeze the juice over a strainer into a small
bowl; you should have two tablespoons. Set aside.

Separate three of the eggs, place the whites in a large clean mixing bowl
and the yolks in another mixing bowl.

Add the remaining egg, cake mix, pudding mix, water, oil, coconut flavoring
and lime zest and juice to the yolks. Blend with an electric mixer on low
speed for 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping down the sides again if needed. The batter should look well blended.

Spoon or scoop 1/4 cup batter into each lined cupcake cup, filling it two
thirds of the way full. Place the pans in the oven.

Bake the cupcakes until they are lightly golden and spring back when lightly
pressed with your finger, 18 to 22 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven
and place them on wire racks to cool for five minutes. Increase the oven
heat to 450°F.

Run a dinner knife around the edges of the cupcake liners, lift the cupcakes
up from the bottoms of the cups using the end of the knife, and pick them
out of the cups carefully with your fingertips. Place them on a wire rack to
cool for 15 minutes before filling.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Place the sweetened condensed milk and Key
lime juice in a small bowl and stir to combine.

Spoon the mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a medium tip. Press the tip
1/4 inch into the top center of each cooked cupcake and squeeze the bag to
release about 1 tablespoon filling into the cupcake. Scrape off any excess
filling with a rubber spatula.

Place the cooled cupcakes nearly side by side on a baking sheet.

Prepare the meringue. Add the cream of tartar to the reserved egg whites and beat with an electric mixer on high speed until frothy, 45 seconds.

Add the coconut flavoring and one tablespoon of the sugar. Continue beating
on high, adding one tablespoon sugar at a time, until the whites form stiff
peaks (if you pull the beaters from the meringue, the meringue should extend
from the beaters in straight stiff peaks).

Spoon two tablespoons meringue onto the top of each cupcake and swirl to
spread it just to the edges with a short metal spatula or a spoon. Place the
pan in the oven. Bake until the meringue is light nutty brown in color, five
to six minutes.

Run a dinner knife around the edges of the cupcake liners, lift the cupcakes
up from the bottoms of the cups using the end of the knife, and pick them
out of the cups carefully with your fingers. Serve at once, or allow the
cupcakes to cool 10 minutes, then serve.

Store these cupcakes, in a cake saver at room temperature, for up to three