Lemon Meringue Pie
As soon as the filling is made, cover it with plastic wrap to keep it hot and then start working on the topping. You want to add hot filling to the pie shell, apply the meringue topping, and then quickly get the pie into the oven.
- LEMON FILLING:
- 1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
- 1/4 cup (1 ounce) cornstarch
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups cold water
- 6 large egg yolks, beaten
- 1 tablespoon grated zest and 1/2 cup juice from 2 or 3 lemons
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) sugar
- 4 large egg whites (room temperature)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 premade graham cracker pie crust
1. FOR THE FILLING: Mix the sugar, cornstarch, salt, and water in a large nonreactive saucepan. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally at the beginning of the process and more frequently as the mixture begins to thicken. When the mixture starts to simmer and turns translucent, whisk in the egg yolks very slowly to prevent it from cooking. Whisk in the zest, then the lemon juice, and finally the butter. Bring the mixture to a good simmer, whisking constantly. Remove from the heat; place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the filling to keep it hot and prevent a skin from forming.
2. FOR THE MERINGUE: Mix the cornstarch with the water in a small saucepan; bring to a simmer, whisking occasionally at the beginning and more frequently as the mixture thickens. When the mixture starts to simmer and turns translucent, remove from the heat.
3. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Remove the top rack so that pie can be easily removed after. Mix the cream of tartar and sugar together. Beat the egg whites and vanilla until frothy. Beat in the sugar mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the sugar is incorporated and the mixture forms soft peaks. Add the cornstarch mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time; continue to beat the meringue to stiff peaks. Remove the plastic from the lemon filling and return to very low heat during the last minute or so of beating the meringue (to ensure the filling is hot).
4. Pour the hot filling into the pie shell. Using a rubber spatula, immediately distribute the meringue evenly around the edge and then the center of the pie to keep it from sinking into the filling. Make sure the meringue attaches to the piecrust to prevent shrinking. Use the back of a spoon to create peaks all over the meringue. Bake the pie until the meringue is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Serve the same day.
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