There's no traditional crust to fiddle with: no pre-chilling of ingredients, no cutting-in of butter, no watch-out-not-to-overmix handling of the dough, or careful lifting of the ornery rolled-out sheet as it falls to pieces just before hitting the pan.
No. Just a beater and some eggwhites - no worry of overmixing - you can whip the dickens out of those whites and they'll still be wonderful. You'll also need a spoon to plop and smooth the meringue into the pan.
Oh, and some . . . time. You'll need to plan ahead a few hours, but the oven does the work. While you wait you can nap, or have your nails done, or eat some chocolate. I think I can handle that.
The end result is a glorious combination of crispy caramelly light-as-air crust, sweet fresh strawberries, smooth voluptuous sour cream and, to echo those decadent caramel overtones, a sprinkling of crunchy, melty brown sugar. (I'm pretty sure caramelly and melty aren't actual words, but you get the picture?)
This pie is not only easy, it is TO. DIE. FOR. (No, wait, then I wouldn't be around to eat it!)
This pie is TO. LIVE. FOR. ! ! !
I got a basket of lovely fresh strawberries at the market and thought immediately of this tart. I used to make it often. It was my go-to dessert for fancy dinners when I wanted to impress guests, but I have neglected it lately. I don't know why (I seem to go through stages of making certain foods a lot, then forgetting about them when new loves come along - fickle me), because this is a pie worthy of keeping close and parading around often.
The fact that you can make it ahead is a real bonus when you are entertaining.
Kitchen Frau Note: For a corn allergy you can substitute 2 tablespoons potato starch for the cornstarch. It's important to make this pie in a pan with a removable bottom, or it will be too difficult to remove the pieces. To cut parchment to fit the pan, trace the removable bottom onto the parchment and cut out.
Strawberry Meringue Pie
adapted from a very old and grease-spattered Better Homes and Gardens Baking Ideas magazine, Winter 1983/84 (not sure where I found that one)
- 3 large egg whites, room temperature
- ¼ teaspoon (1.25ml) cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon (1.25ml) salt
- ½ cup (120ml) sugar
- ¾ cup (180ml) finely chopped pecans
- 6 cups (1.5l) medium-sized strawberries
- 1 cup (240ml) water
- ⅓ cup (80ml) sugar
- 3 tablespoons (45ml) cornstarch
- ½ cup (120ml) sour cream
- 1 to 2 tablespoons (15 to 30ml) milk
- a few tablespoons brown sugar for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Cut a rectangle of parchment paper to fit the inside of a 8"x11.5" rectangular tart pan with removable bottom or cut a circle of parchment to fit the inside of a 9½ or 10" springform pan. Butter, or spray with cooking spray, the sides of the pan you use, then line the bottom with the parchment paper.
Put egg whites, cream of tartar, vanilla and salt into the bowl of a mixer and beat until soft peaks form. Very gradually add in the ½ cup of sugar and continue beating until the mixture is stiff and glossy and the sugar is dissolved. Fold in the chopped pecans.
Bake for 1 hour, then turn off the oven, partially open the door and leave the tart shell to cool in the oven until the oven is cold, about 1 hour. If the crust is stuck to the edges of the pan, pull on the pan sides slightly to loosen them from the meringue.
Reserve 1 cup (240ml) of the smallest strawberries. Cut the remaining berries in half lengthwise, then stack them on top of the meringue shell partially upright, with the cut sides down.
To prepare the glaze: Finely chop the reserved strawberries, then place them into a small saucepan with the water. Bring them to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer them for 2 minutes. Strain the berries through a fine sieve, pushing gently on the mass with the back of a spoon to extract all the juice.
In a small saucepan combine the ⅓ cup sugar and the cornstarch, then stir in the sieved berry juice. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is clear and thickened. Quickly spoon the glaze over the berries, covering as many as you can and spreading it a bit to even it out. Chill the pie for at least 2 hours to allow the glaze to set and the crust to soften slightly.
Just before serving, combine the sour cream with enough milk to make it runny enough to pour. Drizzle the sour cream over the berries, leaving some of the berries showing through. Sprinkle brown sugar over the top. Cut into squares or wedges to serve.
Now, wasn't that easy?
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