An ideal late-summer dessert

Entertaining

In meringue shell, lemon cream with raspberries is a hit

Entertaining

September 15, 2002|By Betty Rosbottom | Betty Rosbottom,Special to the Sun

For the past few weeks, plump, juicy, red raspberries have been the piece de resistance of our local farmer's market. Picked that very morning, the berries, packed in little wooden boxes, are irresistible.

I've used my market berries in several different desserts this year. They have been delicious folded into icy-cold lemon mousse parfaits and have made a distinctive appearance in a raspberry cheesecake, but my favorite creation has been an upside-down lemon meringue pie garnished with these crimson berries and drizzled with a fresh raspberry sauce. I have served the pie, which can be prepared several hours ahead, at a summer lunch to friends and am planning to use it to end a meal for out-of-town guests.

In this pie, the meringue finds itself in a new role -- on the bottom, as the crust instead of as a topping. The sweetened egg-white mixture is baked slowly in a low-temperature oven to form a pie shell, which is then filled with a tart lemon cream. Each slice is garnished with a mound of raspberries and drizzled with a sauce made of the pureed, sweetened fruit.

Distributed by the Los Angeles Times Syndicate International, a division of Tribune Media Services.

Upside-Down Lemon Meringue Pie With Raspberries

Makes 6 to 8 servings

MERINGUE SHELL:

butter, for greasing pie plate

1 tablespoon dry, unflavored bread crumbs

1/2 cup egg whites (about 4 whites from large eggs; reserve yolks for filling), preferably at room temperature

1 cup sugar

FILLING:

3 large thick-skinned lemons

4 egg yolks

1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) sugar

1 cup whipping cream

3 cups (1 1/2 pints) raspberries

Arrange oven rack at center position and preheat oven to 225 degrees. Butter 1 (9-inch) Pyrex pie plate and sprinkle bottom with bread crumbs.

Beat egg whites with electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form. Increase speed to high and continue to beat while slowly adding sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, 7 to 9 minutes total. When done, meringue should form very stiff peaks and mixture should be glossy.

With rubber spatula, spread meringue evenly over bottom and up sides of pie plate to form a shell. Using back of spoon, form a slight cavity. Remove any excess meringue from top edges with dampened paper towel. Place in oven and bake 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until meringue is very crisp. (You can test meringue by checking top edges of shell and the center to see if they are crisp.) Remove and cool to room temperature.

To prepare filling, grate enough zest from lemons to yield 1 tablespoon and set aside. Juice lemons to yield 1/3 cup for filling plus 1 tablespoon for raspberry sauce.

Place egg yolks, 6 tablespoons of the sugar, 1/3 cup lemon juice and all of the lemon zest in heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture coats back of a spoon and is very thick, about 5 minutes. Transfer to nonreactive mixing bowl and cool to room temperature.

Whip cream on high speed until firm. Remove 1/3 cup of the cream and stir into the lemon filling to lighten it. Fold remaining cream into mixture. Fill shell with filling and refrigerate, uncovered, 2 to 3 hours or longer, until set and firm. (Tart can be made 1 day ahead, but is best when made and served the same day.)

Place 1 cup of the raspberries, remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and remaining 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice in food processor or blender. Process until mixture is completely pureed, then strain through a fine mesh strainer.

To serve, cut pie into 6 to 8 slices and serve each slice with some fresh raspberries on the side. Drizzle each serving with a little sauce.

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