For the pie crust
– makes 3 thinner crusts
For the lemon curd:
- 1 1/2 c Crisco vegetable shortening
- 3 c (12 oz) Better Batter All-Purpose Flour, plus more for flouring the rolling surface
- 1 egg
- 5 Tbl cold water
- 1 Tbl white vinegar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- cooking spray
For the meringue:
- zest and juice from 2 lemons, about 1/2 c juice total
- 3/4 c granulated sugar
- 1/4 c unsalted butter, or dairy-free alternative, room temperature
- 2 eggs (or 1/2 c water plus 2 tbsp Better Batter All-Purpose Flour, whisked together)
- pinch of salt
- 2 egg whites
- 5 Tbl granulated sugar
Plan ahead! The lemon curd and pie dough need time to chill. Make the components ahead of time then assemble just before serving. I was about to get 24 mini pie crusts cut to fill a 2-dozen mini muffin baking pan. Alternatively, make larger pie rounds (see note below) for using a standard muffin baking pan.
Make the lemon curd.
In the bowl of a stand mixer or using a large bowl and a handheld electric mixer, beat together the lemon zest and butter (or dairy-free alternative) until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and salt and beat well. Add the eggs one at a time (or the water and flour slurry in two parts) and then add the lemon juice. The mixture will look curdled. Transfer the curd mixture to a medium saucepan and place over medium-low heat. Whisk constantly as the curd comes to a gentle simmer and begins to thicken. Remove from the heat and pour into a bowl to cool. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface of the cooked lemon curd so a thick skin does not form. Chill for at least two hours. You will need approximately 15-20 oz of this lemon curd for the mini lemon meringue pies recipe.
Make the pie dough.
In a large bowl, gradually work the Crisco into the flour using a pastry cutter for about 3 or 4 minutes until it resembles coarse meal in texture. In a small bowl, beat an egg with a fork and then pour it into the flour-shortening mixture. Add 5 tablespoons of cold water, 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir together gently until all of the ingredients are incorporated. Separate the dough into thirds and roll into three balls, placing each dough ball into a large zip top bag. Using a rolling pin, slightly flatten each ball of dough (about ½ inch thick) to make rolling easier later. Seal the bags and place them in the freezer until you need them. If you will be using it immediately it’s still a good idea to put in the freezer for about 15 to 20 minutes to chill.
Preheat and prepare.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly spray a mini muffin pan (or standard muffin pan) with cooking spray. Set aside.
When you are ready to use the dough to make the mini crust, remove from the freezer and allow to thaw for 15 minutes. On a lightly floured surface, carefully roll the dough, starting at the center and working your way out. (Sprinkle some flour over top of the dough if it’s a bit too moist.) If the dough is sticking to the countertop use a metal spatula and carefully scrape it up and flip it over and continue rolling until it’s about 12-inches in diameter. Measure the diameter of your muffin pan and allow for at least 1/4 to 1/2-in overhang. In my case, for regular-muffin-sized pumpkin pies a 3 1/2-in metal cutter works perfectly. In this photo below I made mini-muffin-sized pies and a 2 3/4-in metal cutter was what filled the cups well. Use your cutter to cut out the specified number of rounds you need to fill the muffin pan. Lightly spray your pan and gently work the pie dough rounds into the pan, pushing from the center and against the edges. Be gently! Prick the bottom of your filled cups with a fork once or twice. Refrigerate until ready to fill and bake.
Bake the pie crusts 10-12 minutes for the mini size; 12-14 minutes for the standard size, or just until the crust begins to look completely baked through and barely beginning to brown on the edges. Remove from the oven and let cool completely in the pan placed on a wire rack. Increase oven to broil setting.
Make the meringue.
While the pie crusts are cooling, make this meringue to top your pies. The easiest way is to use a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Make sure your bowl and whisk are very clean, then beat the egg whites on high until soft peaks form, up to 5 minutes. Gradually add the granulated sugar and beat on high an additional 10 minutes or until still peaks form. The meringue will be be very glossy and thick. Scoop meringue into a zip top bag and cut one corner off to make a makeshift piping bag.
Pipe or scoop lemon curd into the baked pie shells by making a second makeshift piping bag. Pipe in a mound of curd to each mini crust. Top with a mound of meringue.
Place the assembled mini pies back into the oven. Be careful not to get distracted and walk away. These will take 1-2 minutes to lightly brown on top, so stay right by the oven and keep watch on them. Once the meringues have lightly browned and hardened a little, remove them from the oven and cool completely before serving. To speed the cooling process along, chill these broiled mini pies in the freezer for 5-10 minutes to help the lemon curd set up or in the refrigerator for up to 20 minutes. Makes 24 mini muffin-sized pies. Store leftovers in an airtight container.
Adapted from Port and Fin blog