Cream Cheese Crust:
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. baking powder
- 1 TBSP powdered sugar
- 6 TBSP cold butter
- 4 TBSP cold cream cheese
- 1/2 tsp. cider vinegar
- 2 TBSP heavy cream
- 1 cup sugar
- Zest of 5 lemons
- 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 4 eggs
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
- 6 egg whites, room temperature
- 1 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
- generous pinch salt
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Make Crust: Combine flour, salt, baking powder and powdered sugar in food processor. Cut butter and cream cheese into tablespoon-size pieces and add to flour. Pulse food processor until butter and cream cheese are incorporated but the mixture is still dry.
Transfer to a medium bowl. Stir in vinegar and heavy cream with a fork. Turn out onto work surface and smear the dough with the heel of your hand until the dough sticks together and you can form it into a ball.
Roll out between pieces of wax paper until it is large enough to line a 9″ pie plate. Line pie plate with dough, crimp, and poke holes in the bottom with a fork. Cover with wax paper and freeze for at least an hour or overnight.
Preheat oven to 425°F. Line frozen crust with parchment paper. Fill with pie weights, and bake for 15 minutes. Remove pie weights and parchment and bake for an additional 15 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool completely.
Make Filling: In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, stir together sugar and lemon zest. Whisk in eggs. Whisk in lemon juice. Place over medium heat and whisk constantly until the mixture thickens – don’t neglect the edges of the pan. Continue cooking until one bubble pops at the surface, then immediately remove from heat and strain the mixture into a blender, discarding lemon zest and any bits of scrambled egg.
Let the mixture rest in the blender for 5 minutes. Cut the butter into tablespoons. Turn the blender on high and add the butter, one tablespoon at a time. After all the butter has been added scrape down the blender and continue to blend for another minute until the mixture is smooth and thick. Refrigerate until completely cool, at least 4 hours.
Whisk together lemon filling to loosen. Fill baked and cooled pie shell with the cooled lemon filling. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the lemon filling and refrigerate until ready to serve. Make meringue and top pie as close to serving as you can manage.
Make Meringue: Fill a medium saucepan that will fit your mixer bowl in it without touching the bottom with a couple inches of water and bring to a simmer.
Whisk together egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar and salt in the bowl of your stand mixer. Fit your stand mixer with the whisk attachment.
Nest the mixer bowl over the simmering water and whisk the egg white and sugar mixture until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is hot to touch (test with your finger for temperature and for sugar granules) – about 5 minutes.
Transfer to stand mixer and mix on low until frothy. Increase speed to high and whip until light, cool and marshmallowy – about 7 minutes. Mix in vanilla extract. Immediately pipe or spread meringue on the chilled pie.
Preheat oven to 500°F.
Bake pie for 5 minutes, watching closely, to brown the meringue. Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve.