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Lemon Meringue Pie
Another terrific recipe I picked up from Simon Stevenson's pie baking class. I couldn't believe that the best lemon meringue pie I'd ever eaten I had baked myself. This recipe yields 2 9" pies.
Prepare the pre-baked pie shells and allow them to cool.
To Make the Filling
Place the cornstarch in a bowl large enough to hold all filling ingredients and add only enough water to make a lump-free slurry. Add the eggs to the slurry and beat until well combined. Set aside.
Combine the remaining water, sugar, salt and lemon zest in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove the hot sugar water from the heat and allow it to cool for just few seconds then add to the egg and cornstarch mixture (never the other way around or the eggs will scramble!)
Pour all back into saucepan and bring to a second boil and allow to thicken while whisking constantly (see note below). Once the mixture has come to a boil continue to whisk vigorously for 2 more minutes. The two minutes of boiling and whisking is required to completely break down the cornstarch, removing its flavor and grittiness.
Note: The constant whisking at this stage is absolutely necessary. If you think you are whisking hard enough - whisk harder. The danger here is that the eggs will scramble. You'll know if they do because you'll begin to see yellow flecks appear in the filling - these are pieces of egg that has scrambled. Unless it is excessive the flavor of the pie will not be compromised but you'll be able to see the flecks in the final product.
Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the lemon juice and butter, mixing until butter is completely melted. Pour into the pie shells and set aside to cool while making the meringue.
To Make the Meringue
Place the egg whites and sugar into the bowl of a double boiler. Heat the water in the double boiler while whisking the egg and sugar mixture constantly. Using an instant read thermometer monitor the mixture and remove from double boiler when the temperature reaches 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Put the mixture into a mixer bowl and whip at high speed until stiff peaks form.
Put the meringue into a decorating bag and pipe it onto the filling. Once done you may optionally bake the pies until the meringue peaks become browned.
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