From Scratch: Lemon Meringue Pie

© Hans Hillewaert / CC-BY-SA-3.0

My mom taught me that food should match the season in flavor and in color, which is why I decided to contribute a bright and vibrant lemon meringue pie to my friend and her family’s Easter dinner this past weekend. I love pie. All pie. Fruit, cream, layered, meat pot pies, cookie crust, shortbread crust, flaky crust… you slice it, I love it. The recipe I used is a mix and match game of my own crust, an adaptation of a lemon filling from Gourmet circa 1995 (find it online at Epicurious.com) and a basic meringue topping.

Ingredients:

12 graham crackers
3 tbs melted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 c. sugar
5 tbs cornstarch
1 c. half and half
1/4 c. water
1/4 tsp salt
4 egg yolks
1 tbs lemon zest
3/4 c. fresh lemon juice
4 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/3 c. sugar

For the crust:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor, pulse the graham crackers until evenly broken down to bread crumb size, about 20 one-second pulses. Transfer to a bowl and using your fingers, toss with butter and vanilla extract until crackers are coated. Press into a 9-inch pie plate making sure that all the edges and the bottom are even. (Use the bottom of a measuring cup to help make it even.) Bake the crust for about 10 minutes until set and golden brown. Allow to cool on a wire rack.

For the lemon filling:

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, half & half, water, and salt until the cornstarch dissolves. Continue to cook, stirring frequently until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks together until combined. Temper the yolks with the cornstarch mixture by drizzling the hot liquid into the eggs while quickly whisking. Return the egg and cornstarch mixture to the pot over medium heat and continue to cook, stirring constantly until the custard thickens. Pour into the prepared crust, cover with plastic wrap (pressing it directly onto the surface so that a skin doesn’t form), and refrigerate until completely cool.

In a clean, dry bowl add the egg whites and cream of tartar. Using a hand mixer, whip the whites. When they begin to foam and thicken slowly add the sugar one tablespoon at a time. Continue beating until the whites are at stiff peaks. Transfer the meringue to the top of the pie, spreading it out to completely cover the pie and crust. Using a spatula, draw the meringue to peaks then place in the oven until the top is evenly browned. Served chilled or at room temperature.

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