Sweet and Sour Challenge

Classic recipes achieve their status not through crazy combinations or impossible techniques, but through simplicity. No one goes to their chocolate chip cookies for a change of pace, but for comfort. Knowing that each individual component will shine through and create a perfect harmony, excelling their individual flavors to make the sum even greater than its parts – That’s what give these old fashioned culinary staples a place in every cook’s repertoire. Instead of going off in uncharted territory as is typical with Daring Baker Challenges, this month’s chosen trial was to tackle well known and well loved dessert that any baker should have a handle on: Lemon meringue pie. Easy enough, so I thought, as I already had experience with veganizing all of the separate components before.

Charging ahead with enthusiasm, I couldn’t wait to put this one to bed. Crust, filling, topping, done! But one look at the crust recipe set off alarm bells in my head- All margarine, and no shortening? This thing will melt like a snowman in Florida! I feared. Still, there’s no arguing with the official method, and so I went by it just as recommended, taking out some extra insurance by going so far as to freeze the crust instead of merely chilling just prior to baking. Blissfully ignorant of the transformation occurring beneath the veil of tin foil for the first 30 minutes, I went about assembling the mise en place for the remainder of the pie, feeling as if I might perhaps be getting the hang of this stuff. Time came to remove the foil and brown the par-baked dough… And that’s when the disaster was revealed. There was no “crust” beneath the foil, at least not the traditional sort, as it had all dripped down the sides and puddled at the bottom of the pan, looking sad and shrunken, a shadow of it’s former self. Saddened by this turn of events but not the least bit surprised, out came the cookie cutters and I salvaged as much of the remaining dough as possible, resulting in 4 individual flat rounds. So they would be a bit untraditional in presentation, but this was the only failing of the recipe.

Everything else went without a hitch- Lemon curd was whipped up using the recipe found in my cookbook for the filling of the lemon poppy seed cupcakes, and dropped on top of the flaky, buttery rounds in generous dollops. The meringue, well, that’s still classified information my friends, but I’ll let you in on the secret soon… But it whipped up nice and fluffy without issue, and I pressed my luck by taking out the piping bag and attempting a more neat design. Squishing light, airy meringue into an unforgiving plastic bag and then squeezing it out of a small, rounded tip isn’t exactly the easiest operation, but somehow I still managed to apply it to the free-form pies without collapsing that temperamental foam. Finally, it was into the oven for one last burst of heat, and my impatience got the best of me so I yanked them out a few minutes early.  Just to brown the tops a bit more, I brought out the kitchen torch and gave them a touch more color.

And there you have it! Easy as… Well, you know. Since this was actually my first time ever making a lemon meringue pie, it was a joy to finally take it on, even if it didn’t end up in the pie’s classic shape. Despite all the troubles with the crust, it did prove to be incredibly flavorful and tender, yet flaky and strong enough to hold its toppings. Tart and sweet, smooth and creamy, I would be happy enough eating that lemon “curd” off of an old shoe, but when paired with that meringue… It’s like eating a lemony cloud on top of a biscuit.

My thanks go out to Jen for choosing this particular challenge for January. Now I can’t wait to see what’s on the agenda next!

75 thoughts on “Sweet and Sour Challenge

  1. What a great switch from the original pie crust to freeform tarts, even though that wasn’t your intention. Your pies do look wonderful and I am very impressed to think you veganized it all. Wow! Great job!

  2. What a beautiful swirl of meringue that is. You have me curious about that part now. Can’t wait to hear about how you did it.

  3. Such beautiful lemon curd and then, the most amazing looking meringue I have ever seen. When I was young I would eat lemon meringue pie as often as possible. I miss it so much on the holidays since becoming vegan. I hope you reveal the secret soon. I am drooling in anticipation! Thank you for sharing and being such an amazing daring baker!

  4. *floored* :O

    not only are those totally cuter as tarts than any pie, but just the idea of getting to taste meringue again is like a little dream come true! you will divulge the secret eventually, I hope!

