Breaking Tradition

Posted: December 3, 2010 | Author: Alyssa | Filed under: Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

I love Thanksgiving.  It gives me an excuse to do two of my favority things: cook for others and eat.  I couldn’t ask for more! Of course, I don’t really get down with all of the traditional Thanksgiving foods.  I’m not a fan of sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie is probably one of my least favorite things ever.  I like pumpkin, but not when it is super dense, sweetened and from a can.  So this year I decided to go in a different direction.  I felt this was appropriate as this Thanksgiving was a little different than previous years.  Normally we are at my parents house with one sister and her family, and this year we were at my other sister’s house with her family.  So I was feeling a little non traditional to begin with. 

I had seen this recipe for brownsugar merigue pie in my Southern Cooking book, but seeing as its normally just me, I’m not really in the business of making pies on a regular basis.  So Thanksgiving was a great time to try this out without ending up eating it all myself. 

On the morning of Thanksgiving day, I got to work.  This pie has two separate components, but there is some overlap so preparation and planning are KEY.  It takes some work and makes a bit of a mess, but trust me, it is totally worth it!

Start by blind baking a 9″ crust. 

For the filling:

  • 1  cup  firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3  cup  cornstarch
  • 1/8  teaspoon  salt
  • 2  cups  half-and-half
  • 4  egg yolks (lightly beaten)
  • 2  teaspoons  vanilla extract
  • 1/4  cup  butter, cut into pieces
  • Put the brown sugar, corn starch and salt in a medium saucepan.  Stir in the half and half while cooking it over medium heat.  Stir it continually until it boils and thickens.  Once it thickens, let it boil for about two minutes while you beat the egg yolks.  Remove the pan from the heat and pour about 1/4 of the mixture into the yolks, beating them constantly.  Then pour the egg mixture back into the pan again, stirring constantly.  Put the pan back on the heat and cook for a few minutes while continually stirring (this pie is also a good arm work out).  Remove it from the heat and then stir in the butter and vanilla.  Set that off to the side while you make the meringue.  You may want to cover it because, as with most puddings and custards it tends to get a little solid on top if it cools uncovered. 

    For the meringue:

  • 3/4  cup  firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2/3  cup  granulated sugar
  • 6  tablespoons  water
  • 5  egg whites
  • 1/2  teaspoon  cream of tartar
  • Combine water, sugar and brown sugar in medium saucepan and cook over medium heat stirring constantly until the sugar has fully dissolved.  Bring it to a boil and cook it until it reaches 250 degrees. You have to stir it regularly, but not constantly.  If you have a candy thermometer this is firm ball stage.  If you are like most home cooks and don’t have a candy thermometer here is what you can do.  When you think its at the right stage, take a small spoonfull and drop it into cold water.  Let it sit for about 30 seconds and then pull it out.  Once it forms a firm, yet pliable ball then it is good to go.  **Sometime around this stage you should start preheating the oven to 375, that way you don’t have to wait once everything is put together. 

    While the syrup is cooking, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until it forms soft peaks.  I used a hand mixer which made it more difficult to work simultaneously with the syrup and the egg whites, so if you have a stand mixer use it!  Pour the syrup slowly into the egg whites while beating on high until it forms stiff peaks.  It should still look smooth and shiny.  If it starts to look chunky or curdled, you have beaten it too much. 

    Pour the filling into the pie crust and spread evenly.  Top with the meringue in dollops (I know, I hate that word too but its the best I’ve got right now) and spread to the edges.  Make sure you ‘seal’ the edges along the crust.  Bake for 9 minutes, just until the meringue is golden brown and delicious looking. 


    2 Comments on “Breaking Tradition”

    1. 1 jim said at 11:32 pm on January 6, 2011:

      i like it

    2. 2 johnny said at 12:24 pm on January 12, 2011:

      like me

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    Johanna: The Improviser

    Never quite follows the recipe. Doesn't really measure. Tastes with her fingers. Somehow, it always works.

    Alyssa: The Triple Threat

    Can do it all. And modest to boot.

    Bakezilla: We Use Mixers Too

    She likes to bake. Actually, baking is the only thing she does. It's a passion.

    Rita: The Kosher Chick

    Restrictions have nothing on her.