Pomegranate Winter Chiffon Meringue Pie

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Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Serves

    8 to 10

Appears in

The Baking Bible

By Rose Levy Beranbaum

Published 2014

  • About
Oven Temperature 200°F/90°C
Baking Time 2 hours 20 minutes to 2 hours 50 minutes for the meringue shell

When I was eleven, I had the enchanting experience of performing as a toy soldier in George Balanchine’s staging of the famous Christmastime ballet The Nutcracker. Every night, while waiting backstage for our curtain call, I watched another young ballerina snack on a fruit I had never seen before. This charming girl was eating a pomegranate (which her mother called a Chinese apple), one seed at a time, with delicate fingers that looked as if they were dancing a ballet of their own. It seemed so magical to me that ever since, I’ve enjoyed picking out the seeds and eating them one at a time the way she did. Still, I imagined that there must be a way to experience a pomegranate in a grander way. So at last I created a dessert worthy of the fruit’s beauty and compelling flavor. The pomegranate chiffon filling can also be poured into a glass and served as a mousse. The pomegranate glaze is most beautiful when piped, but it can also be drizzled on top of the filling. The arils, which are the individual pieces of the fruit coating the seeds, provide a lovely garnish.

Plan Ahead Let the crisp meringue pie shell or lemon cookie crust (see Variation) cool for 2 hours before adding the pomegranate chiffon mixture.

Ingredients

Crisp Meringue Pie Shell

VOLUME WEIGHT
4 large egg whites, at room temperature ½ cup (118 ml) 4.2 ounces 120 grams
cream of tartar ½ teaspoon . 1.6 grams
superfine sugar ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon 4 ounces 113 grams
powdered sugar 1 cup (lightly spooned into the cup and leveled off) 4 ounces 113 grams

White Chocolate Glaze

VOLUME WEIGHT
white chocolate containing cocoa butter, chopped . 8.2 ounces 232 grams
heavy cream ½ cup (118 ml) 4.1 ounces 116 grams

Special Equipment

One 9½ inch deep dish pie plate, bottom, sides, and rim coated with nonstick cooking spray and then coated with cornstarch | A large pastry bag fitted with a ½ inch star pastry tube or quart-size reclosable freezer bag with a ½ inch semicircle cut from one corner for the star tube

Method

Preheat the Oven

Twenty minutes or longer before baking, set an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 200°F/90°C.

Beat the Egg Whites into a Stiff Meringue

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk beater, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar on medium-low speed until foamy. Gradually raise the speed to medium-high and beat until soft peaks form when the beater is raised. Gradually beat in the superfine sugar until glossy and stiff peaks form when the beater is raised slowly.

Remove the mixer bowl from the stand and sift the powdered sugar over the meringue. Using a silicone spatula, gently fold the powdered sugar into the meringue, scraping the bottom of the bowl, until incorporated.

Pipe the Meringue Shell

Insert the star tube into the pastry or freezer bag and fill it with half of the meringue. Hold the bag in a vertical position (straight up and down) with the tube at least 1½ inches above the pan. To achieve the full height, the batter must be allowed to fall from the tube (not pressed against the pan).

Starting at the center of the pie plate, pipe a spiral coil to cover the bottom of the plate. To prevent gaps, let the spirals of meringue fall against the side, almost on top of the previous spirals. The weight of the meringue will cause them to fall perfectly into place. Continue piping until the coil has reached the sides of the plate.

Refill the bag with the remaining meringue. For the sides, pipe three single rings of meringue; the last ring should come just above the rim. Smooth the top edge of the meringue to form a level, ½ inch wide top edge. To reinforce where the sides and bottom coils meet and to prevent cracking, pipe a coil of meringue against the bottom side coil and smooth it with a spoon. Fill in any gaps in the meringue coils and smooth the surface with a spoon or small offset spatula. Alternatively, use a large spoon to spread a ½ inch thick layer of meringue over the bottom and sides of the plate. Smooth the top edge of the meringue to form a level top edge ½ inch wide.

