You know that rule about how you're supposed to make things that you've made before when planning a dinner for guests? Yeah, I routinely break it. Last year for Easter, this meant a trifle that tasted way too much like chemicals. This year, I left it up to Cook's Country. Joe had suggested a lemon meringue pie, gesturing with his hands just how tall he wanted the meringue to be. I had never made meringue. Or lemon curd. But that didn't stop me.
Like everything in the America's Test Kitchen vein, this lemon meringue pie tastes like a lemon meringue pie should. Lots of lemon juice gives it a great, puckery lemon flavor, and the meringue is silky and light. I don't have a stand mixer, so I just used a hand-held, which took slightly longer than the times indicated in the recipe.
Mile-High Lemon Meringue Pie
source: Cook's Country
1 (9-inch) pie shell. fully baked and cooled
FOR THE LEMON FILLING:
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup of lemon juice (from 6 lemons)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
8 large egg yolks (reserve 4 whites for meringue later)
2 tbsp. grated lemon zest
3 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces
FOR THE MERINGUE:
1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
4 egg whites
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
TO MAKE THE FILLING:
Whisk sugar, lemon juice, water, cornstarch and salt together in a large non-reactive saucepan until cornstarch is dissolved. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally until mixture is translucent and begins to thicken, about 5 minutes.
Whisk in yolks until combined. Stir in zest and butter. Bring to a simmer and stir constantly until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 2 minutes.
Strain through fine mesh strainer into the baked and cooled pie shell and scrape off filling from the bottom of strainer. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the filling and refrigerate until set and well chilled, at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.
WHEN READY TO MAKE THE MERINGUE:
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees F.
Combine water and sugar in saucepan. Bring to a vigorous boil over medium high heat. Once syrup comes to a rolling boil, cook for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside while beating egg whites.
With electric mixer beat whites in large bowl at medium low speed until frothy, about 1 minute. Add salt and cream of tartar and beat gradually increasing speed to medium high, until whites hold soft peaks, about 2 minutes. With mixer running, slowly pour hot syrup into the whites. Add vanilla and beat until meringue has cooled and becomes shiny and thick, 5-9 minutes.
Using a rubber spatula, mound meringue over filling making sure meringue touches the edges of the crust. Use spatula to create peaks all over the pie.
Bake until peaks turn golden brown about 6 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature and serve.