I landed my husband with a Lemon Meringue Pie. Well sort of. There was a now famous birthday party where the host (a mutual friend) told his guests to arrive bearing a pie, a talent to perform, and quarters. I understood what was happening with the talent. still not sure about the quarters, but there was a rumor that the pies were to be entered into a contest. My pies are pretty good and I didn’t want to participate, but was peer-pressured.
I barely knew the birthday boy at this point, but a few of my friends were supposed to be there so I wrapped up my 12 hour day of weeding in the garden, hosed myself off and whipped up a pie I believed would be faster to compile than others – you guessed it! It also seemed like a good choice since I knew the judges were all guys, and it has been my experience that all guys like lemon meringue (and rarely get to eat it).
So long story short… I won the pie contest and caught the eye of my future sweetie who was also at the party (his “talent” was setting himself on fire while doing a flaming hula hoop act. I guess you could say that caught MY eye as well). This pie is not really that hard and hey – it might change your life 😉
ONE PRE-BAKED PASTRY SHELL
You can bake one using my go-to perfect pie crust recipe, or cheat a little and get one from the store. The Pepperidge Farm crusts are a little better than Pilsbury.
- 3 egg yolks
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 3 Tbsp butter
- 2 tsp grated lemon peel
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 2 drops yellow food color, if you want
- 3 egg whites
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 6 Tbsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
Get that pie crust ready. Bake it according to the box or the recipe and set it aside. It needs to be ready to go, this recipe goes kind of fast.
Keep the oven hot – 400 degrees. You’re going to pop the whole thing in at the end to get that lovely brown top.
In small bowl, beat egg yolks with fork.
In medium sized saucepan, mix sugar and cornstarch. Stir in the water slowly so you don’t get any clumps.
Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly (I use a whisk), until mixture gets really gloopy, then super smooth. If it’s your first time making lemon curd, it will feel like you have don something horribly wrong.
Whisk until the mixture is all smooth and thick, about 2 minutes.
Immediately whisk in about half of hot mixture into egg yolks.
Add that eggy/cornstarchy mix BACK into hot mixture in the saucepan. Boil and stir 2 minutes; remove from heat.
Stir in butter, lemon peel, and lemon juice.
My home grown egg yolks are plenty yellow, but if you are using store bought you might not think the color is “right”. Feel free to add a couple drops of yellow food color. Stir up one last time and pour the hot lemony yummy into your pre-baked pie crust.
THE AMAZING TOPPING
In medium bowl (or the bowl of your mixer), beat or whisk egg whites and cream of tartar high speed until foamy. Beat in sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time; continue beating until stiff and glossy. Add the vanilla.
It is important that you don’t under beat the whites. If you think they are stiff enough, take your bowl out and do a “peak test”. Dip your whisk (or whisk attachment) into the whites and pull straight up. The peak that is left behind should stand almost straight up. No Dairy Queen loopys! See below for an example of what they should look like.
Spoon the whites onto your hot pie filling. You can start by just globbing it on there,but go back and use your spatula to spread it all around over the filling.
Make sure you create contact between the meringue and the crust all the way around. You are creating a seal around the edge of the crust that will help prevent shrinking or weeping when it cools.
Using your spatula or a clean finger, make sure you make a pretty design in the meringue. Something with some peaks or grooves that will brown a little more and make it interesting.
Bake at 400 degrees for 8 to 12 minutes or until meringue is light brown. IMPORTANT: Do not cut into this beautiful creation for at least 2 hours. It needs to cool, but not be chilled for a little while first. If you pop it into the fridge it will weep and shrink pretty badly. If you cut into it right away, the filling will be pretty runny. Just plan ahead and find a safe spot where cats and kids can’t see/reach it for a couple of hours. Then put it in the fridge until you’re ready to serve. If you have any leftovers (doubtful) cover with saran and refrigerate.