Lemon Meringue Cupid
I love my mother’s lemon meringue pie. The problem is it must be all eaten immediately in one sitting or the crust gets soggy from the filling and our family just can’t seem to eat that much pie that fast. Our solution was to develop a new recipe that uses the same basis but is made in individual servings rather than whole pies at a time. Thus the evolution of Cupids.
Because they are individual servings they’re ideal for pot-lucks. We make the meringues, custard and whipped cream up ahead of time and keep the ingredients separate. This keeps the meringues crisp and delectable. Then on the buffet we simply put out the components and people make their own, thus getting the freshest possible pie. Any left over, which there is at home but never at a pot-luck, is still good and can be savored another day.
The base, the crust of the Cupid is a meringue. Meringues are super simple to make. They consist of egg whites, a little sugar and a dash of cream of tarter to help the egg whites froth and hold their air. The rest is air. A lot of air! In fact meringues are mostly air and protein so feel no guilt when consuming them! Heck, there’s a lot of air in the filling and the whipped cream as well.
To make the meringues separate the eggs yokes from the whites. Set aside the yokes because you’ll use them later. Put the whites in a clean, dry bowl, add a dash of cream of tarter and beat with dry beaters until they begin to peak. Add about a table spoon of sugar per egg used and continue to beat until the whites are form stiff dry peaks.
Using a large spoon, place dollops of foamed egg white onto parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Create a depression in the center of each meringue so it can hold the filling to come.
The meringues are dried in an oven at about 250°F for about an hour and a half. After they are done, take them out, let them cool for a few minutes and then remove them from the parchment paper. A steel spatula or thin bladed knife works well although they may just come off by hand. Immediately store them away in a tightly sealed glass container. Plastic storage containers are not as good as glass because the plastic is partially permeable to water vapor. We place our meringues in clean one gallon wide mouthed pickle jars with tight fitting lids. They keep in there for months, provided one can resist eating them!
Note: it is easier to make meringues when the weather is dry. A very humid day can make the process difficult and the results less than desirable creating poor peaks and sticky meringues rather than the crisp cookies you should get.
4 egg whites (place the egg yolks into a small sauce pan. You will use them to make the lemon filling.)
1/4 tsp cream of tarter
1/4 cup sugar
2 cookie sheets covered with parchment paper
Preheat oven to 250
Beat egg whites and cream of tarter until they begin to stiffen. Slowly add the sugar. When the egg whites peak, use a large spoon to dollop out cookies onto the parchment paper covered cookie sheets. Use the back of the spoon to create a slight depression in the middle of each cookie. If the cookies are too thin, they will break easily when you try to take them off of the sheet.
Bake at 250 for 1 1/2 hours
The meringue cookies will store for many weeks in a glass container with a tight lid. I put a drying packet in with the cookies to help keep them crisp.
Yoke! Yoke! Yoke! Yoke!
A cool thing about this recipe is that it uses all of the egg. The whites go into the meringues and the yokes go into the easy to make custard. All to many recipes use either the egg yoke or the white but not both.
In the photo above two of the yokes, the ones in the upper part of the photo, are from our chickens. The others are from store bought eggs as we were low on eggs (naughty chickens!) that day. It is interesting to note the difference between the eggs. The ones from our free ranging chickens are firmer (probably due to freshness) and darker (probably due to the grass and bugs they eat).
We have several variations on Cupids that we’ve come up with over the years including crickets and lady bugs. The basic idea is simple, turn a pie into an easy to make and serve single serving dessert. It’s perfect for making the day before and taking to pot-lucks, reunions and other gatherings. The recipe below is for the lemon version of the Cupids which is based on my mother’s lemon
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp dry lemon rind (optional)
1 pint of whipping cream (half goes into the filling and the other half is used as topping)
Mix all ingredients into a sauce pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until thickened to a custard-like consistency. Cool well. (I like to put ice water into a larger container and then place the sauce pan into the the cold bath. Rather like a double boiler, except for cooling.)
Beat 1 pint of whipping cream. Add sugar and vanilla to taste.
Mix 1/2 of the whipping cream and the chilled egg yolk mixture together. This completes the lemon filling which will keep well in the refrigerator for several days.
The remaining whipping cream tops your cupid creations.
While the chefs cooked and the cleanup crew did the dishes Ben performed the after dinner reading. This is a long time tradition in our family. It makes doing the dishes and cleanup fun and we gradually work our way through a variety of literature from classics family stories like Little House on the Prairie series to the more recent popular ones like Harry Potter series and the occasional humorous scientific writings.
Outdoors: 28°F/4°F Overcast
Farm House: 52°F/46°F
Tiny Cottage: 35°F/45°F