Dreamy Lemon Meringue Pie

Fussy, Pie
I’ve always loved Lemon Meringue pie, but often been disappointed by the dry meringue and gelatinous lemon filling. Here is the lemon meringue pie I have been dreaming about – a creamy tart lemon filling (closer in texture to Key Lime pie) and marshmallowy Swiss meringue on top.

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
  • 2 ounces cold cream cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. cider vinegar
  • 2 TBSP heavy cream

Lemon Filling:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • Zest of 5 lemons
  • 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature

Swiss Meringue:

  • 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.

Mint Chip Marshmallows

Candy, Fussy

  • 1 1/2 cups cold water, divided
  • 32g gelatin
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Scant 1 tsp peppermint extract
  • Green food coloring
  • 1 cup chocolate paillettes, or mini chocolate chips
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup cornstarch or potato starch for coating

Special equipment:
candy thermometer
stand mixer with whisk attachment


Line a 13×9-inch pan with foil or parchment, letting some overhang to make lifting the marshmallow out easier. Coat lightly with non-stick spray or butter.


Pour 3/4 cup cold water into bowl of stand-mixer. Sprinkle gelatin over water and let stand. Put on the stand mixer with the whisk attachment so it’s ready to go.


Combine 3 cups sugar, corn syrup, salt, and remaining 3/4 cup cold water in heavy medium saucepan (with a handle preferably). Over medium-low heat, stir super gently with a heatproof spatula, or swirl the pan ever so slightly, just for the first couple minutes to dissolve the sugar, being careful not to let any sugar granules stick to the sides of the pan (if they do, wash them down with a wet pastry brush).

Once sugar had dissolved, attach a candy thermometer and never stir it again until it reaches 240º, about 8 minutes. It will boil up the pan quite a bit as it gets going- just keep an eye on it so it doesn’t boil over, adjusting the heat accordingly.


With the mixer running on low speed, slowly pour the hot syrup into the gelatin in a thin stream, running down the side of the bowl so the whisk doesn’t splash it all over. Don’t worry about the syrup that sticks to the bowl.

Increase the mixer speed to high and beat until very stiff and cooled to lukewarm – it should take 10-15 minutes.

Add peppermint and beat to blend, about 30 seconds. Sprinkle in 1/2 cup of the chocolate paillettes or mini chips and JUST mix in.


Spread the marshmallow into the greased pan and smooth the top as best you can. Sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup paillettes or chips evenly on top. Let stand for at least 4 hours before cutting. Overnight is even better.


Sift starch and powdered sugar together and dust your work surface. Lift marshmallow out and cut into squares using a large sharp knife. Keep a pitcher of piping hot water and a dish towel nearby – dip the knife in the hot water and dry with the towel to make cutting easier. Roll in sugar/starch mixture until the sides are coated before stacking or packing.

Homebakers Collective August Challenge: Favorite Childhood Treat

Cookies, Fussy, Homebakers Collective Challenge

Fig Newtons

The Spencer house didn’t stock store-bought treats. At lunchtime I used to trade my mom’s homemade cookies for oatmeal creme pies. One time I asked for Pop-tarts for Christmas. But every so often Fig Newtons would appear and I thought it was a treat royale.


Fruit:

  • 1 cup (1/3 lb.) dried figs (Black Mission or Turkish will do fine)
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 TBSP honey
  • 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs

Cake:

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 TBSP honey
  • 1 1/3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Turbinado sugar and water

Put figs in a 1- or 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Pour boiling water over figs, cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes.

Prepare your work surface with a baking sheet and two pieces of parchment paper that are about 14″ long. Make sure your baking sheet can fit in your freezer. Cut a 1 1/2″-wide tip off the end of a pastry bag or ziplock bag that can fit your fig filling.

Combine butter and brown sugar in a mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Beat until light and fluffy. Add egg, honey and vanilla and beat to incorporate, scraping bowl and paddle when needed.

Stir together flour, salt and baking powder. Add to butter mixture and stir on low to combine. Increase speed to medium and beat for 30 seconds, until well incorporated.

Scrape dough onto a sheet of parchment paper about 14″ long. Sandwich with the second piece of parchment and roll out gently so your dough is 10″ wide by 14″ long. You can cut and paste the dough to fill in bare spots if needed. Slide the dough onto a baking sheet and put in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Pour the figs with their water, honey and graham cracker crumbs into the food processor. Process until smooth, stopping to scrape the bowl, and making sure there are no chunks. Scrape into prepared pastry bag or ziplock. Chill in the refrigerator until dough is ready (this can be done ahead of time).

After the dough has chilled, remove from freezer. Trim edges. Cut in half lengthwise so you have two 5″ by 14″ pieces. Separate the pieces- placing each on it’s own piece of parchment.

Pipe a 1 1/2″ thick line of fig filling down the center of each strip of dough. Carefully fold over one side of dough over the filling, then fold again- enveloping the filling in the center, with the seam on the bottom. Repeat with second piece of dough.

Use the parchment paper to lift the uncooked fig bars onto the baking sheet. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°.

After chilling, remove from freezer. Wet a pastry brush with water and moisten the tops of the bars. Sprinkle liberally with Turbinado sugar. Trim the ends of each log and slice each into 2″ bars. Place on lined baking sheet.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until light brown on the bottom.

Homebakers Collective June Challenge: Lamination

Breakfast, Fussy, Homebakers Collective Challenge

Apricot Cream Cheese Danish

This recipe was from Joanne Chang’s Pastry Love cookbook – I recommend it. She opened her first bakery, Flour, a block away from our Boston apartment and it was such a treat to walk across the park and get something tasty.

I substituted apricots for figs, but otherwise followed the recipe exactly (with one exception- I let the dough rest overnight, instead of the 3-hour maximum it suggested). These turned out deliciously sweet, tart and buttery. I do have danish pastry leftover in the freezer, waiting for me, which isn’t a bad thing.

Homebakers Collective April Challenge: Donuts!

Breakfast, Fussy, Homebakers Collective Challenge

Sourdough Donuts with Candied Sesame Seeds

These sourdough donuts from Baking Sense were outstanding. I iced them with a simple vanilla glaze and dipped them in the most fantastic candied sesame seeds. The end result tasted like a donut meeting a dim sum sesame ball.

Check out all the other fabulous donuts from the bakers on the Homebakers Collective: https://homebakerscollective.com/2020/04/30/donuts/

Sourdough Donuts: Mix the dough up the day before (it takes most of the day) , cut and let rise for about 2 hours the next morning before frying. Recipe in link below. I substituted 1/2 tsp nutmeg for the 1 tsp cardamom because I feel like donuts have to have nutmeg.

https://www.baking-sense.com/2017/10/05/sourdough-donuts/

Vanilla Glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 TBSP butter, softened
  • 2 TBSP milk

Beat together until smooth.

Candied Sesame Seeds:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup sesame seeds

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large skillet over medium high heat, combine water and sugar. When the sugar dissolves and it starts to boil, pour in sesame seeds. Stir with a heatproof spatula constantly for about 8 minutes, until the liquid evaporates and the sesame seeds are completely dry and crisp. They should just barely start to brown. Pour out onto parchment lined baking sheet, break up larger clumps of seeds and let cool.

Let donuts cool for a couple minutes before dipping in vanilla glaze, then immediately in cooled sesame seeds.

Eat all day long.