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I tend to go on rants about...many things. I have a pet peeve list about 872 lines long. Slow walkers. Kids on those Razor scooters cavorting in the narrow aisles of Fairway. Misplaced apostrophes. Cupcakes.
I know—I write a cake column, but when I put the same batter that would go in a springform or 9-inch round pan into a lined tin, my jaw starts to tighten and clench. It may be the mushrooming of cupcake shops everywhere or it may be the people who stand in line for treats that are leaden and topped with bouffants of crystallized, M&M-pebbled frosting. Whatever the reason is, I don't suffer them gladly.
That being said, I see the appeal: it's a handheld cake that's well suited for individual servings and parties, so, once in a blue moon, I'll bake a dozen. I spied these particular meringue cupcakes in a Martha Stewart publication some time ago and they were just so darling I was persuaded to make them (in addition to which I am smitten with meringue.)
I believe Ms. Stewart's recipe was a straight-up, crisp, sugar-and-egg whites meringue, but here I've opted for a mixture that includes vinegar and cornstarch, like a Pavlova. The addition of these ingredients yields the same delicate shell, but the key difference is an interior that is soft, sticky, and marshmallow-like. The pillowy interior is revealed when the tops are gently sawed off. The hollow of the cupcake is then filled with Nutella and sliced strawberries. Sweetly pretty, these cupcakes are ones I won't huff and puff about.
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