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Silky Lemon Chiffon Pie (and lessons learned)

Pie is a celebratory dessert, at least with my family. This week marked my two-year wedding anniversary. To celebrate I made a lemon chiffon pie. I picked up this amazing recipe from America’s Test Kitchen on Netflix. If you have Netflix, it is season 14, episode 26. I love ATK and their recipes! If you follow their recipes to the letter, you’ll get fantastic results every time. The Test Kitchen is amazing!

Of course, I put in extra lemon zest. I’m one of those crazy nuts that love the taste of lemon, especially in my desserts. The acidity heightens the flavor and gives it a refreshing shock to the pallet right before the soothing sweetness. I taste tested my curd as I went and got the level of sour and sweet to my preferred level. This is just a personal preference. I always recommend to taste and adjust the seasoning to what suits your tastes.

This pie was a labor of love, especially when you don’t have a standing mixer. I came to find I, nor my little Cuisinart hand mixer, have the stamina to beat egg whites and sugar into “nice stiff peaks”. During the process my hand mixer got over heated and I got super tired after working the egg whites for a good 45 minutes on high speed. We got to nice hard peaks, but when I added the curd to the meringue it all collapsed and became a liquid again. We, my hand mixer and I, looked at each other in disappointment. But we didn’t have the energy to try again. So, I put the meringue on the pie and popped it in the fridge. SO, lesson learned! A standing mixer is an excellent investment for making meringue.

Still turnout to be one hell of a pie! Enjoy!

Lemon_Chiffon_Pie_Slice
A slice of lemon chiffon pie
Lemon Chiffon Pie 

For the crust:

Ingredients

  • 9 graham crackers
  • 3 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt (I used kosher, but I think table salt will work too)
  • 5 tbsp melted butter

Instructions

  1. Preheat over to 325°F
  2. Break the graham crackers into 1-inch pieces and place in a food processor
  3. Grind the graham crackers for 30 seconds, until they turn into a fine grain
  4. Add sugar and salt, pulse until fully incorporated (3-5 times)
  5. Add butter and mix until well combined. To test if ready, grab a small handful and squeeze in your hand. If it clumps and forms a nice ball, it’s ready.
  6. Pour the graham cracker mixture into a 9-inch pie pan, preferably glass. Use a spatula to get any bits that may be stuck in the corners.
  7. Press the mixture down with your hands or a measuring cup on the plate so you get a nice uniform 1/8-inch crust along the bottom and along the sides. Make sure to really push the crust into the corners. (A 1/2-cup metal measuring cup with a flat bottom and straight sides really helps make this job easier, but isn’t required. I did this all by hand.)
  8. Place pie crust shell into the oven and bake for 15 minutes
  9. Remove pie crust shell out of the oven and set aside to cool

For the lemon curd:

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp gelatin (divided) 
  • 4 tbsp water (divided) 
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 egg yolks (save whites for meringue)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 1/8 tsp salt (I used kosher, but I think table salt will work too)
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest (preferably from an organic lemon)
  • 3/4 cup lemon juice (preferably fresh)
  • 1/4 heavy cream

Instructions

  1. In two separate small bowls, place 2 tablespoons of water then add 1/2 teaspoon of gelatin, allowing gelatin to dissolve.
  2. In a medium sauce pan, add eggs, egg yolks and sugar. Whisk together until well combined and the mixture is smooth.
  3. Whisk in corn start and salt until well combined and smooth.
  4. Whisk in lemon zest and lemon juice. For more of a bite, add 1-1/2 tablespoons of more lemon zest, or to desired amount.
  5. Turn the stove onto low and place pan on the heat. While whisking the mixture, pour in the cream. Keep on the heat and whisk frequently until curd registers 170°F on an instant read thermometer. When done, your curd should be thick and slightly translucent. For a thicker curd, keep on the heat until curd registers 180°F on an instant read thermometer.
  6. Add 1 small bowl of dissolved gelatin from step 1 and whist into the curd mixture util well combined.
  7. Cover curd and remove from the heat for 2 minutes, allowing the gelatin to set into the curd mixture.
  8. Measure our 1-1/4 cups of curd into a measuring cup, setting aside the remaining mixture for the meringue.
  9. Strain the curd through a fine mesh strainer to remove any lumps.
  10. Pour strained curd into the cool pie shell. Carefully tilt the pie around to create an even layer of curd on the bottom.
  11. Place pie in freeze until meringue is done.

For the meringue:

Ingredients

  • Remaining dissolved gelatin from curd instructions, step 1
  • Remaining curd from curd instructions, step 8
  • 3 egg whites
  • 4 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

Instructions

  1. Add remaining dissolved gelatin into remaining curd mixture.
  2. Whisk cream cheese into curd mixture until nice and smooth.
  3. Place egg whites in stand mixer bowl and whisk on low until eggs begin to break up and get foamy.
  4. While the mixer is running, slowly add sugar to egg whites. When sugar is incorporated, crank the speed up to high and mix until nice stiff peaks form.
  5. Stop the mixer and add the curd mixture. On low, mix the curd into the meringue until well incorporated.
  6. Pull out the pie from the freeze and pour meringue on top.
  7. Place completed pie in fridge for at least 4 hours, overnight preferred.
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