Friday, May 4, 2012

Butterscotch Meringue Pie

I am a caramel person and a butterscotch person. They’re different but similar, but caramel is a little more photogenic. I accept that I’m not capable of making a butterscotch filling in its unfortunate color look good in a photo, but I won’t accept anything butterscotch that doesn’t taste great. I have a history with butterscotch puddings and pies. I've tried a few puddings that tasted as bad as they looked. And years ago, I attempted a butterscotch pie that left me completely disappointed. The filling was thin and runny, and once cut, the pie was useless. When I complained about this to my Mom, she mentioned that butterscotch pie was my Grandmother’s favorite. I had no idea. Grandma also loved meringue, and I didn’t previously know that either. Since Mom didn’t have Grandma’s recipe for a meringue-topped butterscotch pie, I became determined to find a good one. At last, that day has arrived. This pie is from Gesine Bullock-Prado’s new book Pie It Forward, and I received a review copy. This book is as fun to read as her last one, and the lighthearted nature of it makes you want to get baking and enjoy the results. It starts with a few different dough recipes and some great tips for working with dough and baking a perfect crust and then moves through sweet and savory pies and tarts. Going through the book, I kept longing for the start of different fruit seasons. There are gorgeous Blueberry Brown-Butter Tartlets, a Schwarzwald Tart that’s like a black forest cake in pie form, a German Apple Custard Tart, and a Buttermilk Peach Pie. One section is devoted to chocolate with a Fleur de Sel Caramel Almond Brownie Pie and Chocolate Orange Souffle Tartlets among others. At the end of the book, there are recipes for more challenging desserts involving multiple layers, fillings, jaconde sponges, and chocolate transfer sheets. They’re beautiful creations, and someday I’d love to try making the tall, striped Bee Sting with flavors of almond, chocolate, and honey.

When I spotted the Butterscotch Meringue Pie in the book, I knew I had to try that first. I have to tell you about the four parts of this pie because they were all fantastic. First, the crust was one of the flakiest I’ve ever made, and interestingly, it included some sweetened condensed milk which gave the dough great flavor. Then, after the crust was blind-baked, it was covered with a layer of caramel. I actually made the caramel twice because the first time I didn’t think it was dark enough. Gesine was kind enough to answer my question about the caramel being light in color on Twitter, and she suggested cooking it longer or to a higher temperature than noted in the recipe. The second time, I melted the sugar first and cooked it until amber in color, then added the butter and cream, and cooked the mixture while stirring until it reached 240 degrees F. That time, it was a good caramel color. After spreading the caramel in the pie crust, I couldn’t control the urge to sprinkle it with sea salt. Next came the butterscotch filling. It was a delicious custard of brown sugary butterscotch, and there’s really nothing you can do about its color. Butterscotch is always an unappealing, dull brown. That doesn’t matter here though considering that the filling was entirely covered by the meringue, and stop everything now if you have never made a brown sugar meringue. You must. It’s a pearly brownish color rather than a bright white, and the flavor is like fluffy, mild butterscotch. I swirled the meringue on top and torched it to a toasted brown. 

This was a decadent pie, and it was heaven for a butterscotch and caramel fan. I’m pretty sure it’s not exactly how my Grandma made her butterscotch pie, but I’m glad I’ve found such a great version to make for myself. And, now that berries and peaches are coming into season, I have more pies to bake. 

Butterscotch Meringue Pie 
Recipe re-printed with publisher’s permission from Pie It Forward
Makes 1 (9-inch, 23-cm pie)

For the crust: 
½ batch Simple Tart Dough (recipe below) 

For the caramel lining: 
1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar 
1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy cream 
2 tablespoons (28 g) unsalted butter 
1/2 teaspoon (3 g) salt 

For the filling: 
3/4 cup (165 g) dark brown sugar, firmly packed 
2 tablespoons (30 ml) vanilla bean paste 
1/4 cup (32 g) cornstarch 
4 egg yolks 1/2 teaspoon (3 g) salt 
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) whole milk, divided 
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) heavy cream 

For the assembly: 
1 cup (220 g) dark brown sugar, firmly packed 
4 egg whites 
pinch salt 

Procedure for the crust 
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 C). Roll the dough into a rough 11-inch (28 cm) round. Line a 9-inch (23 cm) pie plate with it and crimp the sides decoratively. Dock the bottom and freeze it for 20 minutes. 
2. Line the crust with parchment, fill it with pie weights or dried beans, and bake it for 15 minutes. Remove the parchment and pie weights. Bake the crust for 20 minutes more, or until it is golden brown and baked through. Set it aside to cool completely. 

Procedure for the caramel lining 
1. Combine the granulated sugar, cream, butter, and salt in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat and cook, stirring, until the sugar has melted. Clip on a candy thermometer and heat until the caramel reaches 240 degrees F (116 C), then allow it to cool completely. 

Procedure for the filling 
1. Whisk together the brown sugar, vanilla, cornstarch, egg yolks, salt, and ½ cup (120 ml) of the milk in a mixing bowl. 
2. Heat the remaining milk and the cream in a saucepan over medium heat until it comes to a simmer. Slowly pour the milk-cream mixture into the sugar mixture, whisking constantly until smooth. 
3. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook it over medium heat, whisking, until it thickens to the consistency of mayonnaise. Transfer the custard to a bowl, and cover the top with a piece of plastic wrap laid directly on the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Set aside to cool to room temperature. 

