Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Lemon Meringue Pie

It's always a good time for pie!!! If you're a follower, you know I'm pretty much obsessed with pie. However, Lemon Meringue just may be my favorite. It is such a wonderful, balanced combination. The light and airy meringue cuts the invigorating, sharp lemon flavor, and then, your bite finishes with the texture and flavor of a flaky, buttery crust. Just perfection!

Hope you enjoy this classic, fresh recipe! I've tried to insert suggestions throughout as pies can definitely be tricky.

*1 recipe for pie crust (just the bottom), see my Perfect Pie Crust, or store bought works fine in a pinch
* 1 1/4 cups sugar
* 5 tablespoons corn starch
* 1 cup milk (preferably whole milk)
* 1/8 teaspoon salt
* 6 large egg yolks
* 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
* 2 tablespoons lemon zest
* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 4 large egg whites
* 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
* 8 tablespoons confectioners' sugar

Pie Crust
*If you are making your own dough, make sure to line the bottom of the crust with parchment paper and some kind of weight. I use pie weights (pictured below), but I've also heard that dry beans or rice work well if you don't want to buy weights.
** This is important because otherwise the crust will bubble and rise, and it may crack when it is time to fill your pie.

* Place foil or pie crust cover around the edge of the crust, so the edges will not burn.
* Bake your pie crust according to package or recipe directions -- if you use mine, bake at 375F for about 12 minutes, until the crust is set.
* Remove the parchment paper, weights, and foil (covering the edges), and bake for another 8 minutes, until the crust is light golden.
* Cool the pie crust on a cooling rack (works quicker if you have one) before filling.

Lemon Filling
* In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, cornstarch, milk, water, and salt.
* Over medium heat, bring to a simmer, whisking occasionally.
* Once the mixture thickens and becomes transparent in color (after about 5 minutes), move the pan off the heat (momentarily), and slowly incorporate the egg yolks by whisking in two at a time.
* Slowly add the lemon juice and zest, whisking constantly.
* Add the butter, while continuing to whisk constantly.
* Return your pan to the heat and return to a simmer, while continuing to whisk.
* Once your filling has simmered, and is nice and thick, remove from the heat, and immediately pour into your cooled pie crust.

* Beat the egg whites, cream of tartar, and pinch of salt in a large bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.
* Gradually add the the confectioners' sugar, and beat until glossy, stiff peaks form (stiff, but still spreadable).
* Spread the meringue over the top of the lemon filling while it's still warm, and spread the meringue to the edge of the pie crust (this will help keep the meringue from shrinking when cooked). You can just use a knife, or a pastry bag if you want to do something more decorative.

Browning the Meringue
3 options: 
* Blow torch the top of the meringue.
* Place under broiler for 1-2 minutes, until golden brown.
* Bake at 325F for about 15 minutes.
** The problems I've come across baking the meringue are shrinking and weeping. The meringue will shrink if not spread to the edge of the crust. "Weeping" occurs when a watery film gathers between the meringue and the filling. That's why it's important to spread the meringue when the filling is still warm. I still have a little problem with this, even so, when the meringue is baked (one reason why I bought a blow torch), but if anyone has any other ideas to combat weeping, please share!

Almost Done!
* Transfer the pie to a cooling rack, and cool completely before serving.
* When ready to serve, it's easiest to use a knife dipped in water or buttered/oiled to cut through the meringue.

~ HOPE you enjoy some fresh, citrus decadence!!

* Recipe adapted from here.

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