I have been making lemon meringue pies and tarts for years and years, but I have finally mastered what D calls "the actual good meringue." Okay, that was rude. However, I have to agree; once I started making Italian meringue, my pies disappear much more quickly!
The taste is a perfect sweet foil to the tart lemon filling; the texture is fluffy and light, just marshmallow fluff; and - maybe my favorite part of this meringue - the look. You can form dramatic, steep peaks. And, once you torch them, they are stunningly gorgeous.
And, after I served another pie for Easter, I realized that I had neglected to post my actual good meringue! So, here we go. Oh, and my filling it's a traditional gelatin lemon filling; I fill mine with straight lemon curd. It's mouth-puckeringly delicious.
Ingredients makes 1 pie
- 2 cups flour plus more for rolling
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 3/4 cup butter, cold and cubed
- 3 to 4 Tablespoons gin, as needed
- 1 to 2 Tablespoons cold water, as needed
- Also needed: rolling pin, pie pan
- 1-1/2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1-1/2 cups sugar
- 9 eggs
- 16 Tablespoons butter
- 4 egg whites
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- lemon zest
- Also needed: saucepan, hand-blender, kitchen torch
CrustIn a food processor, combine the flour and sugar, pulsing 3 to 4 times. Add the butter and pulse until the texture looks mealy. Sprinkle in your liquids and pulse until combined. Remove the dough and press into a ball. Divide the dough in thirds and one of those thirds into half again. Form a single ball and wrap tightly with plastic. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
During the last 30 minutes of chilling, preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the disk of dough from the refrigerator. Place the dough on a lightly floured piece of parchment paper. Sprinkle the top of the dough with flour and roll out into a 12" circle. Place dough into pie pan. Gently press the dough into the sides of the pan, crimping and trimming the edges as necessary.
This crust is blind-baked, so line the bottom of the crust with parchment paper and weigh it down with pie weights or beans or rice. Place the crust in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove the parchment paper and weights. Wrap a foil strip around the rim so that the crust edge doesn't burn. Return the crust to the oven for an additional 15 minutes. The crust should be firm and lightly golden brown. Let cool while you make the filling.
Place juice and sugar in a heavy-bottomed skillet. I like to use my enameled cast iron braiser for this process. Heat over medium and whisk until the sugar dissolves.
In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs to break up the yolks and create a homogenous color. This step is important as you don't want scrambled eggs in your curd.
Add the eggs to the juice and keep whisking. Once the mixture begins to thicken and hold whisk marks, add the butter and whisk until melted.
Cook just until the curd is thickened again. It will continue to thicken as it cools, so don't worry if it's still a little bit liquidy. As long as it hold whisk marks, you're good. Pour the curd into the pre-baked pie crust and let cool. Depending on the size of your pie, you might have extra curd; I usually spoon it into a sterilized jar and refrigerate. It keeps for about 2 weeks...if it lasts that long!
Once it's fully cooled, place it in the refrigerator until you are ready to top it with meringue and serve.
Place water and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Swirl to dissolve the sugar completely. Keep at a low simmer while you work with the egg whites.
Separate the yolks and the whites, placing the whites in a clean mixing bowl and reserving the yolks for a different purpose. With a hand-blender, beat the whites until they hold soft peaks. Bring the syrup to a rolling boil, then carefully pour the syrup into the whites. Beat to incorporate, then sprinkle in the cream of tartar. Beat until stiff peaks form.
Assembly and Serving
Once your meringue is done, spoon it onto the cooled pie. Use a spoon - or clean fingers - to form peaks in the meringue. Then torch the peaks to a rich brown color. Grate zest over the top and serve immediately.