I think I’ve gone to lemon heaven! About a week ago while at work, I was flipping through The Bee’s Food & Wine section, when suddenly I saw the most incredible photo of a lemon meringue pie! I rushed into my friend’s office and asked if he had seen the full-page article, recipe, and most of all the most beautiful mouth-watering image of a delicious and fluffy pie I had ever seen. I quickly announced that I had to make this pie, and then to my surprise my friend said he would bring me some lemons from his tree for me to use! From then, I was on a lemon mission!
Well, if you know me at all, you’ll know that I am not really into pies. I don’t really like to make them, or for that matter eat them, but I do have a thing about lemons and have always loved lemon meringue pie ever since I was a little girl! So, even though this recipe was a stretch from what I normally bake since it was a pie, I was defiantly ready to give it a try. For the most part I think the reason that I am not so keen on making pies is that I’m not into making the pastry crust. Thus, I opted to make my own version of this pie with a graham cracker crust (my favorite) and also decided to turn the recipe into many mini pies, so with one bite you would get perfection – well at least that’s how I saw it in my mind!
Lemon Meringue Mini Pies with Graham Cracker Crust
(Recipe adapted from The Sacramento Bee via here)
For the cornstarch paste:
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/3 cup water
For the crust:
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
½ cup butter, melted
¼ cup granulated sugar
For the filling:
2 to 3 tablespoons grated lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
1/2 cup lemon juice (squeezed from 2 to 3 lemons)
4 egg yolks
1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
For the meringue:
4 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
First, read through the entire recipe. Then gather your ingredients and necessary bowls and muffin pans. As a note, I used two 12 cup mini muffin pans and one 6 cup medium muffin pan . Being organized will really help you to make these pies with ease.
Using your smallest pot or saucepan, combine the cornstarch and water. Stirring briskly, bring to a boil until just translucent – this will happen quickly, do not overcook. Scrape paste into a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside.
For the crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare mini muffin pans with cooking spray, and prepare medium muffin pan with foil wrappers. In a large bowl, mix graham crumbs, butter and sugar. The mixture will be crumbly. Spoon the mixture into each cavity of your muffin pans, pressing down with the back of a spoon. Bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until the all the mini crusts are light golden brown. Place on wire rack to cool.
For the filling: In a small bowl grate the zest from two lemons to measure about 2-3 teaspoons. In a separate small bowl squeeze the lemons to make ½ cup of juice. Separate the eggs, placing yolks in another small bowl and the whites in the bowl of a mixer.
In a medium saucepan, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, salt and water. Over medium heat, and stirring constantly, heat mixture until very thick, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat.
Whisk lemon juice into the egg yolks. Carefully add a spoonful of the hot filling to the yolks, immediately whisking to combine. Repeat with 2 more spoonfuls. Then, whisking constantly, slowly pour the egg yolk mixture back into the filling. Return to medium heat and cook until very thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in butter and lemon zest. Set aside.
For the meringue: Mix egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until very frothy, about a minute. Slowly begin adding the sugar, a spoonful at a time. It should take you about 2 minutes to add all the sugar. Increase speed and continue beating until whites hold stiff peaks. Reduce speed to low. Add vanilla, and the cornstarch paste, 1 tablespoon at a time. Return to medium speed for about 30 seconds.
Spoon the filling into the mini pie shells filling to the top. Then by spoonfuls, top each pie with the meringue. After all the meringue is divided amongst the pies, create a few curls on top by running the back of an offset spatula with a swooping upward motion against the meringue. Do not overwork the meringue.
Bake pies for 15 to 20 minutes, or until meringue is light brown. Let cool completely on wire rack, then refrigerate. Note, this recipe made 24 mini pies and 6 medium pies.
Again, not being an experienced pie maker and this being my first attempt at making a lemon meringue pie let me tell you, it was incredible. My husband raved about it and specifically told me, “You cannot take this to the office, it’s way too good.” Sorry honey, as you know, I had to take some of these tasty morsels to share with my friends at work, especially Steve who brought me the fresh and juicy lemons. So if you’re up for making a wonderful lemon meringue recipe and have the patience and time it takes to prepare, it’s absolutely worth its weight in gold (or bright yellow for that matter!).