Make the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a muffin pan with 12 cupcake liners. Combine the flour and almonds in a food processor and pulse until the almonds are finely ground, about 1 minute. Add the baking powder, baking soda and salt and pulse to combine.
Whisk the eggs, sugar, buttermilk, vegetable oil and lemon zest and juice in a large bowl. Add the flour mixture and whisk until just combined. Divide the batter among the muffin cups, filling them three-quarters of the way. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean, 16 to 18 minutes. Let cool in the pan 5 minutes; remove to a rack to cool completely.
Make the frosting: Combine 2/3 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan; cook over medium-high heat until a candy thermometer registers 240 degrees F, about 12 minutes. Beat the egg whites in a large bowl with a mixer on medium speed until foamy; increase the speed to medium high and beat until soft peaks form, 2 minutes. Sprinkle in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks form, 3 minutes. With the mixer running, slowly pour in the sugar syrup and beat until cool and glossy, 8 to 10 minutes.
Add the butter a little at a time, beating until incorporated. (It's OK if the mixture looks curdled at first; continue beating.) Beat in the food coloring, then add the lemon zest and juice and beat until smooth, 2 more minutes.
Make the candied zest: Remove the lemon zest with a vegetable peeler and slice into thin strands. Place in a small saucepan, cover with water and bring to a simmer over high heat. Drain the zest and return it to the saucepan; cover with water and repeat 2 more times. Bring the sugar and 3/4 cup water to a bare simmer in a separate saucepan, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the lemon zest strands and cook over low heat, 20 minutes. Drain the zest and arrange in clusters on a parchment-lined baking sheet; let dry.
Frost the cupcakes and top with the candied lemon zest.
Tools You May Need
Courtesy of Food Network Magazine
Tools You May Need
Price and stock may change after publish date, and we may make money off