Recently I was invited to have dinner at a friend’s place and she made Chocolate Pavlova. I asked, “What’s a pavlova?!”. She replied that it’s a meringue cake with a crisp crust and marshmallow-y inside, usually topped with whipped cream and fruit. I’d never heard of it before, she said it’s an Australian/New Zealand dessert. Ah, no wonder.
I’ve been obsessed over meringue lately, don’t ask me why coz I don’t have an answer to that. I’m also in the mood for tart flavors, so I looked up recipes and came across Martha Stewart’s Upside Down Lemon Meringue Pie which fulfils both criteria. I rolled up my sleeves last weekend and made it in my kitchen.
The meringue I had in mind originally is the bite-sized airy candy type, but the chocolate pavlova my friend made left quite an impression as the exterior is light and crunchy, while the inside is soft and bouncy. Just like a marshmallow with crispy edges. I was really intrigued by this when I made my lemon version and had high hopes it’d turn out having the same contrasting textures like a pavlova.
Happy to share that my Upside Down Lemon Meringue Pie came out just as expected, with a pillowy soft interior hidden by the crunchy shell. The lemon custard itself is very refreshing, but a note: Watch the saucepan closely and keep stirring as this burns easily. The first batch I made ended up in the garbage bin because the edges started caramelising yet I continued stirring the custard, so there were all these brown bits all over which were impossible to remove. I had to make a second batch. This is what happens when I’m multitasking and filming at the same time, bah! I’ll upload the blooper video onto my Snapchat @m00nberry (that’s double zeros, like 007 – heh). Thank you to everyone who has followed me on Instagram and giving thumbs-up to the flurry of 15-sec snappy cooking/baking videos that I post there. I’ll be using Snapchat to share behind-the-scenes stuff; I downloaded the app eight months ago, used it for two days, deleted it, and now resurrecting it back into my phone. Please bear with me as I’m still figuring out fun goofy bits to share using the app.
Anyhoo… frankly this entire pie is way too sweet for me even though I’ve added whipped cream to offset the sweetness. It’s not the recipe, it’s my tastebuds. I found my friend’s chocolate pavlova super sweet too and had to stop at only one slice. When I make this again, I’d probably cut down the sugar amount by at least half. But how is that going to affect the meringue texture, does anyone care to share with me?
Without further ado, the recipe.
Upside Down Lemon Meringue Pie
Unsalted butter, softened, for pie plate
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup sugar
6 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 lemon (juiced)
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
1 cup heavy cream
Meringue: Preheat oven to 300 degrees with rack in center. Lightly brush a 9-inch pie plate with butter. Whisk together egg whites and 1 tablespoon cold water with a mixer on high speed until foamy, about 30 seconds. Add cream of tartar and continue to beat until soft peaks form, about 1 minute. Gradually add sugar and beat until thick, glossy peaks form, about 5 minutes. Transfer egg-white mixture to prepared pie plate; spread along bottom and up sides to form crust. Bake meringue until crisp and light golden on outside, about 40 minutes. Turn off heat and let cool in oven 1 hour, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
Custard: Whisk egg yolks in a medium saucepan until thickened and pale yellow, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in sugar, lemon juice and zest. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until mixture is very thick, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bow, cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto surface of custard. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
When ready to serve, whisk custard until smooth. Whip cream with a mixer on high speed until soft peaks form, about 30 seconds, and gently fold whipped cream into custard. Fill meringue crust with lightened custard; smooth top. Refrigerate, loosely covered, at least 8 hours and up to 1 day.
Topping: Finely grate lemon zest over top and decorate with blueberries and mint leaves.
(adapted from Martha Stewart’s recipe.)