|The perfect Lemon Meringue Pie|
Henry's favorite pie in the world is Lemon Meringue, and over the years I have tried several recipes, but last night, for his birthday (in passover) I believe that I located the definitive recipe. Well, for me at least. What I like about this one is that it is not cloyingly sweet, and the meringue, as well as the filling is deeply lemony.
The recipe is a mash-up of a coconut crust fruit dessert, and the Lemon Meringue pie recipe by Evan Kleiman, food editor for KCRW, the radio station I listen to when I am in LA.
It is a little more complicated than some recipes that I have tried, because it is made with Italian Meringue.
Italian meringue is made by beating egg whites until they reach soft fluffy peaks, then slowly streaming in sugar syrup (boiling sugar) and beating the mixture until it is thick and glossy. In comparison, basic meringue, also known as a French meringue, is made by beating granulated sugar into egg whites until the mixture reaches soft peaks. The hot sugar syrup used to make Italian meringue essentially cooks the egg whites as it is incorporated. This means that you don’t need to cook or bake the meringue before using it. It also means that the meringue is going to be a lot more stable and much less likely to deflate or weep than a simple meringue is.
The recipe calls for cream of tartar, which you may or may not use on passover, but according to my rabbi, any OU (kosher) cream of tartar is kosher for passover. You can consult your own rabbi if you don't want to trust mine.
Passover Coconut Crust:
2 cups unsweetened dried coconut
1/2 cup sugar
2 egg whites
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract.
Preheat oven to 350° .
Mix ingredients together in a bowl.
Lightly oil a pie pan, or a fluted tart pan with a removable bottom, and pack the coconut mixture evenly, being sure to bring it all the way up the sides.
Bake the crust for 20 minutes or so until the crust is beginning to brown.
Set the crust aside to cool completely before you add the hot filling.
Leave the oven on, you will need it in a few minutes again to brown the meringue.
5 egg whites room temperature
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon lemon juice
To Make Meringue
Use a small heavy saucepan to make the sugar syrup.
Put the sugar, water and lemon juice in the pan. Do not stir. Cover the pan and bring the mixture to a boil. Remove the cover when the sugar is completely melted and the mixture is at a lively boil. Put your candy thermometer in the mixture. The syrup will be ready to pour into the soft peak egg whites (see below) when it is at soft boil stage or a tiny bit above, 235 – 241°. I tend to go to the higher temperature or even 242°
Meanwhile, put the room temperature egg whites in the bowl of your mixer and at low speed let the egg whites beat until they are foamy. Add the cream of tartar. Turn the mixer up to medium speed and continue to beat until they are at soft peaks.
When the sugar syrup is ready (a soft boil on candy thermometer), turn on the mixer to medium again. Slowly pour the sugar syrup into the egg whites. Try to focus the stream in between the beater and the side of the bowl. When all the sugar syrup is poured into the whites turn the mixer to high and let the whites beat until the mixture froths up into thick, glossy, very stiff peak clouds.
1 cup sugar
4 teaspoons potato starch
1 cup lemon juice
5 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
To Make Filling
Whisk sugar and potato starch together in a medium saucepan. You want the dry ingredients combined with no lumps. Don’t get crazy about it, but no big lumps. Add lemon juice and whisk until blended with sugar – potato starch mixture. Add yolks and eggs. Whisk well.
Place over medium heat and alternately whisk and stir with heat resistant spatula being sure to sweep the bottom of the pan with the spatula. First the mixture will thin out and it seems that it will never thicken, then as the mixture heats up it will begin to bubble around the edges and thicken quickly. Keep whisking/stirring so you don’t get scrambled eggs. When the mixture is obviously thickened and has come to a boil remove it from the heat and pour into your prepared crust.
As soon as the filling is in the pie crust turn your attention to the meringue. If it has been sitting for a couple of minutes then beat it again. In order to avoid weeping you need to seal the filling completely with meringue. I start with the edge, using a thin pastry spatula or dinner knife to spread meringue so that it covers the seam where the crust meets the filling. Once that is done you can spoon the rest of the meringue on the pie and go to town making big pillowy swirls and peaks. The more swirls and peaks, the more browning you’ll have.
Once you’re done playing with the meringue pop it in the oven for 15 minutes or until the meringue is set and browned to your liking. Let it cool then refrigerate until ready to serve.