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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Decadent Lemon Orange Meringue Pie

I was inspired to make my first lemon meringue pie when my employer (I clean her house) was cleaning out her pantry and offered me a ready made pie crust. While I never buy these things myself, I won't usually turn down free food, especially if it's giving me a chance to experiment in the kitchen. You see, I never made pies, because they usually involve margarine or butter, and I usually need non dairy deserts and prefer to stay away from margarine.
But when a free graham cracker crust was sent my way, I decided to fill it, using only ingredients that I had in my house, and ventured into the world of meringue pies. I mentioned here why I had never before made lemon meringue pie, but am glad that I decided to try making this delicious desert.
Of course, I had the misfortune of serving this desert to some very blase guests we had (Blind setup. Very awkward evening for all) who made it seem like everyone knows how to make meringues, making me feel not-so-very accomplished, even after all my endeavors. But I know that it was definitely delicious; there was absolutely nothing left of it, much to my dismay when I opened the fridge, hoping to polish it off  for breakfast the next morning (ok, I know that wasn't so healthy), only to discover that my husband beat me to it.

This recipe has a meringue crust, and unfortunately, no exact measurements. Its totally gluten free and cream of tartar free. (I can never find cream of tartar where I live, and even if I did, in most likelihood, I wouldn't buy it, because I usually don't spend money on specialty ingredients which will be used once or twice and then migrate to the back of my pantry to get all gross and disgusting.)

Lemon Orange Meringue Pie
Ingredients:
Egg whites
Powdered sugar, caster sugar, or homemade powdered sugar
Salt

1. First, you'll need to make orange lemon curd. You'll be using the whites leftover for this meringue.
2. Take a few egg whites and put them in a clean, preferably metal bowl. (I used plastic, but mine was very clean. If you have any grease in the bowl, the whites won't get stiff, and your meringue will fail. Plastic is harder to get grease free. If you have any doubts, stick with metal bowls.)
How many egg whites is up to you. I think I used three. More is fine, you'll just have more meringue to pile on top of your pie.
3. Beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. You can either use an electric mixer, hand mixer, or whisk to do this. Knowing what you do about my trying to save electricity where I can, I'm sure you're not too surprised that I beat these eggs by hand with a whisk.


4. Add the powdery sugar of your choice to taste. No, I'm not telling you exact amounts, because, quite frankly, I have no idea how much I added. I added a bit, probably a quarter cup, and then when that wasn't enough, added a bit more. You'll have to taste it to determine how much sugar to add. (Yes, I did say to taste that raw egg white. It won't kill you, and it won't make you sick. You're more likely to get struck by lightening than to get food poisoning from your freshly beaten egg white.)
5. Add a pinch of salt.
6. Beat these some more until you have stiff peaks.
7. Use a small spatula to line a pie pan with some meringue. You want a thinnish coating on the bottom and on the sides. Make sure to leave plenty over.
8. Bake the meringue crust at 350 until it turns a golden brown (this should take less than 10 minutes. As you can see, I slightly overcooked it).


9. Fill the crust with your lemon orange curd.


10. Top the curd with the rest of the meringue. You can use a fork to make it have peaks, but there really is no need to do that.


11. Bake the pie at 400 until the tips of the meringue become golden brown.


Bon Apetite!
(Yes, it really does taste as good as it looks!)

Do you ever make meringues? Have you been successful?
I noticed all the recipes I found called for cream of tartar- what does that add to a recipe?

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