Last week I received a message from a friend who asked if I would be willing to bake a lemon meringue pie for her dad's birthday. She and I went to high school together and her parents are still local; she and her family were coming in just for the day and didn't want to run around town looking for a pie. No problem! I'm always happy to make food for friends!
Since my parents are out of town, I took the boys over there and we raided the Meyer lemon tree. Nothing like those fragrant citrus to make a tasty tart.
Ingredients makes two 9" tarts
- 2-1/2 C flour
- 1 T organic granulated sugar
- 1 t salt
- 1 C butter (2 sticks), cubed
- 1 t pure lemon extract
- 1 t pure vanilla extract
- 1/4 C water
- 1/4 C gin or vodka (or you can use all water if you prefer not to use gin or vodka)
- 8 eggs, separated (reserve the egg whites for the meringue)
- 10 T flour
- 2 C water
- 2 C organic granulated sugar
- 2 C freshly squeezed lemon juice (this was approximately 8 Meyer lemons)
- zest from 4 organic Meyer lemons
- 6 T butter
- 8 egg whites
- 4 T organic powdered sugar
- 2 t cream of tartar
In a food processor, pulse the flour with the sugar and salt. Add the butter cubes and pulse until chunks the size of small peas form. Pour in lemon extract, vanilla extract, water, and gin. Pulse, again, till the dough comes together in a ball. Turn out the dough onto a piece of parchment paper and knead 2 to 3 times.
Divide in half and press dough into tart pans. Chill in the freezer while you preheat the oven.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Pre-bake the pie crust for 17 to 20 minutes. The crust should be firm and slightly golden brown. Remove from the oven, set aside, and let cool.
Whisk egg yolks in medium mixing bowl and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, whisk together water and sugar. Turn heat on medium and, stirring frequently, bring mixture to a boil. Boil for one minute. Add 1 ladle-full of the syrup to the egg yolks to temper them, then pour the remaining eggs into the syrup. Cook for another minute.
Remove from heat and gently stir in lemon juice, lemon zest, and butter until well combined. Whisk in the flour so there are no clumps, then return to the stove, over low heat, and cook until the mixture thickens to a curd consistency.
Pour the filling into the baked pie shell and set aside. Work quickly to make the meringue.
Place egg whites in a clean medium mixing bowl. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add powdered sugar and cream of tartar. Continue beating until stiff peaks form, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Spoon the meringue over the filling, making sure that the meringue reaches all the way to the edge of the crust. Use a spoon to make some peaks in the meringue as the tops will brown nicely while the low spots will stay white.