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Perfect Lemon Meringue Pie with Easy, Press-In Crust (VIDEO)

Perfect Lemon Meringue Pie with Easy, Press-In Crust (VIDEO)

This perfect Lemon Meringue Pie is a truly memorable dessert: the easy, cookie-like hazelnut crust combined with the zesty filling and creamy meringue will delight all fans of this classic dessert. 

How to Make a Perfect Lemon Meringue Pie: This Lemon Meringue Pie recipe will create a truly memorable dessert: the easy, cookie-like hazelnut crust combined with the zesty filling and creamy Italian meringue will delight all fans of this classic dessert. Helpful tips and how-to video included! // FoodNouveau.com

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The first dishes I ever made from scratch were desserts. My mother encouraged me to bake with her very early on, and our projects would range from simple weeknight desserts to elaborate treats we’d serve at dinner parties. She kept a binder filled with handwritten recipes and clippings from old newspapers and magazines, which I would read like a storybook. She marked all the recipes with the date she first made them, along with a short appreciative comment such as “TB!” (Très bon! – Very good!). Sometimes she would note substitutions or the exact occasion for which the dessert was made, such as a birthday or a family reunion. I was especially fond of the very old clippings, those dating from my very early childhood or before I was born; the paper had turned yellow and brittle and smelled like dusty antique books. In a way, her recipe binders were like family keepsake albums:  flipping through them allowed me to trace the evolution of my mother’s—and our family’s—tastes over the years.

How to Make a Perfect Lemon Meringue Pie: This Lemon Meringue Pie recipe will create a truly memorable dessert: the easy, cookie-like hazelnut crust combined with the zesty filling and creamy Italian meringue will delight all fans of this classic dessert. Helpful tips and how-to video included! // FoodNouveau.com

After coaching me for a few years, my mom started delegating dessert-making to me from time to time. I was more than happy to take over the task: brownies and carrot cake with cream cheese frosting were among my favorite things to make. But the very first dessert I remember making fully on my own is lemon meringue pie. Granted, I made it from a store-bought mix, but I was so proud of the result: the crust was delightfully buttery, the lemon custard silky and tart, and the meringue so delightfully airy! It was not a typical super-sweet kids’ treat, and I remember how sophisticated it felt to bite into that tart yellow filling. Licking the bowl of fluffy meringue also made me feel ridiculously happy, and it still does to this day.

As a child who loved baking, it never crossed my mind to make lemon meringue pie from scratch and I’m not sure why. I was used to making desserts from scratch, but perhaps the fact that I was cracking eggs, adding melted butter and water, and mixing ingredients together made it seem like a legit recipe. In any case, I decided lemon meringue pie was my signature dessert and my love for it has continued to grow over the years.

How to Make a Perfect Lemon Meringue Pie: This Lemon Meringue Pie recipe will create a truly memorable dessert: the easy, cookie-like hazelnut crust combined with the zesty filling and creamy Italian meringue will delight all fans of this classic dessert. Helpful tips and how-to video included! // FoodNouveau.com

Of course, I eventually realized I needed to start squeezing and zesting real lemons to make a perfect lemon meringue pie. I’m sure I’ve made hundreds of lemon meringue pies over the years. At first, I would test a different recipe every time; then I settled on a specific technique and focused on tweaking it. The recipe below has been my go-to for years now. There’s just nothing to tweak or change about it anymore: this perfect lemon meringue pie is a representation of the classic dessert in its purest and brightest form. It tastes like sunshine on a summer day!

How to Make a Perfect Lemon Meringue Pie: This Lemon Meringue Pie recipe will create a truly memorable dessert: the easy, cookie-like hazelnut crust combined with the zesty filling and creamy Italian meringue will delight all fans of this classic dessert. Helpful tips and how-to video included! // FoodNouveau.com

How to Make a Perfect Lemon Meringue Pie: This Lemon Meringue Pie recipe will create a truly memorable dessert: the easy, cookie-like hazelnut crust combined with the zesty filling and creamy Italian meringue will delight all fans of this classic dessert. Helpful tips and how-to video included! // FoodNouveau.com


Perfect Lemon Meringue Pie Recipe Video: Watch How it’s Made


Helpful Tips for Making a Perfect Lemon Meringue Pie


Shortcut Your Way to Lemon Meringue Pie by Using an Easy Press-In Crust

You can make lemon meringue pie using a variety of crusts. You can make your own shortcrust pastry from scratch—here’s my foolproof food processor shortcrust recipe if you want to go that route)—or you can use store-bought pie dough. Both of these options require blind-baking before you pour in the lemon pie filling and bake it. While a roll-in crust is a traditional vessel for lemon meringue pie, I’m suggesting you try something different: a simple, press-in, shortbread-type of crust. The taste of a nutty, crunchy cookie-like crust against the tart lemon filling is just irresistible! Plus, a press-in dough is so quick and easy to make—it’s pretty much foolproof!

