Easy Recipes for Stay-at-Home-Dads: How Not to Make a Lemon Meringue Pie

            Those of you who may follow these intermittent posts which try to combine my SAHD status observations with some culinary recommendations may have noticed one area I do not address is dessert.  For the most part this has been by choice.  I do manage to make a fairly decent Crème Brule when we have company (it gives me an excuse to hide in the kitchen during one of my mother-in-law’s six-week visits from the great southwest) or when a weekend meal needs a little extra zip (our anniversary or my wife’s birthday) but, for the most part, it is far easier to give my son ice cream with chocolate sauce, the occasional strawberry shortcake or fruit than to bake a cake.

            My last post, “Pork Rib Sides,” discussed some recommendations I use for our normal Friday night meal and, this past Friday, I followed the normal form.  After I had rubbed the ribs, chopped cabbage, made the slaw and gotten out the potatoes for fries I strayed and opted to give a lemon meringue pie a shot.  Put it down to stupidity, overconfidence or perhaps the extra coffee I had with lunch but I went ahead.

            Now, for those of you who have not ventured here before, all one of these things needs is a ready-made 9-inch graham cracker crust, 14 ounces of sweetened condensed milk, vanilla extract, about ½ cup of lemon juice, some sugar and a few eggs.  The process is pretty simple: you mix the milk and the lemon juice with the egg yolks and pour it in the crust; whip some egg whites and sugar and put the mass on the pie then pop it in the oven for about 20 minutes.  Easy, right?  Well, then, why did it take me over a dozen eggs and about 45 minutes to make just the meringue and, even at that point, it still would not come out right?

            After a few phone calls to my wife I figured it out.  Below is the complete recipe with the secret step.

Lemon Meringue Pie

Ingredients:

1 ready-made 9-inch graham cracker crust

2 egg yolks

14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk

½ cup of lemon juice (preferably from a fresh lemon)

3 eggs whites

5 teaspoons of white sugar

2 teaspoons of vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven (I use a convection oven as it cooks the pie evenly and slightly quicker) to 350 degrees.

2. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg yolks and condensed milk until the mixture has doubled in volume.

3. Continue to mix while gradually adding the lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of the vanilla extract.

4. Pour the mixture into the crust and set aside.

5. Now, here is where the problem occurred.  Through some experimenting I found that if you take the other three eggs (which you are, subsequently, to use the egg whites from) and put them in a tall glass full of warm tap water (while still in their shells) for about five minutes, the eggs will warm enough to make the meringue successfully.

6. Remove the eggs from the water and place the whites from all three into a large bowl.  Using an electric mixture at its highest setting, beat the egg whites until they begin to get stiff, forming what some recipes call “peaks,” and you can almost turn the bowl over without the mass falling out.

7. Continue to mix while adding the other teaspoon of vanilla extract and gradually adding the sugar until those “peaks” get bigger and the mass becomes a bit stiffer.

8. Evenly spoon the meringue onto the pie and place the pie into the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes (while checking to ensure the meringue does not burn).

9. When the meringue has begun to turn a light brown remove the pie and place it on the counter to cool.  In about 20 minutes place the pie in the refrigerator for about an hour.

            This seemingly easy recipe took about a dozen eggs and almost an hour before I even had something to put in the oven.  Apparently, unless the egg whites are at or above room temperature, they will not whip correctly.

            Well, that’s it.  Good luck.

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