Think this Italian Meringue Topped Chocolate Lime Pie looks too tricky to make? Wrong! So wrong! Its actually incredibly easy but I can’t lie; there are a couple of pieces of equipment that will help you. Read on to see just how easy it it…
Some of the best recipes take a little from here, a little from there, a little bit more from over there to end up with something new and amazing. Calling on Nigella Lawson (From Kitchen), Lorraine Pascale, and an Australian website for inspiration, and after several different incarnations, I am beyond chuffed with how this Meringue Topped Chocolate Lime Pie has come together. Its rich without being too rich, chocolatey without being too chocolatey, zingy without contorting your face and the holy grail in indulgent desserts; not too sweet.
I don’t tend to go through too many incarnations of my recipes before I write them up as I’m generally quite confident about amending and noting the changes as I go along. This was my first time making anything like this complicated and although I knew what I wanted to achieve, I didn’t have a great wealth of knowledge to draw on. I’ve rarely been terribly successful with basic meringue and I’d never tried to make an Italian Meringue before at all. And so I made at least 3 versions of this pie to make sure it was perfect!
I created this recipe as part of a sort of series of American inspired bakes including my Brownie Bottomed Chocolate Peanut Cheesecake, Sesame Bagels and Baked Banana, Pecan and Maple Oatmeal. At some point I intend to host a baking weekend for some of my friends using these recipes – just one more to develop then we’ll be good to go!
My first two attempts at making the chocolate base ended up being rock hard and almost inedible. Not baking it separately was the answer to the issue and I’ve ended up with a base that holds together incredibly well, has a great chocolate flavour but which yields perfectly.
My early attempts at making the Italian meringue were clearly hindered by my lack of sugar thermometer*. If you are more experienced in working with sugar than I, it perhaps wouldn’t have been an issue but as both of my first attempts split and my attempt using the thermometer was perfect, I’d highly recommend just getting one. They are not expensive. Pop it on your christmas/birthday list if needs be.
The other trick for a perfect meringue topping is to make sure that the main filling layer is totally cold before trying to top it otherwise the meringue will juts weep and melt all over the shop.
One of the main reasons that I loved making this Italian Meringue Topped Chocolate Lime Pie is that I got to use my didi blowtorch*! Any excuse to whack that bad boy out and I am there! Obviously you need to be careful when working with a hot naked flame – make sure its turned off properly when you’ve done, don’t put it down when still turned on, be careful where you’re waving it and whatever you do, do not toast your fingers!
Do have a look at my notes section below as there are a few other items of baking equipment that will make your life much easier when attempting this. If you need to buy anything, don’t worry, you’ll be using it again and again and again…
400g Dark Chocolate Digestive Biscuits
4 tbsp Cocoa Powder
5 Large Eggs
2 x 397g Tin of Condensed Milk
5 Limes for 240ml Lime Juice and 3 tbsp Zest
Italian Meringue Ingredients:
(5 Large Egg whites left over from the Filling)
250g Caster sugar
100ml Cold Water
¼ tsp Cream of Tartar
- The filling does need to be properly cool before adding the meringue topping. I made this the same day, gave the filling about an hour to cool on the counter, half an hour in the fridge then about another hour in the freezer. It did the trick and I was ready to go in just a few hours. Otherwise leaving it in the fridge overnight would be ideal.
- Don’t be worried about the meringue being uncooked. As you add the hot sugar mixture to the egg whites, it cooks them – they are not raw when you eat them!
- This recipe requires a deep 9″/23cm tin* – loose based would be preferable.
- I used my basic model Kenwood Stand Mixer* for all elements of this recipe – With the standard ‘K-Beater’ to break up the biscuits and make the filling and the whisk attachment to whip the meringue topping. You could equally use a hand electric whisk* – I again prefer a basic version.
- To get the most out of my limes I use a reamer – my favourite is this particularly pointy one from Typhoon*. You could alternatively squeeze by hand or use many of the other multitude of gadgets out there.
- The second lime related gadget I use is a fine Microplane grater*. They are not cheap – do go for the branded version – like GHD’s they’re the premium brand for a reason. Put it on the Christmas list like I did – you won’t regret it. Watch your fingers though!
- The first of two items that you will struggle to make the meringue topping without is a sugar thermometer*. I bought one for the recipe after having two unsuccessful attempts at doing it by eye – sugar-craft ain’t my thing folks. What I did learn from using the thermometer was that 121c is just after the clear sugar liquid starts to gain a slight golden tinge. Now I know that I could probably eyeball it – maybe you could give it a go!
- If you don’t have a piping bag or simply can’t be bothered, don’t panic. You can dollop the meringue on the top of the pie however you fancy – use the back of your spoon or spatula to create peaks. It will look great either way.
- The second almost essential item is a small blowtorch*. I’ve had mine for donkey’s years and every now and again it comes in invaluable. They’re not expensive and it is well worth investing. Don’t forget the lighter fluid* to refill it. Just be careful.
Line the base and sides of a loose-based deep-fill 23cm/9” tin with grease-proof paper.
Preheat the oven to 160c
Whizz 400g Dark Chocolate Digestive Biscuits with 4 tbsp Cocoa Powder in a food processor or blender until it is of a vaguely sandy consistency. If using a stand mixer, you may wish to use your fingers to break up and larger chunks remaining.
Melt 100g Butter in a small bowl (microwave) or pan (hob). Add the melted butter to the broken biscuits and and whizz again.
Tip the base mixture into the lined tin and press into the base and as far up the sides as you can manage.
Place in the fridge to chill whilst making the filling.
Separate 5 Large Eggs and put the egg yolks into a mixing bowl (I used the stand mixer again but it isn’t necessary). Put the whites aside for the time being.
Add 2 x 397g Tin of Condensed Milk to the egg yolks and whisk until well combined.
Zest two and and juice all 5 Limes. Add to the egg yolks. Stir for a minute to combine.
Put the crust-lined tin onto a baking sheet and pour in the filling.
Place the pie in the oven and bake for 10–15 minutes, until the filling is just set but has not changed in colour.
Leave to cool thoroughly in the fridge – at least several hours. The pie can then be removed from the tin and grease proof carefully peeled off before decorating.
To make the Italian meringue, first combine 220g Caster Sugar and 80ml Cold Water in a small pan. Stir over a low heat until the sugar dissolves then increase the heat to bring it to the boil.
Reduce heat to medium and brush down sides of pan with a clean, wet pastry brush to remove sugar crystals. Boil until syrup reaches 121°C, about 10-15 minutes. This is where you will ideally require your sugar thermometer.
Meanwhile, start whisking the reserved 5 reserved egg whites with 1/4 tsp Cream of Tartar, ideally in a stand mixer until soft peaks form.
Once the sugar syrup reaches temperature, with the motor running, gradually pour syrup into the whisked egg whites. Continue to whisk at medium speed until the meringue has cooled to room temperature and is thick and glossy, about 10-15 minutes.
Fill a disposable piping bag with the meringue mix and your choice of nozzle. Pipe the meringue onto the top of the chilled pie. You can use whatever design you like. I went with a star nozzle and worked my way in from the outside then adding more layers on top of that but working inwards to create a point. I have previously used a round nozzle.
Using a blowtorch, carefully and slowly caramelise the outside of the meringue to a light golden brown.
Let me know in the comments what you think!
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