June 3, 2010

Citrus Meringue Pie

This post is for my new friend Karyn. I recently took this pie to a book swap at her house and she asked that I share the recipe. I never expected anyone to be that thrilled about the pie I brought, I myself was more impressed with my appetizer (which I promise to share also) but noooo, it was the Citrus Pie that garnered rave reviews.

Meringues are not hard (in fact I have a Pavlova in the oven as I type) they just require a little patience, but nothing complicated. For my family, it is a great way to use up all of our chicken eggs because they use so many eggs in one recipe. Some hints to keep in mind when making meringues: First you want to make sure your egg whites are pristine, no bits of yolk in them and the metal bowl must be clean too, no traces of grease. Next, be sure to let the egg whites sit out and get to room temp (about 30 mins).  As you beat the egg whites, they will get a little foamy, this is time to add your sugar. Then you need to beat them on high for few minutes until they are spiky and hold those spikes even when you stop the mixer. Don't be tempted to beat them more than this, more is not better in this case. You will end up with over beaten, breaking apart white tips in your meringue.

Citrus Meringue Pie

1 Prebaked pie shell (make your own or purchase one and bake it according the package directions)

(Lemon Filling)
1 c sugar
3 tbsp cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
2 c milk
4 eggs, separated (put yolks in a small bowl and whites in a big mixing bowl)
1 tsp grated citrus rind (you can be traditional and use lemon, but I like to use orange or grapefruit)
1/3 c lemon juice
3 tbsp butter

1/2 tsp cream of tarter
1/4 c and 2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 350 degree.
Combine sugar, cornstarch and salt in saucepan. Gradually add milk, stirring until blended. Cook on med heat. Keep stirring and mix will thicken and comes to a boil (stand back or you may get splattered on). Boil 1 min (don't stop that stirring) and then remove from heat.  In small bowl, beat the egg yolks with whisk until they are thick and pale yellow. Add a little of the hot milk mixture to the egg yolks to temper them. This is a fancy way of saying you don't want to end up with scrambled eggs in your lemon pudding. You add a little hot milk mix to warm the egg yolks slowly. So stir a little in and then add a little more hot milk mix to the egg yolks until your small bowl feels pretty hot in there. Then it is safe to add the egg yolks directly to the hot milk mixture. Put back on med heat and stir, stir, stir about 2-3 mins. (Yes there is a LOT of stirring in this recipe, but it's worth it.) Remove mixture from heat and add citrus rind, lemon juice and butter. Stir again until it's all incorporated. Congratulations, you have just made homemade pudding! Pour this yummy glop into the pie shell.

Then in your large mixing bowl beat the egg whites and cream of tarter on med high until they are foamy (about a min). Turn down the mixer to med and gradually add the 1/4 c and 2 tbsp sugar. Then turn the mixer back up to high and let her rip. Creating the perfect spiky peaked egg white foam takes about 2-4 minutes. This is where I love having a KitchenAid stand mixer because I can walk away and do something else while the mixer does the work. It's also nice because every time I use the mixer I get an upper body workout - the thing is so darn heavy! After you have stiff peaks, beat in the vanilla. Then carefully pour the egg whites onto the pie filling. Seal the egg whites all the way to the edges of the pie crust so it doesn't pull away when baking. Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes and the top will be a golden brown. Let cool on a wire rack and then you can put in the fridge for a couple of hours if you like it cold. Don't worry if the meringue "sweats" it won't change the taste.

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