My affinity towards ginger has continued to evolve over the years, but in a rollercoaster fashion. I grew up loving my mom’s ginger molasses cookies that she would make during her holiday baking every year, making sure to stash a couple extra before she gave them away to friends and family. But a couple years ago I tried a tiny portion of store bought candy crystallized ginger from a friend, and it took me half an hour to eat that thing simply because I was trying to get as little as possible in my mouth at a time. Thankfully she noticed my struggle, and graciously let me throw the rest out. From then on, I thought I hated ginger! But I hated that I hated it because, I mean, gingerbread men are so stinkin’ cute and I always envisioned that I would be eating them as I watched the snow fall outside once we moved to Minnesota. So, I figured I should give ginger one more try before I ruled it out forever. And boy am I glad that I did, because this gingerbread meringue pie has the coziness of gingerbread and snowfall without the overpowering crystalized ginger taste.
GINGERBREAD MERINGUE PIE
Makes an 8" pie
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray an 8” pie pan with nonstick spray, and set aside.
2. Using a food processor, crush to make:
2 cups Nilla, crumbs
3. Add and stir until well combined:
6 Tablespoons butter, melted
4. Press the crumbs into the pie pan, bringing it up the sides of the pan.
5. Bake the crust for 10 minutes or until the crust is golden in color. Remove from the oven and cool the crust completely.
1. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together:
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat and stir:
2 cups milk
3 Tablespoons molasses
3. Meanwhile, in a separate medium bowl whisk together until light in color:
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
4. Set aside the yolk mixture.
5. Whisk 1/2 of the hot milk mixture into the dry ingredients until the dry ingredients have dissolved. Pour this mixture back into the remaining 1/2 of the hot milk mixture. Continue whisking for 3-5 minutes over medium heat until thick with large bubbles.
6. Temper the yolks by slowly adding 1/3 of the hot mixture into the yolk mixture, while whisking continuously. Add an additional 1/3 of the hot mixture, and continue whisking until the bowl is warm to the touch. Slowly pour the mixture back into the remaining hot liquid in the saucepan, whisking continuously.
7. Whisk until just starts to boil. Remove from heat, and stir in:
1 teaspoon vanilla
8. Pour into your cooled, prepared pie crust. Cover the pie surface with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap down so it touches the surface of the hot pie filling (this will prevent a skin from forming on the surface of the pie filling). Place the pie in the refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight. The filling will become a custard-like consistency.
When you are ready to serve the pie, prepare the meringue. The entire meringue process should take 10-15 minutes.
1. Create a double boiler by filling a small saucepan a quarter of the way up with water. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. In a KitchenAid bowl, mixture together:
3 egg whites, room temperature
6 Tablespoons granulated sugar
2. Place the bowl over the saucepan, making sure it doesn’t come in direct contact with the water in the saucepan. Whisk the whites and sugar for a few minutes until the sugar has dissolved.
3. Remove the bowl from the double boiler set up, and whisk in:
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
4. Place the bowl in the KitchenAid mixer and using the whisk attachment, whisk the mixture on medium speed until it becomes foamy. Increase speed to high and continue whisking until stiff, glossy peaks form.
5. Preheat the broiler. Spread the meringue over the pie, creating decorative swirls and peaks with the back of the large spoon. Be sure to seal the meringue against the pie crust edges. Place the pie in the broiler for approximately 1 minute to brown the meringue. Be careful not to burn the meringue.
6. To serve the pie, run your knife under hot water and pat dry prior to cutting. The pie can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 day. Any longer and the meringue will begin to break down or weep.
Beading can form on the surface of your meringue from undissolved sugar granules. Avoid this by making sure all of the sugar has dissolved before whisking the mixture. Weeping can also happen if the meringue is unstable. This can occur if the eggs are old, or the egg whites are overbeaten. Refrigeration will also speed up the weeping process. The cream of tartar helps to stabilize the egg whites.