Back in the days of grade school, making friends was a piece of cake. You just look at the kid next to you in class and say "wanna play?" Even in college, it sort of the same thing. You just knocked on the door of the room next to yours and say, "wanna go get some food?" Then you grow up and get married and it seems so hard to meet people that both of you like.
Dave and I have been fortunate enough to find a few such couples that we absolutely love to hang out with. One of these couples is welcoming a daughter into their lives in December and so a few of us hosted a baby shower at our house last weekend. My friend Denise proposed mini cupcakes because they are the perfect amount of frosting to cake and they are easy to eat. How right she is. I make these mini lemon meringue pies to go with the mini cupcakes. They are, in my humble opinion, almost the perfect way to eat lemon meringue pie. No filling squishing out all over after you cut the pie and no fork required.
Mini Lemon Meringue Piesmakes about 24 mini pies
1 9 inch store bought (or homemade) pie crust dough
Lemon Curd adapted slightly from Martha Stewart Cupcakes
8 egg yolks
2 full eggs
2 cups sugar
2/3 cups lemon juice (I like to use Real Lemon bottled lemon juice because I am lazy and don't like to squeeze lemons)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Grated zest of 2 lemons
In a medium large saucepan mix together sugar and egg yolks. Add in lemon juice and cook over medium heat until thick and coats the back of the spoon. Do not let it boil if you can help it, it will make the eggs in the curd curdle. Remove from heat. Strain the curd through a mesh strainer. Stir in vanilla and lemon zest. Cover with plastic wrap pressed directly onto the curd. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
Swiss Meringue adapted slightly from Martha Stewart Cupcakes
1 cup granulated sugar
4 egg whites
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Over a pan of simmering water, whisk together egg whites and granulated sugar until mixture reaches at least 145 degrees. Using the whisk attachment of the stand mixture, beat the egg white and sugar mixture until stiff peaks form. Add in vanilla and beat to combine. Don't be concerned if this takes a long time. The egg whites are cooling as they are being beaten.
To assemble the pies:
Unroll pie crust. Using a circular cookie cutter, cut out circles of pie crust about 3 inches in diameter (this size will vary depending on the size of your mini cupcake pan). If you do not have a circular cookie cutter, you can use a drinking glass about that size. You may need to reroll the pie crust to get more circles. Tuck the circles of dough into your mini muffin pan. Prick the dough on the bottom and sides with a fork. Bake crusts at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Allow to cool completely.
Once cooled, pop crusts out of pan. It will be easier to take them out now than when your whole pie is assembled. Spoon lemon curd into the pie shells. Pipe meringue on top of the lemon curd. I used a #21 Wilton tip. Using a creme brulee torch, lightly go over the meringue to brown it. If you do not have a creme brulee torch, you can put the pies on a cookie sheet and stick them in the oven under the boiler for like a minute. Pay very close attention if you do this. I had a friend set her whole lemon meringue pie on fire using this method.