Finished pie

Finished pie

In honor of Father’s Day I decided to do some real cooking.  I enjoyed cooking something that didn’t come from a box, but man I forgot what a mess it makes!   On the menu: Pecan Crusted Salmon, roasted potatoes, peas and for dessert-Coconut Cream Meringue Pie.  I always have a problem with meringue pies–weeping and beading.  Only once did I have a successful pie.  I found the recipe for Never-Fail Meringue at Allrecipes and decided to give it a try.  I will have to let you know tomorrow if it works.

Pie Crust Ingredients  (makes 2 10” pie crusts)

  • 2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 8 tablespoons ice cold water
  • Dry beans, any type.  I use black beans (using for pie weights)

Pie Crust Directions

In a bowl, combine flour and salt; cut in shortening until crumbly.

Shortening cut in

Gradually add water, tossing with a fork until all the flour is moistened and dough almost cleans side of bowl. Be sure to toss and not stir in the water.  You may need to use more or less water depending on the humidity of your room.

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Form into a ball and divide dough in half.  With floured rolling pin on a lightly floured surface, roll the dough 2 inches larger than the inverted pie pan.  I use a silpat mat and a silicon rolling pin so that I use minimal amounts of flour to roll the dough out. 

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Fold pastry into quarters & transfer pastry to pie plate. Unfold and create pastry edge.  I like to flute the edges.

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 Prick the bottom and sides thoroughly with a fork.  

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Line the dough with foil and pour in the beans until the bottom is covered and goes up the side a little. 

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Bake at 475° oven for about 5-6 minutes.  Remove foil & beans and continue until light golden brown, about another 5-6.  Cool crust.  OK, this is real-time baking–I burned the edges a bit.

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Flatten other dough ball, wrap in plastic wrap.  Put in ziplock and freeze for another pie.

Before starting the filling, you need to do step one of the meringue so that it can cool.

Coconut Cream Filling Ingredients 

  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups milk
  • 3 egg yolks, beaten *
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup shredded coconut

Filling Directions

*Cold eggs separate more easily than those at room temperature because the whites hold together better.  To separate the egg: crack the egg and hold the shell halves over a bowl.  Transfer the yolk back and forth between the halves, letting the white drop into the bowl.  Make sure the yolk does not break and that not a speck of yolk gets in the egg white or else the egg whites will not whip up properly for the meringue.  If you do get some yolk in the whites, fish it out with the egg shell, not your fingers.  It is a good idea to do one egg at a time, transferring the egg white to another bowl after you finish separating in case you have major yolkage in the whites.  Let the egg whites warm up to room temperature (70 degrees) before whipping for meringue.

SeparatingEggs

In a large saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Mix well, then slowly whisk in milk until smooth.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

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To temper the eggs, blend a small amount of hot mixture into egg yolks, blending well.  This is an important step so that the eggs do not cook upon contact with the hot milk mixture and form lumps.  Add yolk mixture to hot mixture, blending well.  Cook until mixture just begins to bubble, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.

Stir butter or margarine and vanilla extract into mixture. Add shredded coconut and mix thoroughly.  Keep hot while you make the meringue.

 

Never-Fail Meringue Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons cold water
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 egg whites
  • 6 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 pinch salt

Meringue Directions  

Blend cornstarch and cold water in a saucepan. Add boiling water, and cook until thick and clear. Cool completely.

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Copper, stainless-steel, or glass bowls work best for making meringues and should be clean, completely grease-free and dry.  Same for any utensils/beaters.  Beat egg whites till foamy.

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Gradually beat in sugar, beating on high speed until soft peaks form (peaks with tips that curl over when the beaters are lifted).  Add cornstartch mixture 1 tablespoon at a time.  Continue beating until stiff and glossy (forms peaks with tips that stand straight when the beaters are lifted).  Do not stop halfway to take a break.

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Add salt and vanilla, mixing well.

Pour hot cream filling into the baked crust.  The filling should be hot because it helps cook the bottom of the meringue.  Top with the meringue; be sure to spread to the edge of the crust to seal (helps to prevent shrinkage and weeping).  Bake at 350° F for 10 minutes.

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Refrigerate pie for at least 3 hours.

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Pie Filling Variations:

  • Butterscotch Cream Pie:  Substitute firmly packed brown sugar for white sugar.
  • Chocolate Cream Pie: Increase sugar to 1 Cup and add 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate to filling mixture before cooking.
  • Vanilla Cream Pie: Omit coconut.

TIP: Sweating, beading, weeping, or moisture droplets: When water seeps between the filling and the meringue, the pie is weeping. Weeping is a common problem with meringue pies, but it is avoidable. 

  • This is caused by over baking the meringue. When egg whites bake too long, they begin to tighten, squeezing out little drops of moisture.
     
  • Meringues will also weep if there’s any undissolved sugar. I like to use superfine sugar when making meringue because it dissolves faster than table sugar.
     
  • Over-baking also produces a tough meringue. Meringue needs to be cooked to 160 degrees F but not so long that they are overdone. Lower the oven heat and bake for a shorter time. Bake meringues just until they are light brown and dry to the touch. It can also be caused by under- or over-mixing, or too little sugar was used.
     
  • Also frequently occurs when beaten meringue is spooned onto a cool filling. Be sure to place the meringue on the filling while it is hot. The residual heat carried by the filling cooks the base of the meringue ever so slightly, making it less prone to leaking or shrinking.

P.S. UPDATE:  My pie did weep a bit but not as much as it used to.

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