Thursday, March 01, 2012

Lemon Littles

Once upon a time, long, long ago...way back in 2006, before Pinterest exploded every awesome recipe on the planet onto the cork board of all cork boards, I made these. I totally thought that I made them up because who else would think of putting lemon pie filling into a mini muffin tin and top it with meringue?

Obviously nobody.

Lately though, I've been seeing reincarnations of my little lemon pies all over the place and I think to myself, "Self, you should have patented that recipe." Not that I can't be completely 100% sure that I was the first person ever to make these delightful little treats, but back in 2006, I can guarantee that nobody else was "pinning" these to an online cork board.

Anyway, these are as wonderful today as they were back in 2006.

Just check them out, sitting there in their mini muffin tin glory, waiting to be popped into the oven so that meringue gets a nice suntan:

For some strange reason, I took a picture of my kitchen at the end of the whole process:

I'm not sure why the toaster was out on the counter...maybe I got hungry midway and had a snack? And yes, there sits my beloved Diet Coke. That was back in the day when I slugged that stuff day in and day out like a sailor on leave. There is a knife holding my place in a Martha Stewart cookbook - why? And I also see that super awesome square glass container on top of the microwave...I wonder what ever happened to that? Must. Go. Searching.

But first, the recipe!

Best Ever Little Lemon Meringue Pies

One package pre-made pie crust

I can never get homemade pie crust just the way I like it, so I cave and buy the stuff in the store, all ready to go. Just unwrap that baby from the packaging, give it a quick little roll out on a dusted butcher block and press into a mini muffin tin sprayed with a little Pam. Prick the bottom of each "pie" with a fork to let out the air and bake for about 10 min at 325 until just golden brown because there is nothing, and I mean NOTHING, worse than a burnt pie crust.

While that is cooking make the filling:

3 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 cups water
3 tablespoons butter
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/2 lemon juice
yellow food coloring

Beat egg yolks in a small bowl until they all look the same. Heat the sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan over medium heat, gradually stir in water, stirring constantly. Do this until the mixture thickens and boils then cook for about 1 minute.

Now here is the tricky part, the part where you don't make scrambled eggs: Stir half of the sugar, cornstarch, water mixture INTO the egg yolks, stirring constantly. When that's all mixed together, add that back into the mixture in the pan and boil for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. As in, DO NOT LET THAT SPOON BECOME IDLE. Remove from heat. Add the butter, lemon juice, lemon zest and as much yellow food coloring as your little heart desires. Pour into the little pie crusts.

Make the meringue:

3 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
6 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Beat egg whites and cream of tartar on high until foamy. Add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, until thick and glossy. I think it's basically impossible to beat this too much, so have at it. When the meringue is just where you want it to be, beat in the vanilla. Now you are good to go. Dollop a little meringue on top of each lovely little lemon pie and pop back into the oven for about 10 more minutes at 350. Watch carefully! You don't want to cook them for too long and end up with a dried out, burnt meringue. Because that would just be sad and these aren't supposed to make you sad, they're supposed to make you happy!

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