Preparation / Directions:
MAKES TOPPING FOR ONE 8- TO 10-INCH PIE
I love vanilla-flavored meringue on pies, so this is a generous six-egg recipe. I have incorporated Alice Medrich's technique from Chocolate and the Art of Low-Fat Desserts into my meringue recipe. I also include a little cornstarch for tenderness and prevention of shrinking.
What this recipe shows: Diluting egg whites with water and adding sugar will enable careful heating of the whites to 160(71C), the instant-kill temperature for salmonella.
Swollen starch added to the beaten whites produces a tender, smooth-cutting meringue that does not shrink or bead easily.
Meringue made with egg whites heated in this manner is an excellent stable meringue .
1. Stir the whites, water. cream of tartar. and sugar together well to break up the whites (try not to create foam since it cooks at a lower temperature) in a medium-size stainless-steel bowl. Heat 1 inch of water to a simmer in a medium skillet and turn the heat off. Run a cup of hot tap water, place an instant-read thermometer in it, and place it near the skillet. Place the metal bowl of egg white mixture in the skillet of hot water and scrape the bottom and the sides of the bowl constantly with a rubber spatula to prevent the whites from overheating. After 1 minute of constant scraping and stirring, remove the bowl of egg whites from the hot water and place the thermometer in the whites, tilting the bowl so that you have about 2 inches of white covering the thermometer stem. If the temperature is up to 160F (71C), beat until peaks form when the beater is lifted. If necessary, place the bowl of whites back in the hot water and scrape constantly in 15-second increments until the temperature reaches 160F (71C). Rinse the thermometer the hot water in the skillet (to kill salmonella) and replace in the cup of hot water after each use.
2. Sprinkle the cornstarch into a small saucepan, add the cool water, and let stand 1 minute. Then stir well. Bring the water and cornstarch to a boil, stirring constantly. The mixture will be thick and slightly cloudy. Let it cool for a couple of minutes, then whisk 1 to 2 tablespoons of the cornstarch mixture into the meringue and continue adding and beating in until all is incorporated. Whisk in the salt, vanilla, and any other desired flavoring such as lemon zest. Set aside while preparing the pie fillin