The crust I include in my perfect Lemon Meringue Pie recipe is my grown-up version of the graham cracker crust that came with the lemon meringue pie store-bought mix I used as a kid. Doesn’t the combination of hazelnut shortbread, zesty lemon cream, and sweet meringue sound absolutely dreamy? My point exactly. Please give my hazelnut press-in crust a try: I’ll bet you’ll never look back.

Vary the Lemon Varieties You Use in Lemon Meringue Pie

You can use good old regular lemons to make this pie, but if you can get your hands on a bag of Meyer lemons (usually available in the winter, from December to March), you should give them a try: Meyer lemons are a bit sweeter and they have a delightfully flowery aroma. Using only Meyer lemons will produce a lemon meringue pie that’s sweeter, less “zingy,” which a lot of people enjoy.

What I like to do when Meyer lemons are in season is to use a combination of 1/3 regular lemons, 2/3 Meyer lemons. This produces a beautifully aromatic pie with an assertive lemon taste that’s rounded off by just enough sweetness to make it universally pleasing.

The Pros and Cons of French, Italian, and Swiss Meringues

There are pros and cons to all three types of meringues.

French meringue is easier and quicker to make: You simply beat egg whites with sugar until they’re stiff and glossy. No heat or syrup is required. The issue with French meringue is that it doesn’t hold well over time. You’ll find it will deflate and start “weeping” (leak liquid over the lemon pie filling) after spending the night in the fridge. You should only make French meringue if the lemon meringue pie will be eaten the day it is made.

Italian meringue is more technical to make: You need to create a syrup with the use of a candy thermometer, and then pour this hot syrup over egg whites while you beat them. This creates a gorgeous meringue that holds well, but the syrup technique can be tricky—not to mention the fact it requires a specific piece of equipment to make. This is a classic, tried-and-true technique, which is why I’m including it in this recipe. 

The Swiss method is the best of both worlds: It’s as easy as beating all the ingredients together, yet it can be prepared in advance and holds for days because it is cooked. The difference between the Italian and the Swiss methods is that instead of cooking the meringue by mixing in a hot syrup, you simply beat it in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. It does require more beating time, but it’s a one-step, foolproof technique, and this is why the Swiss method has been my go-to technique to make meringue for years. If you’ve never made meringue before, I suggest you start with the Swiss method—this is the one I use all the time and the one I included in my recipe below. The recipe also includes the French meringue method as an alternative. 

Two-day-old Lemon Meringue Pie made with Italian meringue // FoodNouveau.com

 
How to Make a Perfect Lemon Meringue Pie: This Lemon Meringue Pie recipe will create a truly memorable dessert: the easy, cookie-like hazelnut crust combined with the zesty filling and creamy Italian meringue will delight all fans of this classic dessert. Helpful tips and how-to video included! // FoodNouveau.com

Perfect Lemon Meringue Pie with Easy, Press-In Crust

This Lemon Meringue Pie recipe will create a truly memorable dessert: the easy, cookie-like hazelnut crust combined with the zesty filling and creamy Italian meringue will delight all fans of this classic dessert.
Prep Time:45 minutes
Cook Time:35 minutes
Total Time:2 hours 20 minutes
Servings 8 servings

Ingredients

For the Easy Press-In Crust

For the Lemon Pie Filling

  • ½ cup butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest (from about 1 lemon)
  • ¾ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from regular or Meyer lemons, or a combination)
  • ½ to ¾ cup granulated sugar (less sugar if using Meyer lemons, more if using regular lemons)
  • 3 large egg yolks (save the egg whites while separating the eggs to make the meringue)
  • 3 large eggs

For the Swiss Meringue (see note for French meringue method)

For the Hazelnut Praline Topping (optional)

