Gorgeous pie, isn’t it? It is absolutely heavenly to eat. And utterly exhausting to make. It took two days and many steps. So let’s call this a “Special Occasion” dessert. I think a wedding cake might be less work. Ok, now I’m just getting carried away.
This pie was on the most recent issue (August 2011) of Bon Appetit. And what do you know, I had just gotten a brand new kitchen torch! What are the chances?
I’m not a big pie person. I mean, I love to eat pies (who doesn’t?) but I don’t really love to make pies. I think it might be the dough. I don’t really like rolling out dough, but this dough was quite easy to roll out and easy to work with. It is mostly butter with just a wee bit of shortening (another chance to use my organic shortening!) to keep it flaky. And when it bakes, it actually tastes like a cookie! Love it! I made the dough the day before and baked it the next day.
Moving up…the compote. I reduced mine down to half a cup as directed, and I used a Pinot Noir but I thought it was still a bit too runny. So I soaked the berries (added a few blueberries since I was low on blackberries. Darn heat) in the wine sauce for a couple of hours, then strained out the berries adding only a bit of the sauce. I kept the rest of the wine sauce for another day.
Up next, the curd. This was delicious and pretty straight forward. I used key limes since that was all I had, plus added a bit of store bought (organic) lime juice since I didn’t have enough key limes to get a full cup. I made it the day before so it had plenty of time to chill. And for the cream, well, I like to put liqueur in my cream, so I added a bit of chambord, but I think grand marnier would work great too. Before whipping the cream, place your bowl in the freezer for 10 minutes or so. It will keep the cream cold so it whips better. I also used sheet gelatin, but that is just a personal preference and will have no affect on the final product.
Finally, the meringue. I’ve done meringue many times, but I still worry every time that I will mess it up. In truth, I think it is pretty hard to truly screw up a meringue. This one is Italian, so you beat the room temperature eggs first, and then add the hot sugar. If you’ve never done sugar like this, the key is Not To Stir. That’s right, just let it be. You can give it a slight swish when you first combine the ingredients, but then just leave it alone. If you don’t have a thermometer, never fear. You can check the temperature by first watching the bubbles. They will start to get smaller. As they start to get smaller, take a spoon and scoop out a tiny bit and put it in ice water. After it cools, try to form it into a little ball. If it holds it’s shape, it is ready! This is called the “soft ball stage.” And move quick at this point or you will have caramel. So you should already have your egg whites whipped and ready to go. Be careful to pour the sugar on the side and not onto the whip, otherwise sugar will go everywhere (and that might hurt!). Whip until the bowl is cool to the touch and the meringue holds its shape. Then “artfully” arrange on the pie.
And then if you have a torch, play with fire! If not, the oven will work too, just not as much fun.
Beware, the first piece will not be pretty. Heck, even the second piece wasn’t. I’m not the least bit surprised that BA had the whole pie picture and not a slice. But it doesn’t matter. It tastes amazing. Sweet, tart, crunchy, soft. Delicious.
Here’s the recipe, courtesy of Bon Appetit
- 1 cup fresh lime juice
- 3 large eggs
- 3 large egg yolks
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
- 3/4 cup chilled heavy cream
- 1 cup fruity red wine, such as Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 cups blackberries
- 1 Blind-Baked Pie Crust in a 9″ deep-dish glass or metal pie pan (see Master Pie Crust recipe)
- 3 large egg whites, room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons corn syrup
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup blackberries (about 1/2 pint)
Set a strainer over a medium bowl; set aside. Stir lime juice, eggs, egg yolks, and sugar together in another medium bowl. Set bowl over a large saucepan of gently simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water). Whisk until mixture has thickened, the whisk leaves a path when lifted from curd, and an instant-read thermometer registers 175°, about 15 minutes. Add butter to curd, one Tbsp. at a time, whisking to blend between additions. Strain curd into prepared bowl. Press plastic wrap directly onto surface of curd. Chill until cold, about 2 hours. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Refrigerate curd.
Sprinkle gelatin over 2 Tbsp. water in a small bowl; let stand until gelatin is soft, about 10 minutes. Using an electric mixer, beat cream until soft peaks form. Add gelatin mixture; continue beating cream until just before firm peaks form. Fold whipped cream into lime curd. Cover; chill.
Bring red wine, sugar, and 1/2 cup water to a simmer in a medium saucepan over high heat; reduce heat to medium and simmer until reduced to 1/2 cup, 20-25 minutes. Let cool. Add 3 cups berries; fold gently to coat.
Spread compote in an even layer over baked crust. Spoon lime curd over berries, smooth top, and chill for 1 hour.
If toasting meringue in oven, preheat oven to 450°. Place egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Beat whites in mixer until soft peaks form. Set aside. Stir sugar, corn syrup, and 1/4 cup water in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Attach a candy thermometer to side of pan. Increase heat to medium-high and boil without stirring, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush, until thermometer registers 238°, 6-8 minutes. Remove pan from heat.
Meanwhile, beat whites in mixer until soft peaks form. Beat in salt.
Slowly pour hot sugar syrup down side of bowl into whites and beat until meringue is firm and glossy. Continue beating until cool, about 4 minutes. Spoon meringue over lime curd, leaving a 1″ plain border, and sculpt decoratively. Tuck 1 cup berries in and around meringue.
Bake pie until meringue is toasted in spots, 3-5 minutes (or use a kitchen torch to brown). Chill for 30 minutes before serving. Do Ahead: Pie can be made 3 hours ahead. Keep chilled.