  5. Are you sure that the reason the piecrust slumped was because it was made with margarine? I think it’s possible that it’s because you didn’t weight the pie shell with weights or dry beans, etc. which you must do when baking a piecrust “blind” (aka empty of filling) and which you don’t mention doing. Just a thought!

  6. Those are lovely – I can’t wait to hear the secret to vegan meringue (not because I’m vegan but because I would like to send some kind of meringue type cookie into my kids lunches for school and they have egg free classrooms.)

  7. Very cool~ it was my first lemon meringue too but I didn’t have the additional worry of making it vegan. I had the recipe to follow. Way to truly be a daring baker for this!

  8. Now that’s a Daring Baker… making free form tartlettes out of a less than stellar crust experience. Good for you!

  9. Very interesting. I wonder how you’ve done the meringue? Well, I guess I’ll have to wait to find out. But your tarts look good. Too bad the crust gave you a hard time, but if you hadn’t said anything, we never would have known. They look good enough to have been planned that way. :)

  10. See? Now that’s what mine were “supposed” to turn out like, but I overbaked them and got a crunchy meringue. Yours look so fun.

  11. Hannah, that looks gorgeous. I wonder if a whole one will fit in my mouth? I also wonder if I can just stop at having just one…. yummmm….


    Can’t wait to convince my wife to make some of these tarts.

    Thanks so much for sharing.

  13. Your pictures are amazing, as always. The tarts look fabulous – I wish I had done them instead of a big ol’ pie! Although mine would not have been half as cute as yours.

  14. Looking at the photos I thought: oh how clever, little cookie cutter bits. Reading the posts, I realize it wasn’t exactly a *plan* for them to come out that way, but you certainly did the best with it.

  15. Please, keep us in suspense no longer! I’ve always thought of meringue as perhaps the one “unveganizable” food. I can’t wait to find out how you cracked the recipe.

  16. Your meringues look marvelous! I had to do a double take at that one!

    Also, I was wondering – I am trying SO hard to make those vegan marshmallows. Same recipe you used, but I’m using telephone brand agar powder. I was wondering what kind of agar you use? I’ve tried three times and every time, I get marshmallow creme-ish liquid. I’m guessing it HAS to be what I am using or the amount I am using. I am doing a 1:1 replacement of powder. Thanks!

  17. What is that famous quote? Ah, yes. ‘Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.’

    These look decadently scrumptious. :)

  18. I can’t wait till you share the meringue recipe with us – it looks so good and i know that it’s now not too good to be true!

  19. Your free form tartelettes look like perfect little clouds of lemony goodness. I refuse to believe that you had to rescue anything! :) Awesome job!

  20. I have a suggestion (though it may be quite tongue-and-cheek) — you should put a PayPal link on your website with the recipe for the meringue as the purchased product!! I would pay millions for that (well, okay, maybe more like $20) but still, you have gold there my friend!

  21. Well, those are such cute little “salvaged” tarts! I wonder what makes some crusts shrink and others not? Hmmm! Nevertheless, this is a great job!

  22. SIGNS I HAVE USED YOUR COOKBOOK AN INCREDIBLE AMOUNT: When it’s sitting there with my other ones and i’m trying to decide to go with healthy or decadent and my kitten decides to voraciously lick the cover… I mean she’s really really into it… then again she just licked a dress that has been locked in the spare closet for years… and got angry when i told her no… Just thought I’d share that cute little tidbit… haha

  23. It is so incredibly impressive how you’re able to veganize something like this! And make it look so yummy. That’s too bad your crust didn’t turn out as you’d planned, but I think your little tarts are so cute!

  24. Wow! I would love to adapt this to my mother’s Christmas raspberry meringues, which I sorely miss.

    Are you planning to publish this recipe anytime soon?

  25. Hi, love the blog but you said you would let us in on the meringue recipe soon or at least publish it in a book. It’s been more than 2 years since this post.

  26. hey!
    as always, i’m a big fan of your recipes and (like the many who inquire, i’m sure) i’m curious about the progress of the meringue/macaron/souffle recipes! if they’re coming out in another book (which i would love, by the way), any details on the release? if not, any e-books planned? i’ve been in france for the past two months and these non-vegan macarons are taunting me, the little jerks…

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