Instructions

  • For the easy press-in crust: Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Lightly grease a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom and set it on a baking sheet. In the bowl of a food processor, add the flour, hazelnuts, powdered sugar, lemon zest, and salt. Process until the hazelnuts are finely ground. (If using ground hazelnuts, simply combine the ingredients in a large mixing bowl.) Drizzle the butter over the flour and nut mixture. Stir with a fork until the butter is well incorporated and the mixture is moist. Press the mixture onto the bottom and up the sides of the tart pan. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the crust is lightly golden. Remove from the oven and set aside, leaving the oven on.
  • For the lemon pie filling: In a medium saucepan, combine the lemon zest, butter, lemon juice, and sugar. Set over medium heat and stir until the butter is melted and the sugar dissolved. Remove from the heat.
    In a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and the whole eggs. While whisking constantly, slowly pour in the warm butter and lemon juice mixture. It’s essential to pour the hot mixture very slowly and to whisk throughout the process to warm the eggs slowly, otherwise, you’ll end up with scrambled eggs! Scrape the warm egg mixture back into the saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Whisk constantly until the filling thickens and resembles custard, which should take 4 to 5 minutes. Do not let it boil.
  • Pour the lemon filling into the pre-baked pie shell. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and set over a cooling rack. When the pie comes out of the oven, the filling will still be jiggly. It will firm up as it cools.
  • For the Swiss meringue: In a clean, stainless steel bowl, combine the egg whites, sugar, water, and cream of tartar. In a saucepan slightly smaller than the stainless steel bowl, pour an inch of water, then set over medium heat to bring to a simmer. Set the stainless steel bowl over the simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water directly, and beat the meringue with a hand mixer on low speed for 4 minutes. Increase the speed to high and beat until the meringue is bright white and thick, 4 minutes more. Remove the bowl from the heat and keep beating until the meringue is fluffy and room temperature to the touch, 4 to 6 minutes more.
  • To assemble the lemon meringue pie: Carefully unmold the pie and transfer it to a serving plate. Spread the Swiss meringue over the lemon pie filling. (You can do it even if the pie is still warm). Use the back of a spoon to create a spiral pattern or decorative peaks. You could also transfer the meringue to a pastry bag to pipe it over the pie. Use a kitchen torch to toast the meringue all over.
    Alternatively, set an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the broiler. Set the pie on a baking sheet and put it under the broiler. Keep an eye on the pie at all times and rotate it frequently to toast the meringue as evenly as possible.
  • Let the pie cool completely (you can refrigerate it for an hour to speed up the process).
  • For the hazelnut praline topping (optional): Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat. In a medium saucepan, heat the sugar and water over medium heat, stirring with a silicone spatula, until the sugar is completely melted. Bring to a full boil and cook, without stirring, carefully swirling the pan from time to time, until the caramel turns to a beautiful amber color. Working very quickly, remove from the heat, add the hazelnuts, stir just to incorporate, and then spread the mixture onto the prepared baking sheet.
    Let cool at room temperature (or in the fridge if you’re in a rush) until the praline is set and hard, 15 to 30 minutes. Break the praline into pieces and store in an airtight container until ready to use. To sprinkle over the lemon meringue pie, pulse in a food processor until you reach a coarse consistency. The praline (or praline powder) will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for several days.
  • SERVING: Sprinkle the perfect lemon meringue pie with crushed hazelnut praline, if desired, then slice and serve. Serve with extra hazelnut praline, to taste.
  • STORAGE: Refrigerate leftover lemon meringue pie under a cake dome or in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

NOTES

  • How to Toast and Peel Hazelnuts: Place the hazelnuts on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 350°F (170°C) for 15 minutes, giving the tray a good shake every five minutes. When the skin of the hazelnuts is shiny and crackled, remove from the oven and transfer to a clean kitchen towel. Close the towel up into a bundle and rub the hazelnuts against one another vigorously to remove the skin. Open the towel and pick up the peeled hazelnuts. Some bits of skin will remain but that’s ok! Keep the peeled hazelnuts in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use.
  • How to Make French Meringue: This meringue is simpler and faster to make but will not sit well. You should only make French meringue if the pie will be eaten the day it is made. 
    Wipe a lemon wedge inside the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or a large stainless steel mixing bowl if using a hand mixer), then add 3 egg whites. Alternatively, combine 3 egg whites and ½ tsp (2 ml) lemon juice or ½ tsp (2 ml) cream of tartar in the bowl. Whisk until soft peaks form, then add 1 tbsp (12 g) granulated sugar. Whisk for 1 minute, then add 1 tbsp (12 g) more granulated sugar. Repeat until you’ve incorporated a total of 6 tbsp (72 g) of sugar. Whisk until the French meringue is thick and glossy and forms firm peaks.
    Spread the French meringue over the room lemon pie filling (the pie must be room temperature or cold before you top it with French meringue), then brown using a kitchen torch or under the broiler. Serve within a few hours.

Video

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Tell me how you liked it! Leave a comment or take a picture and tag it with @foodnouveau on Instagram.

How to Make a Perfect Lemon Meringue Pie: This Lemon Meringue Pie recipe will create a truly memorable dessert: the easy, cookie-like hazelnut crust combined with the zesty filling and creamy Italian meringue will delight all fans of this classic dessert. Helpful tips and how-to video included! // FoodNouveau.com

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Author: Marie Asselin

Prep Time: 45 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes

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  1. This seriously is the best lemon meringue pie ever!! I just made this for my mom (her favourite dessert) and my family all agreed it was the best one we’d ever tasted! We like our lemon meringue pies light on the sugar and heavy on the lemon and this was exactly the perfect ratio. Also it was my first time making a lemon meringue and your directions were so easy to follow, thanks so much for the recipe!

    For others who might make this: I made the meringue without cream of tartar (can’t get here) and it still worked, just make sure you beat the whites enough of course. I also increased the meringue from 3 to 5 egg whites to have a higher top on the pie which worked perfectly and looked great!

    • I’m very happy your family loved this lemon pie as much as mine does! Your idea to make the meringue even higher is great, maybe I’ll do that next time. There’s no such thing as too much meringue!

    • Cream of tartar will create a stiffer, more stable meringue. You can substitute lemon juice, which you’re likely to have on hand since you’re making lemon pie :) You can either add ½ tsp (2 ml) lemon juice to the egg whites, or asimply brush the inside of the bowl you’ll be using to whip egg whites with a thin slice of lemon.

    • Cream of tartar helps produce a stiffer meringue (a little goes a long way!) I never tried it without but if you do, tell me about it afterwards!