Do you know what is painful? Nipping your fingers while you are zesting a lemon and then having the juice from that same lemon seep into your open scratch before you have time to grab a band-aid. That’s what! That is why this delicious lemon meringue pie is a “special occasion only” pie…
For the record, I am not a huge pie baker. However, I’m driven to know how to make my husband’s favorite dishes. Besides apple pie, lemon meringue pie is next on his “top pies” list. I learned how to make his favorite apple pie from his former boss, but I had to go digging for a lemon meringue pie recipe. I ended up using a mash-up of recipes from Ina Garten, Alton Brown and Paula Deen. I used Ms. Garten’s pie filling. I just added some cornstarch and whisked it twice as long as she suggested because the filling was too runny initially. For the meringue, I mixed the recipes of Ms. Garten (sugar), Mr. Brown (egg whites) and Ms. Deen (cream of tartar). I was so shocked that meringue was so easy to make. If you follow the instructions, it’s (almost) impossible to mess it up. It’s also really tasty…I had to stop myself and the boys from eating it so that there would be some left over for the actual pie!
Initially, I wasn’t going to share this recipe with you because I just used a shortbread crust that I purchased at the store. However, I was talking with some friends recently and they all agreed that preparing the lemon filling and meringue was more than enough to make it “mine”. (I’ll be sure to update this post when I do make it with a homemade crust though.) In any event, my husband thought that this was one of the best lemon meringue pies that he ever tasted…so it was worth the “pain” 🙂
Best Lemon Meringue Pie
Yield: 1 pie
- 1 (9-inch) pre-baked pie shell (I used a shortbread one.)
- 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 7 extra large eggs (4 whole plus 3 yolks)
- 1/4 cup finely grated lemon zest (8 lemons)
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 2 tsps cornstarch
- 1/8 tsp kosher (or regular table) salt
- 4 extra large egg whites, room temperature
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 1/2 cup sugar
- Preheat the over to 375 degrees F. (The oven rack should be in the middle position.)
- For the lemon filling: Using an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together in a large bowl for one minute. (I started off on setting “2” and then turned it up to “4”.)
- On low speed (“1”), add the 4 eggs and 3 egg yolks one at a time. (I paused 15 seconds between adding each new egg.)
- Next, add the lemon zest, lemon juice, corn starch and salt.
- Pour the contents of the bowl into a small saucepan and cook it over medium low heat for 10 minutes until it thickens while stirring constantly with a wooden spoon.
- When the mixture starts to thicken, whisk it briskly and cook it over a low heat for 10 more minutes while periodically whisking it.
- (Be careful not to boil the filling. It should be 175 degrees when using a cooking thermometer.)
- Pour the lemon filling into a bowl and allow it to cool to room temperature.
- For the meringue: Put the 4 egg whites and cream of tartar into a large bowl.
- Using an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on a high speed (“5”) until frothy peaks form.
- With the mixer still running, slowly add the sugar and continue beating the mixture until the meringue is thick (two minutes).
- Pour the cooled lemon filling into the pie shell and dollop the meringue completely over the filling. Make sure that the meringue covers all of the filling and touches/seals to the edges of the pie shell crust.
- Bake the pie until the meringue is golden brown (approximately 12 minutes).
- Remove the pie from the oven and cool it to room temperature on a wire rack.
- Place the pie in a refrigerator until it is completely chilled (approximately 3 hours) before slicing and serving.