These Lemon and Raspberry Pavlova Cupcakes marry together soft, fluffy lemon cupcakes with lemon curd, frosting, meringue, raspberries AND raspberry sauce to create one seriously divine cupcake!
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F and line a 12 hole cupcake tray with liners.
Place the butter/maragarine, sugar and lemon zest into a large bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer and beat on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. This will take 2-3 minutes.
Add in the eggs and vanilla extract, scraping down the sides as necessary, and mix on medium speed until well incorporated.
Add in the flour, baking powder and salt (if using) and start mixing on low. As the mixture begins to come together, add the milk in gradually. Continue to mix until all the milk is incorporated. Turn the mixer up to medium when you've added all the milk.
Divide the cupcakes between the liners, I used a 2tbsp cookie scoop to ensure my cupcakes were even. Fill the liners around 2/3 of the way full.
Place in the oven for 18-22 minuts, until risen, golden and an inserted skewer comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack as soon as possible. I find that if you leave the cupcakes in the pan the liners peel away. Leave to cool completely, before making the frosting.
To make the frosting, place unsalted butter, icing sugar and lemon zest into a large bowl, or the bowl of your stand mixer and mix on low to ensure you don't get an icing sugar cloud. Once the mixture starts to come together, turn the mixer up to medium speed and mix until it all comes together, this will take about 2 minutes. At this stage it will probably be quite stiff, so add in milk 1/2tbsp at a time, then mix on medium speed, until you have a smooth frosting which holds its shape, but will pipe.
Half fill a piping bag fitted with whatever nozzle you want to use (I used an open star) and pipe a swirl onto each cupcake. Leave to one side.
Place your lemon curd into a shallow, heat proof bowl and microwave for 10-20 seconds until it is easy to spread.
Gently place your meringue nests onto a cutting board. If you have larger meringue nests like me, take a sharp knife and slice them in half. You will then need to put 1/2tsp lemon curd into the centre and one or two raspberries on top. I placed my meringue at an angle as I thought it looked cool, you can put them like I have or flat. If you have small meringue nests, place 1tsp of lemon curd into the centre, then fill with raspberries and place on top of your cupcake.
Place 1 cup of raspberries and 1tsp of sugar into a mini food blender, or into a jug if you have a hand blender. Blend until smooth, add water 1/2tsp at a time, blitzing between additions until you can drizzle the raspberry puree.
To assemble: Take your meringue nests onto your cupcakes, gently pushing so the frosting sticks them down. You do need to be gentle otherwise the meringues could break or you could have them fall off! Once in place, drizzle a little raspberry sauce over the raspberries and down the side of the meringues.
Lemon and Raspberry Pavlova Cupcakes are best served at room temperature. They will keep overnight in an airtight container. The cupcakes will keep for 5 days, but if they're completely assembled the meringue will start to go soft/dissolve. If you're making them ahead of time, make and frost the cupcakes, then do the meringue just before you need them.