Jen Causey
Active Time
1 HR
Total Time
2 HR 30 MIN
Yield
Serves : 8

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.

How to Make It

Step 1    

Make the crust: Preheat oven to 400°F. Place almonds in a food processor; pulse until finely chopped, about 6 times. Add flour, powdered sugar, and salt; pulse twice to combine. Add butter; pulse until small, moist clumps form, about 13 to 16 times (dough will be crumbly but it will hold together when pressed between fingers; you don’t want the dough to form a ball, but you also don’t want lots of dry flour).

Step 2    

Transfer dough to a 9-inch pie pan lightly coated with cooking spray. Pat dough into bottom and up sides of pie pan; pierce bottom of dough with a fork. Place in freezer for 10 minutes. Remove dough from freezer; line with parchment paper and pie weights or dried beans. Bake at 400°F until lightly browned, 15 to 18 minutes. Carefully remove parchment paper and pie weights. Bake until evenly browned, about 5 minutes. Place on a wire rack to let cool.

Step 3    

Make the filling: Whisk together granulated sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a large, heavy

saucepan. Whisk in 1 1/3 cups water and lemon juice. Cook over medium, stirring almost constantly, until bubbly and thick, about 6 minutes. Place egg yolks in a medium bowl.

Add about one-fourth of hot lemon juice mixture to egg yolks, whisking constantly.

Gradually add remaining hot lemon juice mixture, whisking constantly. Pour mixture back into

pan; cook over medium, whisking constantly, until bubbly, about 2 minutes. Remove

from heat. Stir in lemon zest. Add butter; stir until butter melts. Place saucepan into an

ice bath in a large bowl. Let cool to room temperature (or cooler), whisking occasionally, about 8 minutes. Spoon mixture into cooled crust. Loosely cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until set, about 1 hour.

Step 4    

Make the meringue: Place egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add cream of tartar, vanilla, and salt. Beat on medium speed just until soft peaks form.

Step
Step 5    

Combine granulated sugar and 1/4 cup water in a small, heavy saucepan; stir just to moisten sugar. Bring to a boil; cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer registers 250°F, about 6 minutes. With stand mixer running on medium-low speed, slowly pour hot sugar syrup down side of bowl into egg white mixture. Increase speed to medium, and gradually increase up to high. Beat until stiff peaks form. Spoon meringue over pie. Lightly brown meringue under a broiler or with a kitchen torch, if desired.

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