Last week was a tough one for our family. My larger-than-life, fiercely-loving, 95-year-old grandma passed away. She'd been declining for a number of years so while it's sad that she's no longer with us, it's a blessing that she's no longer suffering either. Now, there was nothing wishy-washy about Grammie. She loved what she loved and had no use at all for things she did not, like vanilla and cinnamon, two spices she strangely hated, so other than chocolate-based desserts, the things I made most for her were all lemon-based, which she LOVED! She was addicted to lemonade, would always opt for a lemon-filled doughnut if given the chance and loved a good slice of lemon meringue pie. So today, I'm sharing this Reverse Lemon Meringue Pie in her honor!
Normally lemon meringue pie consists of an ordinary pie crust, a lemon curd filling and a meringue topping. This pie is sort of upside down, as the meringue now appears as the crust instead. It's easy to make and gives the pie a rustic, sort of exotic look, I think. All you do is beat up egg whites with sugar and cream of tartar, arrange spoonfuls of it into a pie plate and bake it until the meringue is firm and golden brown.
Meanwhile, you make a rather tart, lip-puckering lemon curd filling--it's hard to resist swiping little tastes of this as you're whisking away!
Then it's just a matter of whipping heavy cream and assembling the whole shebang. You start by spreading half of the whipped cream on top of the cooled meringue crust--
Then you spread the lemon curd on top of that--
Next, you top with the rest of the whipped cream and arrange a couple of lemon slices on top.
There's no way to cut this and make it look perfect and neat--no matter what, it sort of falls apart, so don't make this for a fancy party but do treat your family and friends to it as the perfect capper to a casual summer meal. It's heavenly!
Each bite is full of so many good textures and tastes--the meringue is sweet, crunchy and melts in your mouth, the lemon filling is tart and a perfect balance for the sweetness of the meringue and the whipped cream rounds everything out with its smooth, velvety texture. Grammie, I hope you're somewhere with people you love and getting to eat all the yummy foods you want! You will be missed!
Reverse Lemon Meringue Pie
Makes about 8-10 servings
Prep Time: 40 minutes; Bake Time: 1 hour; Chill Time: At least 8 hours and preferably overnight
For the Meringue Crust
- 4 egg whites, from large eggs
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 3/4 cup sugar
- Butter for greasing pie plate
For the Filling & Topping
- 5 egg yolks
- 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup sugar plus 3 tablespoons, divided
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Finely grated rind of 1 large lemon
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, cold
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Lemon slices for garnish
1. Preheat oven to 275ºF.
2. To make the crust: Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer on high until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and beat on high until the whites are stiff. Add the sugar and beat again, until sugar is dissolved. Test mixture between two fingers. If it feels grainy, beat some more.
3. Butter a 9 inch pie pan and spoon meringue into it, shaping it into a crust. Make sure to bring the sides up high so that you'll have a well in the center for all the filling--the meringue won't change shape as you bake it. Bake for 1 hour or until the meringue is firm and golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool completely.
4. To make the lemon curd filling: In the bowl of a double boiler over boiling water, place the egg yolks, lemon juice, 1/4 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons of butter. Stir the mixture constantly until it becomes thick and custard-like. Mix in the lemon rind and remove from the heat.
5. Whip the heavy cream using an electric mixer until it holds soft peaks. Then add the vanilla extract and the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar and beat till stiff. Spread half the cream onto the cooled meringue shell. Spoon the lemon filling on top and spread out. Spoon the rest of the cream on top of the lemon filling and spread out evenly. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours. Garnish with lemon slices if you like.
6. Don't worry about cutting this pie neatly. It falls apart, but tastes amazing. Just have plenty of napkins on hand!!
Note: Recipe adapted from Kathleen's Bake Shop Cookbook by Kathleen King.