Passion Fruit Meringue Pie
Just because you can't get away somewhere tropical this winter doesn't mean you can't be transported. One quick dip into this tangy, floral passion fruit pie will have you feeling the warm breezes of Mexico in seconds.
This pie switches out classic lemon for gloriously intense passion fruit. It is a swap that on it's surface might seem complicated but frozen passion fruit (maracuyá) purée can be found in most Mexican markets and requires little more than opening up the pre-scooped and strained purée and adding it to the recipe - an ingenious solution that will keep your freezer stocked with these little pouches of sunshine.
The crust is a traditional sweet pie dough that is blind baked. Blind baking means lining a tart pan with the rolled out dough, press it down into the pan but do not trim it, just let the extra dough hang over the edge. Prick it all over with a fork then lay a large piece of parchment paper on top of the dough in the tart pan and fill that parchment with dried beans or uncooked rice, this will weigh down the dough and keep it from shrinking and puffing up while it bakes. Bake the crust for about 20 minutes or until it starts to brown around the edges, then remove the parchment with the beans and return the crust to the oven for another 10 minutes to let the bottom cook and get golden brown. Remove the crust from the oven and cut off any extra dough that is hanging over the edge with a sharp pairing knife, then let it cool.
The golden crust gets topped with creamy passion fruit filling then topped with a sweet meringue. This meringue is a cooked meringue (also called an Italian meringue) which is a bit more complicated to pull off than traditional meringue pie made with egg whites whipped with raw sugar and then baked, but so worth it. This meringue made with cooked sugar (basically a simple caramel) creates thick, fluffy egg whites that are sweet and creamy. If you want to be fancy you can pipe them out on top of the pie or just pile them on top with a spoon. You can add a toasted touch with a kitchen torch, but sticking the finished pie under the broiler for a second would have the same effect.
In the middle of winter there might not be a better pie than this. When fresh fruit is at a premium a tangy pie made from the tropics with fluffy puffs of marshmallow meringue piled on top is a spectacular substitute.
Passion Fruit Meringue Pie
Makes 1 (9-inch) pie
For the Crust:
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick (8 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 1/2 cup ice water
For the Filling:
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups (14 ounces) passion fruit (maracuyá) purée
- 4 large egg yolks
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
For the Meringue Topping:
- 4 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup water
To make the crust, combine flour, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Toss butter cubes into the flour then using a pastry cutter, or your fingers work the butter into the flour until it is in small pebble-sized pieces. Pour water over the flour and work the water into the dough with your hands until it holds together when you squeeze it. Gather dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Place dough on a clean work surface lightly dusted with flour. Roll dough into a 1/4-inch thick circle and transfer to a 9-inch tart pan or pie dish. Press dough into the dish and prick all over with a fork. Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 375 degrees Farenheit and arrange a rack on the bottom.
Line the dough with a large piece of parchment paper and fill the paper with dry beans or rice. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Remove the parchment and baking beans and return to the oven for 10 minutes or more or until the bottom is golden brown. Set aside to cool. Crust can be made, cooled, wrapped, and kept at room temperature 1 day in advance.
To make the filling: combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan. Whisk in purée and place over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring continuously, and cook for 1 minute, remove from heat.
In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks together until smooth. Gradually add half of the purée, whisking continuously, then pour the mixture back into the saucepan. Return the pan to the heat and cook, stirring continuously with a rubber spatula until thick - about 3 minutes. Make sure you get into the corners of the pan to prevent curdling or burning.
Remove from heat and whisk in butter until smooth. Pour into pie crust and let cool 15 minutes. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly over the surface of the filling to prevent a crust from forming and refrigerate until set, about 4 hours.
To make the meringue, combine whites and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.
Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan and place over moderate heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved then attach a candy thermometer to the side. Let cook, undisturbed until caramel is 235 degrees Farenheit. At this point, start beating egg whites on high. When caramel is between 238-242 degrees Farenheit and whites are at medium peak start, very slowly, pouring the hot caramel down the side of the mixing bowl, staying away from the whisk.
Continue to gradually pour the caramel into the egg whites until all caramel has been added. Continue beating the whites on high until they are completely cool and have formed big, fluffy peaks, about 8-10 minutes.
If you are broiling the pie, turn broiler to high. Pipe or spoon meringue on top of the filling and then brown the top with a kitchen torch or under the broiler for 1-2 minutes.
Cut into slices and enjoy.
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