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Pipe the Shell Border

Pipe the shells so that they are directly above the top of the meringue, resting slightly on the rim of the pan for support.

Hold the bag at a 45 to 90 degree angle with the end of the bag pointed toward you and the tube slightly above the top edge. Squeeze firmly, allowing the meringue to fan out. Then move the tube to the left, up and around, in a question-mark shape. Gradually relax the pressure as you pull the tube down to the right, forming a straight tail.

Continue the next shell as above, overlapping the tail of the previous shell. Continue piping shells around the edge of the meringue. Form the last shell’s tail to curve under the first shell.

Bake the Meringue Shell

Bake for 2 hours without opening the oven door to prevent cracking. The meringue should not be brown. To check for doneness, without removing the meringue from the oven, use the tip of a small sharp knife to dig out a little from the center. It can still be slightly sticky because it will continue to dry while cooling. If it is more than slightly sticky, continue to bake it, checking every 10 minutes, until it is done.

To prevent cracking, turn off the oven and prop open the oven door slightly with a wooden spoon handle. Let the meringue sit for 10 minutes. Then open the oven door completely and let the meringue sit for another 10 minutes. Remove it from the oven and place it on a countertop. Place a cake carrier dome or large bowl over the pie plate and cool the meringue for another 30 minutes.

If the meringue has severe cracks or any cracks that go through to the plate, use the white chocolate glaze to fill them. (Minor cracks are not a problem because the pomegranate chiffon mixture will not soften the meringue’s outer crust.)

Make the White Chocolate Glaze

Have ready a fine-mesh strainer suspended over a small glass bowl. Place the chopped white chocolate in another small bowl.

In a medium saucepan, heat the cream until it starts to simmer (or place it in a 4 cup microwavable measure with a spout and microwave for 1½ to 2 minutes). Remove it from the heat source and pour the cream over the white chocolate. Whisk the mixture until smooth and then press it through the strainer. Cool until warm to the touch.

Apply the White Chocolate Glaze

With a silicone pastry brush, brush the glaze onto the meringue shell to fill and cover any cracks that have developed. Let the glaze harden to room temperature before filling the meringue shell, about 30 minutes.

Release the Meringue Shell’s Sides

Once the meringue has cooled and any cracks have been filled, slip a small sharp knife underneath the shell border where it meets the rim of the pie plate. Then slip the knife between the meringue and the sides of the pan and, with an up and down motion while holding the knife firmly against the pan’s sides, carefully circle the pan to release the sides of the meringue shell.

Make the Pomegranate and Gelatin Mixture

See recipe.

Whip the Cream

With the hand-held mixer, starting on low speed and gradually raising the speed to medium-high as it thickens, whip the cream just until it mounds softly when dropped from a spoon. Scrape the whipped cream into the pomegranate mixture and, continuing with the whisk, gently fold it in until only a few streaks remain. Finish folding with a silicone spatula, reaching to the bottom to incorporate all of the pomegranate mixture. If the completed pomegranate mixture is not pink in color, add red food coloring and gently whisk to incorporate until you have achieved a uniform pink color (see Note).

Complete the Pie

Pour the filling into the prepared meringue shell or cookie crust (see Variation) and refrigerate it, uncovered, for a minimum of 1 hour, until the surface is set, before decorating with the optional pomegranate arils. (Covering it would soften the meringue shell.)

Make the Pomegranate

See recipe.

Make the Meringue No More Than 20 Minutes Before Using It

In a medium bowl, with the handheld mixer, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until foamy. Raise the speed to medium-high and beat until soft peaks form when the beaters are raised. Beat in the remaining ¼ cup/1.8 ounces/50 grams of sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form when the beaters are raised slowly.

Scrape the meringue into the pomegranate mixture and, using a balloon whisk, gently fold it in just until most of the meringue is incorporated.

Store

If using the meringue shell, refrigerated, 1 day; if using the cookie crust variation, refrigerated, 3 days; frozen, up to 3 weeks.

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