I have never really been into meringue or custardy pies...until about a year ago. It just sort of hit me, and I started trying my hand at them. Meringue can be tricky and so can the lemon filling. Why mess with that when a berry or chocolate pie will do just fine? But when citrus season came around last year and I was up to my eyeballs in pretty lemons and oranges and grapefruits, I was willing to try a lemon meringue pie. And then my mom told me that lemon meringue had been her dad's favorite pie. He passed away when I was still very young and I have always felt a little bit cheated by that. So when I heard he loved them, it just seemed a natural way to feel connected to family that I never really knew. So lemon meringue pie, I love you for sentimental reasons, and oh, that fluffy, crispy, marshmallowy meringue with that tangy, creamy lemony filling. Now I can't remember why I never really liked it...
Anyway, here's a spin on the old classic. It's not as hard as it seems, I'm all about that. And there's no crust in this recipe, except the crust that is meringue...and really, its just. so. good.
What you will need:
For the meringue: (which is the crust)
4 egg whites, room temperature
1 tablespoon cold water
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup of sugar
Butter to grease the pie pan
Three mini deep dish pie pans or one 8in pie plate
For the filling:
5 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon lemon zest (loosely packed)
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2/3 cup prepared *whipped cream
For the topping:
1 overflowing cup of prepared *whipped cream
*you can use whatever you like for the whipped cream but we like to make homemade with heavy whipping cream and powdered sugar. If you are going to make homemade whip cream for this recipe you will need 16oz of heavy whipping cream and about 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar. To make the whipped cream, beat the heavy whipping cream on high until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Now remove 2/3 cup of the whip cream and set aside to add to the lemon filling. Now add 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar to the remaining whipped cream and beat another 30 seconds, or until all the sugar is incorporated. Set aside in fridge to chill.
What you will do:
Preheat the oven to 300f
Butter your pie pans and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer beat egg whites and the tablespoon of cold water on high until foamy, next add the cream of tartar and continue to beat until soft peaks form, about 1 minute. Slowly add the one cup of sugar, little bit by little bit with the mixer remaining on high. Beat until thick, glossy peak forms, 4-5 minutes.
Divide meringue batter between 3 mini pie pans (or one 8in pie plate) and smooth to bottom and up around the sides and on the edge, creating a "crust". Try to keep the meringue the same thickness through out the entire pan and keep the centers hallowed out (Where you will place the lemon filling). *You may have a little excess meringue left over.
Bake meringue for 45 minutes, or until you have a nice golden, crisp edge. After 45 minutes, turn oven off and allow meringue to set in oven for another 30 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack and allow to cool completely.
Meanwhile start your lemon filling, whisk your egg yolks in a small saucepan (off of the heat), until thickened, about 2 minutes, now add the sugar, lemon juice and zest and whisk until combined. Move the egg yolk mixture to the burner and heat over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon constantly until the mixture becomes very thick, about 10 minutes. Don't rush this step, let it get good and thick, and don't stop stirring or it will curdle!
Remove lemon filling from heat and place in bowl and cover with cling wrap (right onto the filling) and place in fridge to cool, at least an hour.
Once filling is completely cooled remove from the fridge and whisk until smooth. Next add the 2/3 cup of prepared whipped cream to the filling, mixing gently until combined.
Top the meringue "crust" with the lemon filling, dividing the filling evenly between the three mini pie pans, or into the one 8in pie plate.
Cover loosely and chill in the fridge for 2-3 hours, or until set up.
Before serving top with sweetened whipped cream and lemon zest.
*recipe adapted from Martha Stewart, it can be found here.