Saturday, October 3, 2015


Meringue pie can be tricky to prepare. Cook's Country figured out how to make a perfect lemon meringue pie with a sky-high topping that doesn't weep.

We wanted our Mile-High Lemon Meringue Pie recipe to produce a tall and fluffy topping, so we made the meringue with a hot sugar syrup, and added a bit of cream of tartar to the egg whites before we beat them. This ensured that the meringue was cooked through and stable enough to be piled high on top of the filling. For our Mile-High Lemon Meringue Pie’s bright citrus flavor, we flavored the filling with lemon zest and lemon juice, then strained the filling to remove the zest. If left in the filling, the zest would mar the texture of our recipe’s silky smooth filling.

If using a hand-held mixer, you will need a very large, deep bowl and should move the beaters vigorously in step 3 to avoid under beating the egg whites. This pie is best on the day it’s made.

Mile-High Lemon Meringue Pie
lemon filling:
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup lemon juice (from 6 lemons)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon table salt
8 large egg yolks (reserve 4 whites for meringue)
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened
1 9-inch pie shell, fully baked and cooled

1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
4 large egg whites (reserved from filling)
pinch table salt
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. For the filling: Whisk sugar, lemon juice, water, cornstarch, and salt together in large nonreactive saucepan until cornstarch is dissolved. Bring to simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until mixture becomes translucent and begins to thicken, about 5 minutes. Whisk in yolks until combined. Stir in zest and butter. Bring to simmer and stir constantly until mixture is thick enough to coat back of spoon, about 2 minutes. Strain through fine-mesh strainer into pie shell and scrape filling off underside of strainer. Place plastic wrap directly on surface of filling and refrigerate until set and well chilled, at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.
  2. For the meringue: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Combine water and sugar in small saucepan. Bring to vigorous boil over medium-high heat. Once syrup comes to rolling boil, cook 4 minutes (mixture will become slightly thickened and syrupy). Remove from heat and set aside while beating whites.
  3. 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 whites (avoid pouring syrup onto whisk or it will splash). Add vanilla and beat until meringue has cooled and becomes very thick and shiny, 5 to 9 minutes.
  4. Using rubber spatula, mound meringue over filling, making sure meringue touches edges of crust. Use spatula to create peaks all over meringue. Bake until peaks turn golden brown, about 6 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature. Serve.
For our meringue, you don’t need a thermometer, but you do need a timer.
  1. After the sugar syrup comes to a full boil, cook it for exactly 4 minutes.
  2. Beat the egg whites with the salt and cream of tartar until they hold soft peaks.
  3. With the mixer still running, carefully pour the hot sugar syrup directly into the beaten egg whites.
  4. Continue beating until the meringue has cooled to room temperature and is thick and fluffy.
These tricks guarantee meringue that looks as good as it tastes.
  1. Use a rubber spatula to press the meringue onto the edge of the pie crust. This will keep the meringue from shrinking.
  2. Use the spatula to make dramatic peaks and swirls all over the meringue.

Thursday, October 1, 2015


I was watching an episode of Cook's Country and was pleasantly surprised when they featured a pie I'd never heard of - Chocolate Angel Pie. Instead of a traditional pastry crust, the vintage recipe calls for a crisp meringue shell to hold the chocolate custard filling that is then generously topped with fluffy whipped cream. What I love about this recipe is not only is it kitchen-tested but you also get those often undisclosed but helpful tips that can make or break a great dessert. For instance, did you know that the trick to preventing baked meringue from sticking to your pie plate is to use a double dose of cornstarch - first in the egg whites and then as coating for the pie plate? Or that confectioner's sugar helps whipped cream to hold its  fluffy shape? I can tell you stories about the countless times I've tried a new recipe only to have it fail miserably. I can guarantee this recipe is full-proof. Happy baking!

Chocolate Angel Pie
9 ounces milk chocolate, chopped fine
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine
3 large egg yolks
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 1/4 cups heavy cream, chilled

meringue crust:
1 tablespoon cornstarch, plus extra for pie plate
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large egg whites
pinch cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/3 cups heavy cream, chilled
2 tablespoons confectioner's sugar
unsweetened cocoa powder

  1. FOR THE FILLING: Microwave milk chocolate and bittersweet chocolate in large bowl at 50 percent power, stirring occasionally, until melted, 2 to 4 minutes. Whisk egg yolks, sugar, and salt together in medium bowl until combined, about 1 minute. Bring half-and-half to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Whisking constantly, slowly add hot half-and-half to egg yolk mixture in 2 additions until incorporated. Return half-and-half mixture to now-empty saucepan and cook over low heat, whisking constantly, until thickened slightly, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Stir half-and-half mixture into melted chocolate until combined. Let cool slightly, about 8 minutes.
  2. Using stand mixer fitted with whisk, whip cream on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to high and whip until soft peaks form, 1 to 3 minutes. Gently whisk one-third of whipped cream into cooled chocolate mixture. Fold in remaining whipped cream until no white streaks remain. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or until ready to assemble pie. (Filling can be made up to 24 hours in advance.)
  3. FOR THE MERINGUE CRUST: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 275 degrees. Grease 9-inch pie plate and dust well with extra cornstarch, using pastry brush to distribute evenly. Combine sugar and 1 tablespoon cornstarch in bowl. Using stand mixer fitted with whisk, whip egg whites and cream of tartar on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium-high and whip whites to soft, billowy mounds, 1 to 3 minutes. Gradually add sugar mixture and whip until glossy, stiff peaks form, 3 to 5 minutes. Add vanilla to meringue and whip until incorporated.
  4. Spread meringue into prepared pie plate, following contours of plate to cover bottom, sides, and edges. Bake for 1½ hours. Rotate pie plate, reduce oven temperature to 200 degrees, and bake until completely dried out, about 1 hour longer. (Shell will rise above rim of pie plate; some cracking is OK.) Let cool completely, about 30 minutes.
  5. FOR THE TOPPING: Spoon cooled chocolate filling into cavity of pie shell, distributing evenly. Using stand mixer fitted with whisk, whip cream and sugar on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to high and whip until stiff peaks form, 1 to 3 minutes. Spread whipped cream evenly over chocolate. Refrigerate until filling is set, about 1 hour. Dust with cocoa. Slice with sharp knife and serve.
Don't make this mistake: Busted Crust
The egg white crust is part of what distinguishes angel pie. To avoid a sticky, broken meringue shell, we added cornstarch to the whites, and we greased the pie plate and dusted it with more cornstarch. We also figured out the ideal baking time and temperatures to ensure that the interior and exterior of the meringue cooked properly.