Yield: one 9-inch pie
“Back to Baking”, pp. 266
As the fall is slowly transforming into winter and the cold air is making its way into our bones and homes, it is the perfect time to bake sweet, warm desserts to warm our hearts. And so came this vanilla toffee meringue pie. I frankly had forgotten what toffee is, so when I (re)discovered that it is essentially chewy caramel, I was very happy to try to make this recipe.
This pie started with the dairy- and egg-free pie crust, which was tricky to roll and place in the pie plate, but actually baked beautifully. The crust was still nice and flakey, which was a nice surprise. The toffee filling was fun to make and tasted lovely by itself. It is a distinctively caramel flavour, even if a bit more subtle, with a nice touch of vanilla. The meringue was fun to make as always, and I think this time I actually managed to whip it to the right consistency. I didn’t have a thermometer handy, but I estimated its doneness based on the time suggested in the recipe and it turned out fine. I must admit that I did not put the entirety of the Italian meringue atop the pie as it was already an impressive pile, so I put about 3/4 of it for a nice mound of cloudy sweetness. With this new (actually old, but new to me) oven of mine, I am still getting used to the temperatures and baking times, but for me it took more like 8 or so minutes to have the top of the meringue become lightly brown. I was worried about the meringue burning since there is a fine line between perfectly browned and burned, so I actually took it out a bit too early in fact, but I preferred not to risk it.
Nonetheless, after confirming that the individual components of the pie were tasty, it is safe to say that as a whole this pie is scrumptious. Nice vanilla and caramel flavours, cloudy meringue sweetness, chewy and airy textures – everything works very well together. This is a delicious pie. I went to bed at 2:30 am to finish making it and would do it again, that’s how good this pie is! I should definitely start making it earlier in the evening next time, but I have no regrets. Point to note is that this pie really does not last a long time in the fridge. I’m talking 2 days tops, probably. I’ve had mine in the fridge for more days than that and it still tastes good, but the meringue has deflated, the toffee filling has seeped out everywhere, thus making the bottom crust quite soggy. I made the mistake of not immediately taking a photograph of the end result since it was so late in the night, and at the point at which I took it the pie had started to loose its shape already. It definitely looked much better freshly assembled and out of the oven! I’m still eating the pie because it’s that good, but definitely aim to make this with the goal of devouring it in a couple of days. This should not be difficult of you have at least one friend to help you.
- ½ recipe Dairy-Free, Egg-Free Double-Crust Pie Dough
- 1 egg white
Ingredients for filling:
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 3 tablespoons water
- 2 ½ cups almond milk
- 6 egg yolks
- ⅓ cup pure maple syrup
- 6 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Ingredients for Italian Meringue:
- 5 egg whites, at room temperature
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- ¼ cup water
- On a lightly floured surface, roll lout the dough to ⅛ inch thick. Line a 9-inch pie shell with the dough, and trim and cinch the edges. Chill for 20 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the pie shell with aluminium foil and weigh it down with pie weights, rice or dried beans. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, then remove the foil and weights and bake for 10 to 12 more minutes, until the centre of the pie shell is dry and the edges are lightly browned. While the pie is hot from the oven, whisk the egg white to loosen it and brush this over the surface of the pie shell and allow to cool. This will create a barrier to prevent the crust from becoming soggy (no one likes a soggy bottom!).
- In a medium saucepot over high heat, bring the sugar, cream of tartar and water up to a boil. Without stirring, boil the sugar, uncovered, and occasionally brush the sides of the pot with water until the sugar turns a light amber colour, about 6 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the heat and whisk in 1 cup of the almond milk, watching out for the steam that rises. Return the pot to low heat and whisk in the remaining almond milk a little at a time until it has all been incorporated. If any caramelized sugar remains on the whisk, keep stirring until melted.
- Increase the heat of the caramel milk to medium. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, maple syrup, cornstarch and vanilla. Once simmering, slowly pour the caramel milk into the egg mixture while whisking. Pour the entire mixture back into the pot and whisk over medium heat until thickened and bubbling, about 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain into a bowl. Cover the custard with plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard and cool for 30 minutes. After this time, spoon the custard into the cooled pie shell and place the plastic wrap directly on the surface of the custard again and chill until just set, about 2 hours.
- For the meringue, preheat the oven to 375°F. Pull the chilled and filled pie out of the fridge for 30-40 minutes ahead of time to warm it up a little. Whip the egg whites with ¼ cup of sugar and the cream of tartar until the mixture holds a medium peak when the beaters are lifted. Place the remaining ¾ cup of sugar plus ¼ cup of water in a saucepot and bring to a boil. Without stirring, boil the sugar, occasionally brushing the sides of the pot with water, until it reaches 239°C, about 3 minutes.
- Carefully pour the hot sugar down the side of the bowl of whipped egg whites while whipping at medium-high speed, being careful to not pour the sugar directly onto the beaters. Whip the meringue at high speed until cooled, about 3 minutes.
- Scrape the meringue onto the centre of the toffee filling, and gently spread and swirl. Place the pie shell onto a baking sheet and bake for about 4-8 minutes, just until the meringue is lightly browned. Let the meringue cool to room temperature before chilling. The pie will last in the fridge for 2 days.