- 4 large egg whites
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- Pinch of salt
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
LEMON FILLING AND WHIPPED CREAM:
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
- 6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small chunks
- 2 cups heavy cream (divided)
- 1 or 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Makes 1 Standard 9-Inch Pie
FOR THE MERINGUE CRUST:
1. Heat the oven to 275 degrees f. Generously butter a standard 9-inch pie pan, and set aside.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg whites at medium speed until they are bubbly and foamy, about 2 minutes. (you can use a hand-held mixer and a large mixing bowl.) Add the cream of tartar and salt.
3. Beat on high speed until the egg whites begin to swell up and hold their shape, stopping occasionally to scrape the bowl and beat everything evenly. Add the sugar gradually, and then continue beating the egg whites, until they are thick, light, and shiny, and hold firm, curled peaks.
4. Scoop the beaten egg whites out into the pie plate and use the back of a large spoon or a spatula to spread them out and shape them into a piecrust with a flat base and high sides, extending a little above the sides of the pie pan.
5. Place the pan in the middle of the 275 degrees f oven. Bake for 10 minutes. Lower the temperature to 250 degrees, and bake until the meringue crust is lightly browned, firm, and dry to the touch, 45 to 50 minutes more.
6. Place the pie pan on a cooling rack or a folded kitchen towel and let cool to room temperature.
FOR THE LEMON CREAM FILLING AND WHIPPED CREAM:
1. First, make lemon curd, which is the basis of the lemon cream filling. Bring about 3 inches of water to a lively simmer in the bottom of a double boiler, or in a saucepan that will accommodate a medium heat-proof mixing bowl so that it sits snugly above the water.
2. Meanwhile, combine the eggs, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest in the top of the double boiler or in a large, heat-proof bowl. Whisk or stir with a fork to mix everything together very well.
3. Place the bowl containing the egg-and-lemon mixture over the simmering water. Begin whisking and stirring often and well, until the mixture thickens over the heat into a luxurious, bright yellow sauce, with a texture like lightly whipped cream. This will take 8 to 10 minutes.
4. Remove the bowl from the heat. Stir in the butter, a few chunks at a time, whisking to melt the chunks into the lemon curd before adding the next little batch.
5. Set aside to cool to room temperature. If you are in a hurry, place the bowl inside a larger bowl which has a few inches of ice water in it, and stir the lemon mixture to cool it quickly. Or transfer the hot lemon mixture to another mixing bowl and place in the refrigerator for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, to help it cool quickly.
6. While the lemon curd cools, prepare the whipped cream. Place the heavy cream in the bowl of a stand mixer (or a bowl and a hand-held mixer), and beat at medium high speed until the cream thickens up and begins to hold its shape.
7. Increase speed to high and add the granulated sugar. Beat, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides and whip the cream evenly, until the cream holds very firm peaks but is still soft and not dry or stiff.
8. Measure out half the whipped cream, about 1 1/4 cups, and add it to the bowl of cooled lemon curd. Use a whisk or a large spoon to combine them evenly and well, into a light, smooth, creamy yellow filling.
9. Scrape the lemon filling into the meringue pie shell, and smooth it out to fill it evenly. Pile the remaining whipped cream on top of the lemon filling, but don’t cover it completely; let that sunny lemon-yellow color shine through! If you have more cream than you need, reserve for another dessert.
10. Serve, or cover and chill for up to 1 day.