Thursday, March 9, 2023

Lemon Meringue Pie


  I like to celebrate any and all occasions I possibly can and if that involves dessert, so much the better.  With that said, I am anticipating National Pi Day on March 14 (3/14), and will observe the event with Lemon Meringue Pie. This pie has a cool, creamy, and tart lemon custard filling with a gently toasted, billowy, cloud-like meringue topping.  It’s both light and decadent – the perfect dessert.



 Lemon Meringue Pie
Dry ingredients:
 1 ½ cups sugar
5 TB cornstarch
⅛ tsp salt
Whisk ingredients in a medium-size heavy sauce pan. 
Lemon Custard ingredients:  
4 egg yolks
1 ¾ cups milk (I never have whole milk on hand, but I always have skim and cream.  Usually, I mix the skim and cream half and half, for a richer version of whole milk.)
½ cup lemon juice
3 TB butter
Zest of one lemon
 Whisk yolks until light and lemon-colored, then whisk in milk and lemon juice until well-combined.

Whisk into dry mixture in sauce pan over medium heat.  Stir constantly until mixture thickens, about 10 minutes.  Bring to a boil and whisk for 1 minute.  Remove from heat and stir in butter and zest until smooth.  Pour custard into baked piecrust.

Some pie recipes, like this one, require pre-baking or “blind-baking” the crust, which means baking the crust first without any filling in it.  When pre-baking a crust, I always crimp it to give it nice scalloped edges to avoid slumping and I fork-prick the bottom of the crust to avoid air pockets bubbling and the bottom puffing up.  I use a glass pie dish and chill the dough before blind-baking.  Heat oven to 325° and bake the crust about 25 minutes, or until golden brown.  Watch the crust since oven temperatures vary. Timing will also vary depending on whether you use a store-bought crust or homemade crust because of the differing fat contents.  Just bake it and keep an eye on it.

For the meringue: 
 6 egg whites, room temperature
½ tsp cream of tartar
½ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla

 Beat egg whites and cream of tartar with electric mixer at high speed until foamy.  Gradually add sugar, a tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form, about 4 minutes.  Beat in vanilla.

 Spread meringue over pie filling, sealing edges.  I always like to make decorative swirls with the meringue.

 Bake at 325° 20-25 minutes, or until peaks are lightly browned.  Cool completely on wire rack, then refrigerate.

Before you do the meringue, here are a few things you should know:

Rosie Tip #1:  When beating egg whites, always have them at room temperature to allow for maximum volume.

 Rosie Tip #2:  Don’t let any egg yolk get into the bowl of whites – not even a drop.  The fat in the yolks will coat the proteins in your whites and you won’t be able to properly whip the whites to make meringue.

 Rosie Tip #3:  Use a glass bowl to whip your whites, not plastic.  Plastic bowls tend to develop a thin coat of oil over time.  Again, the fat here will prevent the whites from properly forming bubbles.

 Rosie Tip #4:  Weather affects meringue, so avoid making meringue on a rainy or humid day.  The excess moisture in the air is absorbed by the meringue, making it almost impossible to beat it enough to form stiff peaks, making it take a lot longer for the meringue to dry out in the oven, and making the meringue too soft even after baking.

 Now, for the step-by-steps:

Beat yolks and add in lemon juice.

Add in milk (or milk/cream mixture).
Add egg mixture to dry ingredients in sauce pan.


Cook over medium heat , stirring, until thickened, about 10 minutes.  Bring to boil and whisk for 1 minute.  Remove from heat and stir in butter and lemon zest until smooth.

Here's the baked crust.

Prepare the meringue:


Beat the whites with cream of tartar at high speed until foamy.

Add sugar a tablespoon at a time.
Beat until stiff peaks form.

Beat in vanilla.


Pour custard into baked pie shell.

Smooth custard top.

Plop meringue on top.

Spread it over edges.
Give it some 

And bake to gently brown the meringue.

To serve, take the circumference, divide by the diameter, and have yourself some pi !


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