Sunday, January 7, 2024

Lemon Meringue Pie

I don't know why I hadn't made lemon meringue pie in decades, because it's such a delicious and light dessert -- a perfect counterpoint to all the rich, creamy holiday foods we ate (rich scalloped potatoes, filet mignon, semifreddo, etc.) I was inspired to make it during the Christmas holidays while pondering how to  use some of the lemons ripening on my indoor lemon tree. This year, it was laden with ten beautiful lemons.

 Although I picked three, they were so juicy, I needed only two of them,
For the pastry, I followed a recipe from Lillipies, a shop in town that makes fabulous mini pies of all kinds. I had recently been to a lecture by its owner, Jennifer Colello Carson, where she explained how she makes her pie crusts. Her cookbook, "Lillipies" is chockfull of recipes from pies to panzanella.
 She also has a recipe for lemon meringue pie, but it calls for more lemons than I was willing to part with, so I used a recipe from Betty Crocker for the filling, one that calls for only 1/2 cup of lemon juice. It was plenty tart enough.

I did add one more egg white than called for in the recipe, since I wanted the meringue to be piled high above the lemon filling.

Another reason I liked the Betty Crocker recipe is that the meringue was baked in the oven for about 20 minutes, as opposed to just torching or broiling the meringue, as called for in many other recipes.

The pie was a smashing hit with my daughter and her husband, who loves tangy citrus desserts, like this pie. I may have to make it again this week to take to my dad, whose favorite dessert is lemon meringue pie. I've still got plenty of lemons left on my little lemon tree and will be posting more lemon-centric recipes in coming posts.

Check out Ciao Chow Linda on Instagram here to find out what’s cooking in my kitchen each day (and more).

Lemon Meringue Pie


recipe from Jen Colello Carson of Princeton, N.J.'s "Lillipies"

For a two-crust pie (cut in half for this lemon meringue pie)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter, cubed and cold
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
4-6 Tablespoons ice cold water


(from Betty Crocker website)

  • 3egg yolks
  • 1 1/2cups sugar
  • 1/3cup plus 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 1/2cups water
  • 3tablespoons butter
  • 2teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1/2cup lemon juice


  • 4egg whites, room temperature
  • 1/4teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 6tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2teaspoon vanilla

For pastry:
In a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar, salt and butter, or use a pastry cutter.
When the butter pieces are the size of small peas, add 4 tablespoons ice cold water. Pulse until combined. Add only enough water need to hold the dough together. Add more water only if the dough needs it. The amount of water needed can depend on the weather, the time of year you are baking, how your flour was stored, etc. Adding too much water will yield a sticky dough (and a tough crust later). Adding too little water will cause the dough to fall apart as you are rolling.
Shape the dough into 2 disks for a 9" double-crusted pie. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Roll out one pie dough to 1/8 thickness. Place into pie tin. Crimp edges. Chill for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Fully "blind-bake" the crust, lining the chilled pie shell with parchment or aluminum foil, and filling with pie weights or uncooked rice and/or beans. Bake for 15 minutes in lower third of oven. Then remove the parchment and pie weights and return to bake another 15 minutes.
Pour the prepared lemon filling into the pie shell.

For the filling:
Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees
In small bowl, beat egg yolks with fork. In 2-quart saucepan, mix 1 1/2 cups sugar and the cornstarch; gradually stir in 1 1/2 cups water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir 1 minute.
Immediately stir with whisk at least half of hot mixture into egg yolks; stir back into hot mixture in saucepan. Return to boiling; boil and stir constantly 2 minutes; remove from heat. Stir in butter, lemon zest and lemon juice with whisk. Cover and keep warm.
In medium bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar with electric mixer on high speed until foamy. Beat in sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time; scrape side of bowl occasionally. Continue beating until stiff, glossy peaks form and sugar is completely dissolved. Beat in vanilla. Pour hot lemon filling into baked pie shell. Immediately drop spoonfuls of meringue onto hot lemon filling, and carefully spread meringue to cover top completely, spreading to edge of crust to prevent shrinkage or weeping.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until meringue is browned and temperature reaches 160°F. Cool on cooling rack 1 hour. Refrigerate about 4 hours or until filling is set. Store loosely covered in refrigerator.


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