Cinco de Mayo is upon us and very few of us can leave our homes. The only margaritas available to us are the ones we make ourselves and takeout tacos are a poor substitute for fresh. But I will soldier on and mark the day with this Margarita Meringue Pound Cake with Tequila Lime Curd. I know, it’s incredibly noble of me to eat pound cake in such desperate times. I am frequently lauded for my martyr-like tendencies.
Boozy Curd FTW
Okay, I can’t keep up this charade. I didn’t really make this cake with Cinco de Mayo in mind. It was simply a convenient excuse. I just sort of wondered what would happen if you mixed tequila into lime curd. And the moment I thought about that, the idea for this cake emerged. Then, I consulted my content calendar to find an appropriate time to post my imagined cake and Cinco de Mayo leaped out at me. The perfect excuse for a Margarita Meringue Pound Cake.
The True Meaning of Cinco de Mayo
To tell you the truth, I don’t really think about Cinco de Mayo all that much. Of course, I’m in favor of any or all celebrations centered around tacos but I’m not particularly drawn to Cinco de Mayo. I think it’s more popular in the states? And I do believe it is not particularly important in Mexico and is only marked in the state of Puebla. The day marks the anniversary of the Mexican victory over French forces in 1862, which happened in Puebla. At least that is the date’s official significance.
In the United States Cinco de Mayo is more of a celebration of Mexican culture and identity. But here in Canada, Cinco de Mayo seems to be an excuse to eat vast quantities of tacos and hit the tequila hard. So yeah, the date doesn’t figure all that prominently in my life. This cake more or less exists in the service of that boozy curd idea I had.
The Curd that Started it All
So let’s talk about this famous curd. Well, when I set out on this adventure, I knew I wanted the curd to be a filling. I also knew from experience that a runny curd is all well and good if you’re serving it scone-side, but as a filling, well, it’s a literal mess. So, to nip this potential problem in the bud, I added the usual amount of egg yolks and an equal number of whole eggs. Egg whites help keep everything thick and spreadable. In addition to the tequila, I also added a touch more salt to mimic the experience of sipping a margarita from a salted rim. If I’m honest, that is my favorite part of the whole dang drink. Salty/sweet for the win!
When Life Hands You Egg Whites…
The “Meringue” in this Margarita Meringue Pound Cake came about because I was left with three spare egg whites from my curd adventure. Now, I hate waste and I am generally pretty good about using all that I have. But when it comes to egg whites, if they are wrapped and stored in my fridge they’re never going to be anything but compost. So, when life hands me egg whites, I have to use them immediately. The second they hit my fridge, it’s over for them. And this hard truth is what gave my cake its golden crown of toasted Italian meringue. If only all my weaknesses could result in such deliciousness.
Putting the “Cake” into Margarita Meringue Pound Cake
Finally, let’s talk about the backbone of this Margarita Meringue Pound Cake – the pound cake itself. Now, I kept the cake fairly straightforward. No craziness here. The curd is really the focus of this dessert, while the cake is basically the backbone. Something to give the dessert structure. So, the cake is a classic pound cake baked into a loaf and simply flavored with lime zest and Mexican vanilla. You don’t have to use Mexican vanilla, I just happen to have some because we usually go to Mexico once a year. Well, at least we did when we could all go places and do things. Anyway, any vanilla bean or extract you have rattling around in your pantry will do the trick.
So, that’s pretty much everything you need to know about this Margarita Meringue Pound Cake. Each component is simple on it own, but they add up to a magnificent dessert. It has it all – good looks, good taste and booze. I mean, why indulge in anything else?
Margarita Meringue Pound Cake with Tequila Lime Curd
- Loaf pan
- Brulee torch
Vanilla Lime Pound Cake
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs room temperature
- 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
- ¼ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- ¾ tsp salt
- ¼ cup + 2 tbsp buttermilk room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 lime zested
Tequila Lime Curd
- 4 limes juiced and zested
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- ¼ tsp salt
- 3 large egg yolks
- 3 whole large eggs
- ½ oz tequila
- ¼ cup unsalted butter cold, cut into cubes
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup water
- 3 egg whites room temperature
- ½ tsp cream of tartar
- 1 lime sliced thin
For the Cake
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and line a loaf pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Cream the sugar into the butter until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the eggs one at a time, taking care to integrate the first egg before adding the second one.
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Set the mixer to low and add a third of the flour mixture. Once integrated, add a third of the buttermilk. Repeat until the buttermilk and flour mixture are fully incorporated. Add the vanilla and lime zest.
- Pour the finished batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with an offset spatula. Bake the cake for 35 – 40 minutes or until a toothpick can be inserted in the center of the cake and removed cleanly.
- Let the cake cool in its pan for 10 minutes before removing and transferring to a cooling rack. Let cool completely before wrapping tightly in plastic wrap and transferring to the refrigerator. Chill for at least 2 hours.
For the Tequila Lime Curd
- Place the lime juice, zest, sugar, and salt in a non-reactive bowl. Whisk the eggs and egg yolks into the mixture and place the bowl over a saucepan of rapidly simmering water.
- Gently cook the curd until it thickens and reaches 170°F. Take the curd off of the heat and add the tequila and butter. Stir to melt the butter into the curd.
- Once all of the butter is incorporated, force the curd through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Press the plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the curd before transferring it to the fridge. Let chill for 3 hours.
For the Meringue
- Once the curd is set, make the meringue. Pour the water and sugar into a small saucepan and place over high heat.
- While the sugar and water mixture is heating up, place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Add the cream of tartar and whisk on high until soft, foamy peaks form.
- Once the sugar mixture reaches 240°F, take it off of the heat. With the mixer running, slowly stream the hot sugar mixture into the egg whites. Beat on high until stiff peaks form. Set aside until ready to use.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F.
- Remove the ends and the dome portion of the chilled pound cake and set aside. Cut the remaining cake into four evenly-sized layers. Set aside.
- Tear the removed ends and dome of the pound cake into crouton-sized pieces and transfer them to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake the cake pieces in the oven until crunchy and golden, about 15 -20 minutes. Set aside to cool
- Place the bottom layer of the pound cake on a cake stand and cover with ⅓ of the Tequila Lime Curd. Place the second layer of cake on top and repeat the previous steps until you run out of curd and cake.
- Spoon the meringue on top of the cake (you may not need all of the meringue) and decorate with the cake croutons and lime slices. Use a brulee torch to toast the meringue until golden. Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve. This cake is best served the same day the meringue is made.