Monday, October 5, 2009

Mile High Lemon Meringue Pie

Hello out again, finally. Yes, I know - one of the golden rules for maintaining an audience for your blog is to POST OFTEN. But guess what? I actually have an excuse that is more than just "I got busy." I got pregnant! We are a little suprised, but blessed and getting more excited by the day to meet our new little bean in March.

The only thing I could have blogged about in the past 3 months would have been Jamba Juice, grilled cheese or pre-natal vitamins. For some reason, the nausea bug hit hard this time, much worse than my previous two. I could not get enough watermelon, strawberries and lemonade, but handling raw meat gave me the heebies, especially chicken. If I could manage to cook something for the family, the last thing I wanted to do was photograph it and write about it. Ew.

But now I'm feeling better and ready to start cooking again. I got this recipe from the show America's Test Kitchen, which I DVR'd and watched twice. I'm not going to lie, this pie was time consuming and tedious. It seems like it took me a good part of a day. With all the timing and cooling, it is very precise...but that's what the test kitchen is for - they do all the legwork for a perfect recipe every time. And perfect it is! The filling is tart and rich, the meringue fluffy, creamy and stacked to the sky. Instead of baking the pie to cook the meringue, it uses an Italian Meringue which is cooked by hot sugar syrup that you stream in while whipping. This prevents the common "weeping" of water from the egg whites, which makes your meringue slide off and get goopy over time.

So read this a few times before you start. I made my own pie crust, but next time will just buy a pre-made one and save the extra step.

Lemon Filling
1 ¼ cup sugar
1 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons finely grated zest (see note)
½ cup water
3 tablespoons cornstarch
¼ teaspoon salt
8 large egg yolks (4 whites reserved for the meringue)
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces and softened
Note: Zest the lemons before juicing them.

Whisk sugar, lemon juice, water, cornstarch and salt together in a large nonreactive saucepan until cornstarch is dissolved. Bring to simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally until mixture becomes translucent and begins to thicken, about 5 minutes. Whisk in egg yolks until combined. Stir in zest and butter. Bring to simmer and stir constantly until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 2 minutes. Pour into cooked and cooled pie crust. Place plastic wrap directly on surface of filling and refrigerate until set and well chilled, at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.

½ cup water
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites (reserved from filling)
Pinch of salt
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Combine water and sugar in small saucepan. Bring to a vigorous boil over medium to high heat. Once syrup comes to a rolling boil, cook for exactly 4 minutes (mixture will become slightly thickened and syrupy). Remove from heat and set aside while beating egg whites. The 4 minute time frame was stressed in the show to get the sugar syrup to the right temperature.

Beat egg whites in stand mixer at medium-low speed until frothy, about 2 minutes. Add salt and cream of tartar, and beat gradually increasing speed to medium-high, until egg whites hold soft peaks, about 2 minutes. With the mixer running, slowly pour hot syrup into whites. Add vanilla and beat until the meringue has cooled and becomes very thick and shiny, 7-9 minutes)

Using a rubber spatula, mound meringue over filling, making sure meringue touches the edges of the crust. Use the spatula to create peaks all over the meringue. Bake until peaks turn golden brown, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Serve.

This picture was taken after the pie had been under a piece of plastic wrap and sitting in the fridge overnight. You can see how well the meringue stood up! Yes, I have to admit - this was breakfast today. At least I can blame it on the baby now. (evil grins)


Sophie said...

Congratulations on your sweet surprise! This is one heavenly looking pie, and it's not just because the meringue looks like a yummy fluffy cloud :).

Cherie said...

Congrats! I am glad you feel better.

Your pie looks amazing! I am going to try making it myself! This is one of my favourite pies....who am I kidding! They are all my favourite pie! lol

Anonymous said...

So kind of you to go through the dvd and test and recopy this for "us" who don't necessarily have the money to buy all the books they need to sell us. I tried to get THIS recipe online, but it says, MEMBERS ONLY and tells me how much I have to pay per year. I will think of you and the babies when I make this great pie!

Deanna S. said...

I know...America's Test Kitchen recipes are hard to find for free now. I've recorded and saved over 50 episodes so hopefully I will post some more up soon. Hope your pie turns out!

firstex said...

I just saw this being prepared on TV today, and I was positive she said to add lemon extract rather than vanilla in the meringue. Any way to verify?

Deanna S. said...

firstex- Unfortunately, my hubby "accidentally" erased my 50+ episodes. A little bummed but I have to admit, they were taking up way too much space on the DVR!! I don't think I would ever buy lemon extract, but maybe you should give it a shot???!! Good luck...

Donna said...

Thank you for sharing this recipe. I made it but used a shortbread crust and put it in a 9x13 baking dish. It was fantastic. To firstex: I saw the show and she used vanilla extract. The filling is very lemony with 1 cup of juice and 2 tablespoons of zest. Yum E!