Lemon meringue pie has always been my favorite dessert. (Fun fact: Lemon Pie was my CB handle when I was a kid. If you don’t know what that means, it’s likely because you’re much younger than me, and this clue still won’t help you: Breaker 1-9, this is Lemon Pie. I’ve got a Smokey on my tail.)
I like lemon pie
so much that I want even more of the bright, sunny lemon flavor to come through, so there’s less sugar and more lemon juice in this filling than you’ll find in most recipes. It’s assertively—but not aggressively—lemony, and is balanced by the fluffy meringue topping, which has the perfect sweetness and density to complement the tarter-than-usual filling.
This topping is the type of meringue I love, the type that makes my mouth water and sets my heart aflutter. It is Italian meringue. It’s thicker, creamier, and heavier on the palate than the type of airy, ephemeral meringues you might see on diner-style pies—you know, the type that deflates almost immediately on the tongue. Italian meringue, by contrast, has weight and body to it that’s reminiscent of homemade marshmallows, and it’s incredibly stable, which is why it’s often used as a cake frosting, too. You don’t have to bake it—because in making it, you beat molten hot sugar syrup into the whites (easier than it sounds), which heats them to a safe temperature. I like to add a little vanilla extract to my Italian meringue, which somehow makes it seem even creamier.
And oh, the crust! In place of traditional pie pastry
(which would still be delicious here), I go with a pat-in shortbread crust that somehow both holds together and is wonderfully crumbly in that shortbread kind of way. But what makes it truly special is that there are little bits of salty, crunchy Marcona almonds in it.
The topping, the filling, and the crust all work together in beautiful harmony, and I wanted to engineer the recipe so that you can enjoy that deliciousness faster than usual. The crust, which is made in a food processor and requires no rolling, comes together lickety-split. The filling, which I chill in an ice bath before it goes into the crust, sets in lightning speed. And the meringue, which does not need to bake, is ready to enjoy as soon as it’s whipped up—because when you want lemon pie, you want it now.