My Mom could make incredible meringue pies. She made lemon meringue pies, chocolate meringue and coconut custard meringue pies to die for. I learned very young how to make a meringue that stood firm and tall on any kind of pie and now I will share those tips with you at the end of this recipe. This one is a keeper my friends!
My Mom's Chocolate Meringue Pie
1 1/3 cups sifted all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter, chilled, cut in small cubes or slices
1/4 cup Shortening (I use Crisco)
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons ice water
3 cups milk
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup water
1 cup super fine sugar
4 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Crust: In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Cut in the butter, lard and zest until mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle the ice water and toss with a fork to blend. Gather the dough into a ball. If excess flour remains, add a few drops more ice water. Shape into a disk and wrap in plastic. Chill for 1 hour in refrigerator.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll out pastry into a 12 inch circle. Fit into a 9 inch pie pan and fold edge under. Then line the pastry shell with a sheet of foil and fill with dried beans or pie weights. Set pie pan on baking sheet and bake 10 minutes. Remove weights and foil and bake another 5 minutes until bottom firm and light golden, Cool on a rack. I usually brush my unbaked crust with an egg white and a little water before I put it in the oven to keep it from getting soggy.
Filling: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring 2-1/2 cups of the milk almost to simmering but make sure you watch it so that your milk doesn't boil. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, with a 12-inch or larger whisk, stir remaining 1/2 cup milk into the 3 egg yolks. In a second bowl combine 1 cup sugar, the flour, cocoa powder, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt; whisk in egg yolk mixture until smooth. Gradually whisk in hot milk; return the mixture to saucepan.
Over medium-high heat cook and stir mixture until it comes to a full boil. Boil for 30 seconds and remove from heat. Whisk in chocolate and butter until melted and smooth. Stir in 2 teaspoons vanilla. Strain mixture through a sieve, pushing it through with a spatula as needed. Pour in baked cooled pie shell and cover just the filling with plastic wrap to prevent skin from forming. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before adding meringue.
Meringue: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine water and sugar in small saucepan. Bring to vigorous boil over medium-high heat. Once syrup comes to rolling boil, cook 4 minutes (mixture will become slightly thickened and syrupy). Remove from heat and set aside.
With electric mixer, beat egg whites in large bowl at medium-low speed until frothy, about 1 minute. Add salt and cream of tartar and beat, gradually increasing speed to medium-high, until whites hold soft peaks, about 2 minutes. With mixer running, slowly pour hot syrup into egg whites. Add vanilla and beat until meringue has cooled and becomes very thick and shiny, 5 to 9 minutes.
Using rubber spatula, mound meringue over filling, making sure meringue touches edges of crust. That's an important step so that meringue does not begin to shrink and pull away from crust, leaving a gap.
Use spatula to create peaks all over meringue. Bake at 325 degrees for about 25 minutes or until peaks turn golden brown. Transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature. YUM!
♥♥ Tips for making the perfect tall meringue
Always make sure your bowl and beaters are free of any grease or oil. The tiniest speck of oil causes great volume loss.
Always use eggs that are a few days old and make sure they are at room temperature before you use them. If you have to start with cold eggs, put them in a bowl of warm water to bring their temperature.
Don’t use your hands to separate the egg yolk from the whites. I know its the most convenient way for most of us, but oil can wreck a good meringue too! Just use the shells, transferring the yolk back and forth between the two and letting the whites fall into one bowl and the yolks into another.
Use glass or metal bowls and keep your hands out of the bowls and away from any surface that would touch the egg whites. You want no oil whatsoever. Plastic bowls often retain oils from foods and the slightest oil from your hands will not help your meringue.
Add the sugar after the whites have reached the soft peak stage when they're fluffy and when you lift the beater the peaks fold over the beater edge). Superfine sugar works the best when making meringues. (Don’t worry if you don't have this in the pantry because you can make your own using your food processor or blender by pulsing your sugar a few times to break the crystals up into smaller ones).
Your meringue is done when you lift the beater out and the whites stand at attention! Don't stop and take a break during the beating process, start it and work it through and you'll have the perfect mile high meringue for your pies!
By the way, don't put a meringue pie in the refrigerator. Store at room temp under a glass or metal bowl. If you store in the fridge, you'll have leaky, weepy meringue. Enjoy!
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