1. Pour the caramel into the cooled crust and smooth it along the bottom and sides, using a small offset spatula. Spoon the custard over the caramel and refrigerate the pie until the filling is cool and set. 
2. Begin making a meringue by combining the brown sugar and ½ cup (75 ml) water in a heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring until the sugar has melted. Attach a candy thermometer and heat the sugar mixture until it reaches 234 degrees F (112 C). 
3. While the sugar syrup is cooking, place the egg whites and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk until the egg whites are foamy. 4. Once the sugar syrup has reached temperature, turn the mixer to medium-low and pour the sugar along the inside of the bowl (not directly into the egg whites, to keep from scrambling the eggs). Increase the mixer speed to high and whisk until you achieve stiff peaks. 
5. Top the custard layer with the meringue, creating swirls and peaks with the back of a spoon. Gently brown the meringue with a kitchen torch. Do not use a broiler to brown the meringue, as this will melt the custard. 

Simple Tart Dough 
Makes 2 ½ pounds (1.2 kg) dough, enough for 3 to 4 (8- to 9-inch/20- to 23-cm) tarts or 12 to 16 mini tarts. 
(*Note: only one half batch of this dough is needed for the crust for the Butterscotch Meringue Pie) 

4 cups (500 g) all-purpose flour, cold 
2 cups (480 g) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled 
1 teaspoon (6 g) salt 
1/3 cup (75 ml) sweetened condensed milk 
1 egg, at room temperature, lightly beaten 

1. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment, pulse together the flour, butter, and salt until the mixture resembles cornmeal. 
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the condensed milk and egg. While pulsing, slowly pour this into the flour until the dough just comes together. 
3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gently turn over a few times until it is smooth, the dry ingredients have been completely integrated, and the dough holds together. Take care not to overwork it. 
4. Shape the dough into a loose circle, cover it with plastic wrap, and allow to rest in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes. 

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  1. I will never be able to look at a lemon meringue pie again - this is exceptional in taste, appearance and perfect actually :D

    Choc Chip Uru

  2. What a sensational pie creation! Love the beautiful meringue top.

  3. Very sinful! That pie must taste terrific.



  4. To me, all of those browns and tans of caramel and butterscotch are the most delicious. I've never made a brown sugar meringue, either, and yours looks fabulous. I wish I had a slice of that right now. I was thinking, what a great thing to have for breakfast. ;)

  5. This looks amazing! I have the cookbook, but haven't tried this pie yet. It has moved up to next on the list!

  6. What an absolutely beautiful pie...a real work of art that must taste incredible.

  7. This looks amazing Lisa. I love the colour of it! I think you've done a great job of piling that meringue onto the pie - looks awesome! I'm sure this must be a taste sensation. I love butterscotch and caramel too. And meringue as well! Great combo! xx

  8. This pie looks incredible! I would love to try it, but I'm also tempted by those fruit pies you mentioned. Yum!

  9. Wow Lisa... a real turner... very beautifully done..

  10. I love her first book and I'll bet this one is as magnificent as that one. The pie looks incredible (and funny thing, I just posted a caramel dessert).... now I need this book.

  11. This is gorgeous Lisa! I have three HUGE butterscotch fans in my house and they would go nuts over this pie.

  12. My mouth is watering! What a beautiful texture the meringue has. Super yummy :)

  13. What a delectable and gorgeous creation! I didn't even know you could make meringue with brown sugar! Love, love, love.

  14. What a beautiful pie, Lisa. I still haven't gathered the courage to do meringue pie at home, but I really should. Yours look beautiful.

  15. Oh my goodness! This looks incredible and the meringue looks so pretty.

  16. this is a SERIOUS pie, lisa! scratch-made butterscotch pie is high on my all-time favorites list, but i've never had one as decadent as this! plus, for me, it'd be whipped cream instead of meringue, making it even more over the top!

  17. Really good color on that meringue - gorgeous photos. And the recipe? Looks great! Nice, detailed post - I learned a lot. Thanks.

  18. I never baked a butterscotch pie myself and looking forward to try your recipe! Looks delicious!

  19. So gorgeous, Lisa! If eating with the eyes is any indication, I wouldn't mind this pie spending a lifetime on my hips. ;)

  20. I am more of a Chocolate person but would eat that beautiful dessert for sure!

  21. I LOVE butterscotch and caramel!

  22. Oh. My. God. Becky. Look at her PIE. Your pics, per usual, are gorgeous. I too am a caramel/butterscotch gal and don't think this flavor profile gets enough attention. Was this the pie you made the other weekend when you tweeted pics of crusts? Drooling...

    1. Alisa: This is indeed the crust that was tweeted.

  23. Lisa, you got me smiling right away... only a food blogger could say "caramel is more photogenic"

    your photos are beautiful, this meringue pie turned out like a masterpiece. I am also a butterscotch person all the way, one of my favorite flavors (in the sweet world)

  24. That's a beautiful pie, Lisa. But I confess what is interesting me is this: my mother used to make meringues, rather flattish ones, and she'd put lemon curd in some and a butterscotch mixture in the other. She topped it with a bit of whipped cream and we loved it when we were kids. Now the lemon curd one is simple to recreate, but my sister and I have worked for years trying to get the butterscotch right. It can't be pudding and it can't be sauce. Has to be in between. So I'm going to give it a try with your butterscotch filling and see if it works.
    The problem is: it's so fattening! :)

  25. Gorgeous, Lisa!! I adore butterscotch and caramel as well. I don't believe I've ever had butterscotch pie, though. I love all the unique recipes you post!

  26. Oh..just look at those twist and turns in the meringue..just gorgeous!

  27. I am now dying to try that brown sugar meringue. Sounds fabulous! And while brown may not be the most attractive color, your pie turned out quite pretty. Lovely, lovely looking meringue!

  28. Just can't resist the combination of butterscotch and caramel. An absolute stunner with the brown sugar meringue! Truly a dessert worthy of a celebration!

  29. I love butterscoth and this pi is awesome!!

  30. This does look decadent--but really good too. I've been curious about that book, you must be having fun with your copy!


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