It's January and 50 degrees, which is just plain wrong. Everything is muddy and foggy. I want real winter! I want people to quit being jerks on facebook! I want women to be respected by our president! When life gives you lemons, they say make lemonade. Jimmy Buffet says to pass the tequila and salt. I say make lemon meringue pie.
I made this pie for my friend Liz who bought my "Pie of the Month" club donation at my church's silent auction. I really like a meringue with attitude, like this one. I originally got the idea from Cook's Country magazine for a super tall meringue that relies on a cooked syrup. Think of it as a giant marshmallow perched on top of the pie. Their recipe called for more egg yolks than I usually use, so I went for it. Can't go wrong with a more rich custard, along with a generous amount of lemon rind. Their recipe was a bit more cumbersome than it needed to be, so I adapted it to suit my way of cooking. And since there were extra egg whites to be had, why not make meringues for myself?
Lemon Meringue Pie + Meringues
For Lemon Filling
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup lemon juice (from 6 lemons)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon table salt
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
8 large egg yolks (reserve 4 whites for meringue topping and the other 4 for meringues)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened
1 (9-inch) pie shell, fully baked and cooled
For Meringue Topping
1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites (reserved from filling)
pinch table salt
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whisk sugar, lemon juice, water, cornstarch, and salt and lemon zest together in large nonreactive saucepan until cornstarch is dissolved. Bring to simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until mixture becomes translucent and begins to thicken, about 5 minutes. Whisk in yolks until combined. Stir in zest and butter. Bring to simmer and stir constantly until mixture is thick enough to coat back of spoon, about 2 minutes. Place plastic wrap directly on surface of filling and refrigerate until set and well chilled, at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.
To make meringue topping: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Combine water and sugar in small saucepan. Bring to vigorous boil over medium-high heat. Once syrup comes to rolling boil, cook 4 minutes (mixture will become slightly thickened and syrupy). Remove from heat and set aside while beating whites.
With electric mixer, beat whites in large bowl at medium-low speed until frothy, about 1 minute. Add salt and cream of tartar and beat, gradually increasing speed to medium-high, until whites hold soft peaks, about 2 minutes. With mixer running, slowly pour hot syrup into whites (avoid pouring syrup onto whisk or it will splash). Add vanilla and beat until meringue has cooled and becomes very thick and shiny, 5 to 9 minutes.
Using rubber spatula, mound meringue over filling, making sure meringue touches edges of crust. Use spatula to create peaks all over meringue. Bake until peaks turn golden brown, about 6 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature.
To make meringues, use my recipe here with the remaining 4 egg whites.
After dropping off the pie at my friend's house. I took to facebook and started unfollowing people that spew vitriol on social media. It's a great day!