Pre-bake a 9″ pie shell until golden, and cool it.
Preheat oven to 400F, and read ALL of these directions before proceeding. You will need 3 eggs, carefully separated into yolks and whites; it is of extreme importance that no trace of yolk gets into the whites, or the whites will not stiffen up properly.
In a saucepan, combine:
- ½ cup cornstarch
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
Gradually whisk in:
- 3 cups water
Put saucepan on stovetop, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened. Cover and cook for 2 minutes longer, stirring occasionally.
Whisk a small amount of the hot mixture into:
- 3 slightly beaten egg yolks
Whisk in a little more of the hot mixture, then, blend the yolk mixture into the remaining hot mixture in the saucepan*. Continue to cook for one minute longer, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat and blend in:
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind (from two lemons)
- ½ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (from two lemons)
Cool to lukewarm and turn into prepared pie shell.
Into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, place:
- 3 egg whites
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- (I have read recently that 1 + 1/2 teaspoons of cornstarch will prevent the meringue from “weeping”)
Whip on high speed until frothy. With the mixer still running, slowly add:
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
Beat until the meringue is thick and shiny, approximately two minutes. (Whisk in corn starch, if using)
Immediately spread onto the pie, making sure to touch it to the edges (it will shrink back if you don’t). Put the pie into the 400F oven for about 5 minutes, or until the meringue is golden. Let the pie cool to room temperature before cutting.
*Note: You can add 2 teaspoons of the lemon zest when you add the egg yolks, reserving 1 teaspoon. After removing the mixture from the heat, pass it through a sieve, then stir in the remaining 1 teaspoon of zest and the remaining ingredients. This will result in a “smoother” filling.