recipe + tutorial: real pink lemon meringue pie
This pie is so special because it’s both my partner’s birthday pie and made with REAL pink lemons. This pie is smooth, sweet, bright with a slight tartness!! This is the perfect alternative for anyone who doesn’t love birthday cake. I happened to make this particular pie and purchase these pink lemons from a farm in California at the height of citrus season because it was my partner’s birthday and his birthday is at the height of citrus season. These pink lemons taste fruity and floral. It even has a floral scent!
If you can’t believe you’ve lived your whole life thinking pink lemons were not a thing, I feel you! Pink lemons were first discovered as a mutant on a Eureka lemon tree in a California backyard around 1930. You might be wondering, what’s the deal with the color of the lemon and the color of this tart? The catch is that the juice runs more clear, not pink. Don’t worry we’re going to get this to the inspired color in a bit!
The pink lemons in my recipe have variegated yellow-and-green-striped skin (when the green fades you know the fruit is ripe) and blush-pink flesh as they continue to ripen (thanks to lycopene, the antioxidant that gives grapefruits their ruby hue).
See my video for a demonstration of how to decorate lemon meringue pie with daisy flowers —so easy and fun! https://youtu.be/3BIaIHdy3oY
What pairs well with lemon meringue pie?
What is super nice about this dessert is that you can customize it in so many ways. The toppings for curd are endless but there are some unique things to add to pavlova well. My favorite options are:
Marionberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries
Other citrus like oranges, grapefruit, pumello
Stone Fruit: cherries, peaches, plums, apricots, nectarines
· Edible gold leaf ;)
When would I enjoy this pie?
Birthdays (dare I say it? Some people don’t like cake)
Elegant bachelorette party
Lemon Curd (4 cups)
10 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup fresh lemon juice (~4 large lemons, more if they’re small!)
1 pinch of pink salt
1 cup cold unsalted butter (2 sticks/ 227grams)
1 TBS lemon zest (optional) [If you do use lemon zest, be sure to mix into sugar so it doesn't dry and strain it out after cooking the mixture because it can become bitter over time.]
· Here is the best pie crust recipe
1 ½ C granulated sugar
¾ C egg white (6 eggs)
1 TBS of vanilla extract
1 tsp COT
1 pink of salt
· Stand mixer
· Mixing bowl (anything but plastic)
· 2-3 spatulas (avoid wood)
· Baking tray
· Kitchen scale (optional but great for accuracy)
· Glass measuring cup/ measuring tools
How to make pink lemon curd:
Step 1 – separating eggs. Separate the yolks from the egg whites. If the yolk breaks for some reason, don’t throw out the eggs – you can still use this for the curd. Wrap and set aside, in fridge, 6 of the egg whites for the meringue.
Tip: It’s easiest to separate eggs when they’re cold.
Tip: Store the egg yolks in an airtight container for the curd.
Step 2A – cooking pink lemon curd. In a pan over medium heat, simmer about an inch of water. I use a bain-marie technique to cook the eggs and sugar. Place metal mixing bowl over simmering water and whisk non-stop. Add a splash of the citrus and mix, mix, mix. If you're going to add food coloring, do this now. Then gradually incorporate the rest of the citrus while stirring constantly. Also, add that pinch of salt. The mixture will become foamy while remaining liquid. You will feel some light tension. The foam will dissipate slowly as the curd thickens over the heat (you might see some bubbles, but they turn the yellow). Cook on medium for 10 to 12 minutes.
Tip: Place a sheet of paper towel on your cutting board to absorb that aromatic (but slippery!) lemon oil that is released when you cut this fruit.
Tip: To get more juice from your lemon, and make it easier to squeeze, press down on the lemon and roll it around before juicing
Tip for creamy ‘no curdle curd’: Keep the bottom of the bowl from touching the simmering water. That will help the mixture cook more evenly throughout, without ‘scrambling’ the eggs at the bottom of the bowl.
Tip on time: Keep mixing while the bowl is over the simmering water. It may feel like it's taking forever to thickening—but that’s not the case.
Tip on storage: Curd can be stored in the refrigerator for two weeks and in the freezer for up to two months.
Step 2B – finishing pink lemon curd. Place cold butter cubes in bowl. Sieve the mixture to get any curdles or seeds out. The cold butter will stop the cooking process. The color of your curd will depend on the color of your egg yolks. Keep mixing and it will thicken. The mixing process takes three to five minutes. You know it's ready when you pull your finger across the back of a spatula and the curd doesn't come back together after 5 seconds.
How to make pie crust:
Step 3 – making pie crust. Steps 1 and 2 of this recipe.
How to assemble the lemon meringue pie:
Step 4 – prepping for meringue. Make sure all the equipment is clean and dry (mixer bowl, whisk, two spatulas, sugar bowl, spoons, bowls to separate egg yolks and whites etc.).
Tip: Make sure your mixer bowl is SUPER clean when making the meringue. I recommend washing your bowl and whisk attachment with alcohol and a degreasing soap. Even a tiny amount of oil/fat will make the meringue fall flat and you’ll never get those stiff peaks.
Step 5 – making meringue. In a pan over medium heat, simmer about ½-1 cup of water. I use a bain-marie technique to cook the egg whites and sugar. Place mixing bowl over simmering water and continue whisking and mix for about 3-5 minutes. Rub mixture between fingers and stop cooking if sugar is dissolved. Continue mixing until fully dissolved (if you need to use a thermometer - get the mixture to 160˚F but this isn’t necessary). Wipe the bottom of the bowl and then transfer to an electric mixer, mixing bowl. In an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the cooked egg whites and sugar on very low until you start to see the first bubbles – this is when I add cream of tartar. Then on medium-high, mix until the bowl is room temperature, this takes about 15 minutes, to get to stiff and glossy peaks. Now add the salt and optional extract and mix for a couple more minutes.
Tip: These instructions are for a stand mixer – I find it’s the most effective way of mixing. If using an electric hand mixer, you may need to add a couple minutes to the mixing time for stiff, smooth and glossy peaks to form.
Tip: How to check if the sugar has dissolved - take a small amount of the meringue mix between your fingers and rub it. If you don't feel any granules or grittiness, then the sugar is completely dissolved.
Tip: The goal here is to help dissolve the sugar but not to deflate or over-beat the egg whites.
Tip: Use super fresh eggs.
Tip: It’s way easier to separate eggs when they’re cold. If your egg whites are not at room temperature, place them in a bowl and set over a second bold of warm water for 15 minutes.
Step 6 – assembling the pink lemon meringue pie. In the cooled pie crust, I pour the room temperature curd and use an angled spatula or spoon to flatten and even it out. Add a generous and heaping amount of Swiss meringue to your pie. To make flowers on the pie – please refer to my YouTube video.
Tip: To prevent weeping you just want to make sure that both your pie is room temperature when you add the room temperature meringue
Tip: I like to toast the meringue right before toasting.
Tip: This keeps well in the fridge wrapped in saran wrap for about a week.
Pink lemon meringue pie success!