I’ve had this post bouncing around my brain for a few weeks now. I’ve also made this recipe a few times during those weeks trying to work out what I would consider ‘design flaws’. This is the introductory post on the topic – to be revisited once strawberries are in season! Are you wondering “what is heavenly pie or schaum torte?” Both are desserts and both are gluten free! (neither is low glycemic) The basis of each is Meringue. I feel that meringue is the one thing that really elevates the lowly egg white into a thing of beauty. Making a meringue is the basis for many wonderful things – a proper buttercream frosting, dessert souffles, angel food cake and the iconic lemon meringue pie.
Heavenly Pie – lemon meringue pie turned on it’s head! The crust is made of baked merigue shell, a light and fluffy filling of lemon curd and whipped cream topping
Schaum Torte – baked meringue with a gooey center and crisp exterior, topped with whipped cream and fruit (usually mascerated strawberries). [a traditional German dessert, very popular in Wisconsin]
Now that you’re acquainted, I’m going to focus on Heavenly Pie in this post. Schaum Torte will be revisited in May when fresh, local strawberries become available!
Heavenly Pie is made with a few simple ingredients – mainly eggs, lemons, sugar and cream. After separating the eggs to make the meringue, the yolks are used to make lemon curd for the filling. Simple. (Seriously, don’t let a curd intimidate you!)
4 eggs (separated)
2 lemons – zested and juiced
1+ 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 pint heavy whipping cream (get the good stuff)
Set your oven to 300F. Grease a pie plate (deep dish is best). Make sure you really coat the pan well, I use a coat of butter for this.
In a very clean, grease free mixing bowl, add in the egg whites, cream of tartar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Whip on medium high until the whites are foamy. Slowly add in 1 cup of sugar and continue to whip until the white are glossy and stiff. Spread the meringue into the pie plate and give it a little sweep on the inside to create a pie shell shape. Then run your finger around the outside edge to create a little space between the pie plate and the meringue ‘shell’. Bake for one hour at 300F, then turn off the oven and let it sit for 3 hours in the oven. The shell should be golden and will collapse a little to create your ‘crust’.
While the meringue is baking, you make the lemon curd. In a sauce pan combine the egg yolks, 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, lemon zest (at least one tablespoon) and the lemon juice (at least 3 tablespoons). Whisk the mixture continuously over medium low until it thickens to a runny curd like consistency. Use a fine mesh strainer to strain the curd of any lumps and zest. Cover with plastic wrap, directly on the surface of the curd so it doesn’t form a skin. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to assemble the pie.
To assemble (do this at least an hour before serving, the pie needs to rest in the refrigerator for an hour): Whip the pint of cream to soft verging on stiff peaks. (If you want to sweeten the whipped cream you could add a little sugar before whipping it -about 1/4 cup would do the trick) Take a dollop of the cream and stir it into the curd to lighten it. After that add in another 2 cups of the whipped cream and fold it all together to lighten the mixture. (when I say lighten – I mean by texture and thickness, not calorie content!) Spread the lemon curd/cream mix into the meringue shell. Top with the remaining whipped cream and spread attractively. Chill for at least one hour before serving.
This dessert does go fast! Everyone I’ve served it to over the past few weeks has always wanted a second helping before leaving the table, myself included. It does change in texture overnight, the meringue softens as it absorbs moisture – not a detriment, just a difference! I’ve toyed with the presentation a little. I made mini meringue shells once, they were cute. Here’s the thing: heavenly pie tastes better than it looks. I’ve tried making it look nicer, but really, the color palette is monotone and the filling is one note in texture. It’s the flavors and texture in your mouth that makes this pie amazing – simple as that. Schaum Torte, as you will learn in the next part of this “series” can be a little more contrived and therefore can be made to look more ‘lovely’.