I’ve said this before but the recipes I make have probably been getting more simple and less time consuming than the other way around. All of my food sentimentalities are still there but I just have less time to play in the kitchen. That being said, when it’s your father-in-law’s birthday and he requests his favorite dessert (and your father-in-law is as amazing a guy as mine is), you get to work!
This pie came from my mom’s friend Helen Long, many many years ago. I believe my mom makes it with a traditional crust so this is my tweaked version. The pecan crust is crunchy and the flavor of the nuts pairs so well with creamy sweet vanilla ice cream and tart lemon curd. It also makes the pie gluten free and since 4 of the guests at this birthday party were gluten free, it made things easy.
Do you fancy yourself a fairly adept cook? This is the pie for you. It requires homemade crust, homemade lemon curd, and homemade meringue. The lemon curd is actually easier than you may think and the crust is an absolute cinch, but we need to talk meringue for a hot sec. Egg whites separate easiest when they’re cold but beat up best when they’re room temperature. Two things will keep your whites from growing and that’s egg yolk and fat. If you make a mistake when you’re separating and the smallest trace of yolk gets into the whites, start over. That’s why I have a “transfer bowl” when I need to collect a bunch of egg whites.
The fact that slimy, clear egg whites can turn into voluminous, shiny clouds with just the help of cream of tartar and sugar amazes me. Food is amazing! Next, and I’ve just gotta say it for all of you who do NOT want a challenge and do not yet consider yourself such an adept cook, but if you like the idea of this but want to make it in a quarter of the time, then buy a graham cracker crust and a container of lemon curd. I give you freedom.
Lemon Meringue Ice Cream Pie
2 egg yolks
6 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 c. sugar
6 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. lemon zest
1 3/4 c. pecans
¼ c. sugar
¼ c. unsalted butter, melted
3 c. vanilla ice cream, softened
4 egg whites
Pinch cream of tarter
6 tbsp. sugar
1. Begin with curd. Whisk eggs and egg yolks in a medium bowl and set it to the side of your stove.
2. Prepare your double boiler (using a glass or metal bowl/pan set on top of a slightly larger saucepan. Saucepan should have 2 inches of simmering water in it, and the top bowl shouldn’t be touching the water).
3. In the top of the double boiler, place butter, sugar, lemon juice, zest and salt. Stir until butter melts and then whisk until sugar is no longer grainy and mixture is smooth.
4. Very slowly pour the hot mixture into the eggs, whisking constantly. Begin with just a drizzle as you whisk.
5. Once the two mixtures are combined, return to the double boiler. Whisk about 10 minutes until mixture thickens.
6. Transfer mixture to a small bowl and press plastic wrap onto the surface. Refrigerate for an hour or until no longer warm.
7. Meanwhile, prepare crust. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
8. Place nuts and sugar in the food processor and pulse until evenly ground but not powdery. Add melted butter and pulse three or four times or until evenly distributed. Transfer mixture to pie plate.
9. Press into pie pan, evenly on the bottom and up the sides. Bake for 12 minutes.
10. Cool crust about 15 minutes and then freeze for 30 minutes.
11. Spread frozen crust with 3 c. vanilla ice cream (just on the bottom – not up sides). Refreeze. Top with chilled lemon curd, spreading evenly (about 1/2 inch of the crust should still be visible around the edges). Place in freezer, uncovered.
12. For meringue, place egg whites in a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of standing mixer. Using a whisk attachment on electric mixer, begin to beat whites at a medium high speed
13. When whites are frothy and beginning to thicken, add pinch of cream of tarter and slowly add sugar with mixer running. Beat until voluminous, smooth and bright white. When you lift the whisk the mixture should come to a stiff peak.
14. Transfer meringue to pie and smooth across the surface, making sure it touches the crust. Using the back of a spoon, mash and pull away to create spikes. Refreeze until ready to serve, uncovered.
15. Preheat broiler and take pie out to soften, about five minutes before placing it in the oven. Place pie under broiler and broil, watching carefully, until meringue turns golden brown. Remove from oven and serve.