You may have noticed that last week was Max’s birthday. You may also notice that it is now November, though the title of this post would suggest otherwise. Max’s birthday is the ramp up to the holiday season; simultaneously my favorite and the most stressful time of year. We do our holidays big in my family and that includes birthdays sometimes. I like to celebrate Max’s because I don’t really like to celebrate mine.
We started the birthday week off with dinner at Quince. Spectacular! It was one of my favorite meals of all-time, and they were lovely enough to make a special birthday dessert for Max. Thursday was Max’s actual birthday. He was working, of course, but I gave him a small gift in the morning before work. Get your mind out of the gutter! It was a fancy tie bar.
Friday while Max was at work, I baked his favorite pie, lemon meringue. This Chowhound recipe is the one that I followed. I really liked the idea of doing a graham cracker crust because I felt a lemon custard needed something to contrast it.
The graham cracker crust was a snap to make-I mean, crushed grahams and butter. I, of course, added a ton of extra salt because nothing is ever salty enough.
I will say, though, that pressing it down into the dish without leaving gaping holes was a little tough. A small adjustment here or there often moved more of the wet mixture than I meant it to.
So then the crust in the dish goes into the over to bake, and it’s custard time! It was my first time making a custard-first time for a lot of things, so I was super cautious and literal about the non-stop whisking while the mixture is over the burner and boiling. I liked that the recipe called for real lemons and lemon juice and used lemon zest, as well. Whether the pie was made with real lemon juice was the first question out of Max’s mouth upon seeing it. I know my audience. Squeezing/juicing lemons, however, I could do without. I’ll refer you to my comment regarding weak wrists. I could have used the stand mixer, but I wanted to use it for the meringue, and even though I work very cleanly, I also didn’t want to deal with cleaning all the attachments.
After the crust has cooled, you pour the hot lemon custard into the crust. This was a real pretty time in the life of this pie. That has to cool, so I started on making my first meringue.
I don’t know what all the fuss is about. I was pretty nervous to make a meringue. People say it is very difficult, but I think it was only difficult in a world before YouTube and the Internet, because there are all these different stages and you have to stop mixing the egg whites at a precise time or risk overdoing it. Hell, I didn’t know what “soft peaks” were supposed to look like exactly, so I looked it up and the site walked me through all the different stages of meringue.
When it looked like the picture and acted like the description underneath the picture, I stopped mixing and poured the meringue onto the now-room temperature custard and crust. This was another good-looking period for this pie.
Then you stick it all back into the oven until the meringue is toasted. Again, gorgeous.
Next time I make a meringue pie, I would use all the meringue the recipe made and build it much higher than I did. I am not actually either a lemon dessert or a meringue fan, myself, so I really didn’t know what it was supposed to look or taste like. That said, I’ve now eaten the majority of it. Oh well.
Aside from that small note for future reference, I’m happy with the way it turned out. It tastes kick-ass and is a feast for the eyes. Right? So pretty. I think I have a crush on this pie.
Happy 30th Birthday, Max!
You better grab some lemon meringue pie before I eat it all! Haha!