Photo by Yuki Sugiura
Italian meringue atop a tart, citrusy, creamy filling: what could be more glorious? Being the first to slice into this beauty is a true honour, so consider making it as a modern, alternative birthday cake for the meringue fan in your life. You can even pop white candles on top, for a chic minimalist look.
Makes a 24 cm (9 1/2 in) pie
- 300g (10 1/2oz) shortbread biscuits
- 75g (2 3/4oz) butter, melted
- 1 x 397g (14oz) can condensed milk
- 50g (1 3/4oz) caster sugar
- 4 large egg yolks (whites reserved for the meringue)
- Zest and juice of 3 unwaxed lemons (about 125ml/4fl oz juice)
- Zest and juice of 1 unwaxed lime (approx. 40ml/1 1/2fl oz)
- 300ml (1/2 pint) whipping cream
- 200g (7oz) caster sugar
- 75ml (2 1/2fl oz) water
- 4 large egg whites
Photo from Adobe Stock/Inga
- Line the base and sides of a 24cm (9 1/2 in) springform tin with baking parchment. Put the biscuits in a food processor and blitz to a fine crumb. Add the melted butter and continue to pulse until the mixture comes together and has the consistency of damp sand. Spoon the crumbs into the lined tin, press firmly in an even layer and put in the refrigerator for 40 minutes to firm up.
- Put the condensed milk, sugar, egg yolks, the lemon and lime zests and juices into a large bowl and set over a saucepan of gently simmering water. Heat the mixture for 8-10 minutes, stirring all the time with a wooden spoon. The yolks will cook in the warmth, but be careful not to overheat and scramble them. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Strain to remove the zest and any strands of egg. In a separate large bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks. Pour in the citrus mixture and carefully fold together, trying not to lose the volume of the cream. Pour the mixture over the cooled biscuit base and freeze overnight.
- For the meringue, put the sugar and water into a heavy-based saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring occasionally. Keep a bowl of water and a heatproof pastry brush handy so you can brush down the sides of the pan with water to dislodge any sugar crystals that stick. The syrup is ready when it reaches 115 degrees Celsius (240 degrees Fahrenheit) on a sugar thermometer or when a little dropped into a glass of cold water forms a firm ball. Remove from the heat.
- Meanwhile, whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks using an electric whisk. Working as fast as possible, pour the hot syrup onto the whites in three stages, whisking after each addition. Keep whisking until the mixture is cool. The meringue should be stiff and shiny.
- Remove the base from the freezer, unmould and dollop the meringue over the pie. Flash under a hot grill for 2-3 minutes or brown using a cook's blowtorch just before serving.