Special equipment: White cupcake liners, 2 pastry bags, no. 4 round pastry tip
For the cupcakes: Position an oven rack in the center of the oven, and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners, and lightly coat with cooking spray.
Sift the flour, confectioners' sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt through a fine sieve into a medium bowl; set aside.
Combine the egg whites in a bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until frothy, about 2 minutes. Add the cream of tartar, and beat until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the granulated sugar, about 1 tablespoon at a time. Increase the speed to medium-high, and continue beating until the peaks are stiff and very shiny, about 5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla and lemon zest. Remove the bowl from the stand.
Sprinkle 1/4 of the flour mixture on top of the eggs, and gently fold in with a rubber spatula. Evenly fold in the remaining flour mixture in 3 additions.
Divide the batter evenly among the lined muffin cups in messy mounds taller than the liners, and bake until the cupcakes spring back when gently pressed and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 14 to 16 minutes. Let cool in the pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.
For the halo decorations: Cut 12 sticks 1 inch long and about 1/8 inch thick out of the crystallized ginger. Trim the ends so they are straight across.
Trace 12 circles on a piece of parchment with a 1-inch round cookie cutter. Turn the paper over; set aside. Fit one of the pastry bags with the tip.
Microwave the candy coating in a small bowl, uncovered, at 40 percent power in 30-second increments, stirring in between, until melted and completely smooth. Transfer the candy coating to the pastry bag, and pipe it into 12 circles, using the parchment template as a guide. Set aside to let harden slightly. Pipe 1 small dollop of the candy coating directly onto each circle, and push a ginger stick into each so it is standing straight up. Let the halos harden completely.
For the frosting: Bring a few inches of water to a boil in a saucepan that can hold a stand mixer's heatproof bowl above the water (or a large heatproof bowl if using a handheld mixer). Whisk the egg whites, granulated sugar, cream of tartar and a pinch of salt together in the bowl; set the bowl above the boiling water and whisk until the mixture is warm to the touch and the sugar dissolves, 1 to 2 minutes. Beat the egg white mixture with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until it is cool and forms stiff peaks, about 5 minutes.
Decorate the cupcakes: Transfer the frosting to the remaining pastry bag, and pipe generous swirls on top of each cupcake, lifting the bag up quickly to make a peak. Push the ginger stem of a halo into each, and serve right away.
Consumption of raw or undercooked eggs, shellfish and meat may increase the risk of foodborne illness.
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