My daughter and I couldn’t wait to make lemon meringue pie for my brother’s family visit last weekend. Her Uncle Mark loves all things lemon, and this spring-time favorite is one of the best ways to enjoy such a bright and delicious flavor.
There’s nothing as delightful as a giant heap of fluffy, torched vanilla meringue on top of the from-scratch lemon curd/pie filling. I’ll show you my easy way to make this topping.
The highlight is my recipe to make the lemon pie filling – a citrus-based custard, also referred to as “curd.” This treat is wonderful for many other desserts too, such as spreads for scones, filling for cupcakes and cakes, for the main portion of lemon bars, etc. I also used this recipe as a topping in my recipe posted for gluten-free lemon and poppy seed cakes.
Mili’s Sweets Lemon Curd (Lemon Pie Filling) Recipe*
Here’s what you’ll need:
1/2 cup of salted butter (two sticks), softened
1 cup sugar
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon salt
zest of two large lemons
1/3 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
* Switch up your dessert with other citrus fruits. You can substitute the lemon for either oranges or limes, to make orange curd/pie filling or lime curd/pie filling.
Tools: saucepan, handheld whisk, grater, standing mixer with paddle attachment
Here’s what you’ll do:
NOTES: Before we get started, there are a few things to consider before preparing this recipe. A) AMOUNT NEEDED: To fill a pie, you’ll need to double the ingredients in the curd recipe above. If you’re not making a pie, and just want the curd, you can skip past the section for how to prepare the pie crust. B) TIME: Make sure you plan for plenty of time before the pie is served, since the curd/pie filling will need to set in the refrigerator, for at least three hours. C) DECIDE ON TEXTURE: If you love lemon skin, you’ll like a larger grate for the zest. If the texture of the larger lemon pieces doesn’t suit your tastes, use a fine grater tool, to produce a smaller lemon zest. The fineness of the grater will only effect the texture, not the flavor.
If you are making a lemon meringue pie, you’ll need to first prepare the crust and allow it to cool, before you prepare the filling. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
My daughter did most all of the work for this dessert so we went beginner-level and used a roll-out crust. She made a fork design around the edge and used the extra egg whites from the curd recipe, to brush on an egg wash over the dough. Finally, she placed ceramic pie weights to the bottom of the crust, so that it would bake without mis-shaping or rising from the bottom. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool completely and remove the pie weights before preparing the curd/pie filling.
Now to prepare the curd/pie filling: In a standing mixer, with a paddle attachment or scraping paddle attachment, on medium-speed, cream the softened butter until it completely covers the bottom of the mixing bowl.
Next, mix in all of the lemon zest. Add the sugar and salt. Mix until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, until all are incorporated. Mix in the juice last.
Pour the mixture into a saucepan at medium heat. Use a whisk to constantly stir the ingredients. Use a timer to keep your time of 10 minutes. In 6-7 minutes, you’ll notice that it will start to bubble. It will also be turning a more golden-yellow color. At that point, lower the heat to medium-low and continue whisking. By the end of the 10 minutes your arm might be a little sore but it will be worth it. Once the 10 minutes are up, remove the pan from heat.
If you are making a pie, pour the mixture directly into the prepared pie crust. Seal the top with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least three hours. If you are not using the curd for a pie, pour it into a bowl, use plastic wrap to seal, and refrigerate.
Once the filling has cooled and set, it’s time to prepare the lusciously-fluffy, light-and-dreamy vanilla meringue! (I can’t find enough adjectives to express how much I love it!)
Mili’s Sweets Vanilla Meringue Recipe
Here’s what you’ll need:
3 egg whites
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cream of tatar
Here’s what you’ll do:
NOTE: For the amount of meringue used to cover the pie I made in this post, double the ingredients in my vanilla meringue recipe above.
Put all ingredients into the bowl of your standing mixer. With the whisk attachment in your hand, combine all of the ingredients. Then attach the bowl and whisk attachment. Whisk on the highest speed, until the meringue comes out fluffy, and it sticks to the top of your whisk. This will take about 5 minutes.
I love the perfect-imperfection of a large mound of meringue on top of the pie. It’s beautiful and allows for the torch to make a nice contrast. Of course, you can always pipe the meringue, using a bag and star-tip, if you want it to look cleaner or of you have a specific design in mind.
To recreate the topping in the style I’ve shown, simply plop all of the meringue onto the middle of the pie. Use a spatula to press and move the meringue into place. Once the filling is covered and you’re ready to serve the pie, you can torch it.
There was a time, long ago, when I was afraid of my kitchen torch. After a little practice and a lot of passion for the end result, I find that it’s actually fun to and easy use.
I hope you enjoy this springtime treat. If you do make my recipe(s), please let me know how it goes!
(This torching photo was taken by my daughter while I worked with it. Kids can do most anything to help and even cook on their own in the kitchen, but I will never recommend that a child have a kitchen torch in their hand. This is a serious and dangerous piece of equipment.)