Welcome to Natasha's Creative Confections! If you have stumbled upon this blog page, then you're in for a real treat! One of my favorite things to do is bake. If you choose to read on you will find pictures and recipes of some of the fabulous treats that I have created. So take a look around and enjoy!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

~Lemon Meringue Pie~

What better way to kick off summer with a tangy, tart & tasty Lemon Meringue Pie. Wait...not summer weather you might say? Oh well...that shouldn't stop you from enjoying all the wonderful treats that are a part of this magnificent season.

My family and I planned a BBQ last Sunday. Yes, it was overcast, cloudy, drizzling, and pouring rain all at different points of the day, but why let that stop you from enjoying the great food that comes from BBQing? :) We had a great menu planned out and I brought dessert! I haven't made a pie in a really long time--honestly, I think it's been over a year! CRAZY. So, I had to make one! The recipe I used came from Dorie Greenspan's cookbook Baking, From My Home to Yours, and was actually for a Lime Meringue. I just substituted lemons.

This pie took quite a lot longer to make than I had expected. Making the lemon part of the pie was tedious and time consuming! You have to cook the lemon juice, peel, sugar and other ingredients until it reaches a certain temperature. It's not hard to do, but it's hard to get the filling to 180 degrees if you don't have the proper equipment to help out!

**Invest in heat proof metal mixing bowls. I made the mistake of using plastic, and it seems to work against you in the long run. Plus, metal bowls are just better in general for baking**

I finally got the lemon to a point where it was hot enough, and was able to stir in the butter, which is how you make the lemon cream filling. This chills for at least 4 hours before you use it in the pie. This pie is actually not baked after it is assembled, which was nice to not have to worry about since it took me so long to make the filling :)

If you enjoy tart lemon flavored items, you most likely will love this pie! It is very appealing to the taste buds and a good choice to at least help remind you of summer, even if the weather isn't cooperating!

For the filling:
-1 cup sugar
-Grated zest of 3 lemons
-4 large eggs, preferably at room temp.
-3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
-2 tsp. cornstarch
-2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces, at room temp.
-1 9-in. graham cracker crust fully baked and cooked, or a regular single crust baked fully and cooled

For the meringue:
-4 large egg whites, at room temp.
-1/2 cup sugar

To Make the Filling:
1. Have an instant-read thermometer, a strainer and a blender or a food processor at hand. Bring a few inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan.
2. Put the sugar and zest into a heatproof bowl that can be set over the pan of simmering water. Off the heat, rub the sugar and zest between your fingertips for a few minutes, until the sugar is moist and the fragrance of lemon is strong. Whisk in the eggs, then whisk in the juice and cornstarch.
3. Set the bowl over the pan and start stirring with the whisk as soon as the mixture feels tepid to the touch. Cook the lemon cream until it reaches 180 degrees F. As you whisk--you must whisk constantly to keep the eggs from scrambling--you'll see that the cream will start out light and foamy, then the bubbles will get bigger, and then, as it gets closer to 180 degrees, it will start to thicken and the whisk will leave tracks. Heads up at this point--the tracks mean the cream is almost ready. Don't stop whisking or checking the temperature, and have patience--depending on how much heat you're giving the cream, getting to the right temperature might take awhile.

4. As soon as it reaches 180 degrees, remove the cream from the heat and strain the cream into the container of the blender. Discard the zest. Let it cool until it reaches 140 degrees F, about 10 minutes.
5. Turn the blender to high speed and add the butter a few pieces at a time. Scrape down the sides of the container as needed as you incorporate the butter. After all the butter is in, continue to blend the cream for another 3 minutes. If you find the machine is getting really hot, work in 1-minute intervals, giving the machine a little rest between beats.

6. Pour the cream into a container, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface and refrigerate the cream for at least 4 hours, or overnight. (The cream can be packed airtight and frozen for up to 2 months; thaw overnight in the refrigerator.)

To Make the Meringue:
1. Preheat the broiler.
2. Whisk the cream to loosen it and spoon it into the pie shell. Place the pie plate on a baking sheet.

3. Working in a clean dry mixer bowl with the clean whisk attachment, or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, whip the egg whites at medium speed until opaque. With the mixer running, add the sugar in a slow stream and continue to beat until the whites are glossy and form firm peaks.

4. Spread the meringue over the lemon filling, swirling it if you'd like. Make sure the meringue comes all the way to the edges of the crust, because it will shrink when it bakes.
5. Run the pie under the broiler until the meringue is golden and the tips are dark brown. (Or, if you've got a blowtorch, use it to brown the meringue.) Remove the pie from the oven and let it cool for about 15 minutes, then refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.

**I used my creme brulee torch, and it worked great! You can use any pie crust recipe also--I used a regular pie crust, but I think this pie would be really good with a graham cracker crust! Look for the graham cracker recipe on my cheesecake post! Or please, leave me a comment if you need a good crust recipe!**

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