Monday, February 6, 2012

Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemon Meringue Pie.  Tart, Sweet, Soft, Foamy, Flaky.  Need I say more?  This recipe is from the America's Test Kitchen.  Nothing they do is bad, and most of it is fantastic.  Need I say more?
A word on the crust.  The crust is good.  It's great, in fact.  But it takes a good long time to make.  So if you want this pie to be done quickly, buy a pre-made crust. 

Lemon Meringue Pie
Recipe by America's Test Kitchen

Crust Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup flour
1 T sugar
3 T vegetable shortening
4 T butter, chilled and cut into 1/4" cubes
4-5 T ice water
4 sheets graham crackers, crushed (about 1/2 cup crushed)

Pie Crust Instructions:
Pulse the flour and sugar in a food processor until combined.  Add shortening and process for 10 seconds.  Scatter the butter over the flour mixture and process until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs, about 10 seconds.  Add 4 T ice water and process until dough just comes together.  If it doesn't come together, add the remaining ice water, a teaspoon at a time, until it does.  Flatten the dough into a 4-inch circle and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days.
Before rolling, sprinkle part of the graham cracker crumbs on the work surface (instead of flour).  Roll the dough into a 12-inch circle.  Sprinkle with remaining crumbs and press in.  Line a 9-inch pie plate with the dough and crimp the edges.  Refrigerate for 40 minutes, then frees for at least 20 minutes.
Heat an oven to 375F.  Press a sheet of heavy-duty foil over the frozen crust, covering the inside and sides completely.  Fill with pie weights or dry beans.  Bake for 25 minutes, then remove foil and weights and continue to bake for an additional 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown.  Let cool while making the pie.

Lemon Filling Ingredients:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 cups cold water
6 large egg yolks
1 T grated lemon zest
1/2 cup lemon juice (about 2-3 lemons)
2 T butter

Lemon Filling Instructions:
Have all ingredients pre-measured and close at hand.  Mix sugar, cornstarch, and water in a large saucepan.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally at the beginning, then more frequently as the mixture gets hotter.  When mixture starts to simmer and turn translucent, whisk in egg yolks, two at a time.  Whisk in zest, then juice, and finally butter.  Bring to a good simmer, whisking constantly.  Then remove from heat and press plastic wrap directly on surface to prevent skin from forming as you make the meringue.

Meringue Ingredients:
1 T cornstarch
1/3 cup water
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar
4 large egg whites
1/2 tsp vanilla

Meringue Instructions:
Mix cornstarch with water in a small saucepan.  Bring to a simmer, whisking constantly, until mixture thickens and turns translucent.  Remove from heat and set aside.
Heat oven to 325F.
Mix cream of tartar and sugar together.  Beat egg whites and vanilla until frothy.  Beat in sugar mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time, until sugar is incorporated and mixture forms soft peaks.  Add cornstarch mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time.  Continue to beat until meringue forms soft peaks and is shiny.

To assemble the pie:
Pour hot lemon filling into pie crust.  Using a rubber spatula, distribute the meringue around the edge and then the center of the pie, making sure the meringue attaches to the edges of the crust to prevent shrinking.  Use the spatula or the back of a spoon to make decorative peaks in the meringue.  Bake until the meringue is golden brown, about 20 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature, then chill if desired.
Serves 8-10. 

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