Some cool traditional kitchen images:
π Day Pie #4 – Margarita Meringue
Image by djwtwo
I’ve been celebrating Pi Day with my daughters for quite a few years, and with this year being a “high precision” Pi Day (at 9:26:53am, the date and time in US ordering correspond to the first 10 digits of π, 3.141592653…), and it being my 10th anniversary at work at a company with “Math” right there in the company name I couldn’t not make a few punny pies. Unfortunately, my girls were off to Boston for the day (learning some elementary programming), so it was just me solo in the kitchen (not that they minded coming home to homemade pies.)
I made 4 pies this year; the two I’m posting today I only finished up this morning, as I was letting their respective fillings set up overnight before adding their toppings. I usually bake two kinds of pies for Pi Day: pies with geeky Pi puns (yesterday’s pies are both in this category), and pies that are recipes I’m experimenting with. This pie is the latter, and was an excuse to incorporate some alcohol. If I were to make this again, I’d make three changes: I’d switch to a more traditional curd rather than a starch-based icebox filling for the lime filling; I’d incorporate tequila into all three components of the filling; and I’d put the gelatin layer on the bottom of the crust rather than between the meringue and lime fillings. The recipe below represents what I actually made this time, though.
I was tempted to egg-wash and apply pretzel salt to the crimped edge of the crust, but didn’t. If anyone should make the recipe and give that a try, I’m curious to know what you think of the result.
Shot with my Nikon D7000 w/35mm ƒ/1.8 prime, 1/4s @ ƒ/8, ISO100. I had natural light to work with for a change, coming in from a window camera left, with a little fill added with a white reflector on the right. Color finishing in Aperture.
for the crust
crust for 1-crust pie (use your favorite recipe or a decent store-bought crust; this is a simple 3:2:1 flour:fat:liquid by-weight ratio crust with a little sugar and salt added)
for the lime filling
3/4 c. milk
1/4 c. corn starch
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
3 large eggs
1/2 c. fresh lime juice
2 tbl. butter, soft but still cool
grated lime zest from 1 lime
for the "Jello shot" layer
3 oz. lime juice
3 oz. water
2 oz. silver tequila
2 tbl. sugar
2 packets gelatin
zest of 1 lime
2 drops green food color (optional)
for the meringue
4 egg whites at room temperature
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. water
1 tsp. vanilla
Line a pie plate with the crust, crimp the edges, dock it with a fork, and refrigerate the crust for at least 30 minutes. Line the crust with foil and pie weights (or dry beans) and parbake it for 15-20 minutes at 350°F. Remove the pie weights and foil and continue baking until golden brown, another 5-10 minutes. Set aside while you prepare the filling.
In a large saucepan, combine the milk and cornstarch and whisk until the cornstarch is dissolved. Add the condensed milk, eggs, and lime juice, and whisk to combine. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly. It will thicken considerably when it boils. Boil for 1 minute, whisking constantly. Remove from the heat, then whisk in the butter and lime zest.
Place the saucepan into a larger bowl filled with ice, and stir the filling occasionally until it is cool, about 10 minutes. Pour into the prepared crust, level it off, and refrigerate for an hour or so to set.
Make the "Jello shot" layer by combining the lime juice, water, and sugar in a saucepan, and sprinkle the gelatin over the surface to bloom. When the gelatin has bloomed, bring to a simmer to fully dissolve the gelatin. Remove from the heat and whisk in the zest, tequila, and food coloring if you’re using it. Once it’s cooled and beginning to thicken, pour over the filling already in the pie. Return the pie to the fridge for this layer to set completely, which will take an hour or so.
Finally, make the meringue for the topping. Put the egg whites and cream of tartar in the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (make sure the bowl and whisk are impeccably clean; and fat or grease will spoil the meringue.) Combine the water and sugar in a medium saucepan with a candy thermometer and put over medium-high heat. Bring to 240°F. A bit before (20° or so early) the syrup reaches the target temperature, start whisking the egg whites. When they reach soft peaks, turn the mixer off.
When the syrup reaches the target temperature, immediately remove from the heat, turn the mixer back on at medium speed, and pour the syrup carefully in a very thin stream into the mixer bowl. Aim for the spot just outside where the whisk hits the bowl; you don’t want the whisk to fling hot syrup all over the place, just incorporate it slowly. When the syrup is completely added, add the vanilla and continue to whisk at medium-high speed until the exterior of the work bowl no longer feels warm to the touch, 8-10 minutes.
Using a rubber spatula, cover the entire pie with a dome of meringue, making sure to contact the crimped edge of the crust all the way around. Lightly toast the outside of the meringue with a pastry torch or other blowtorch.
Because this is an Italian meringue (cooked meringue) this will be pretty stable, so it will hold for a bit if you’re not serving right away.
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