Beer Meringue Pie
I have had many terrible ideas for pie in my life – durian pie, anyone? And I expected this to be one of the worst. Then again, I’ve also had some Guinness ice cream that was absolutely fantastic; it should be possible to replicate that experience in a pie.
American food shies away from bitterness in any form, and especially in dessert form. Dark chocolate is starting to weaken that taboo, though. Once you have decided that nibbling on eleventypercent cacao is an acceptable after-dinner activity, there is really no reason not to open the floodgates to all manner of bittersweet delights.
Turns out that the bitterness of hops and the complexity of a finished stout can anchor a cloud of sweet meringue. This pie sounds strange, but is actually fantastic.
- For the meringue:
- a small handful of hops
- 1 Tbps corn starch
- 1/2 c. sugar
- 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
- 4 egg whites
- For the filling:
- 1 bottle Guinness
- 6 egg yolks
- 1/4 c. corn starch
- 1 c. sugar
- pinch of salt
- dash cloves
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 2 Tbsp dark malt extract
- For the crust:
- 8-9 graham crackers
- 5 Tbsp. butter
- 2 Tbsp. dark malt extract
Boil the hops in 1/2-3/4 c. of water for 20 minutes. Line a colander with cheesecloth and pour the boiled hops through to strain; leave the left over mixture in the colander until it cools, then gather the cheesecloth and squeeze the remaining water out. Reserve the water and discard the solid hops.
For the crust: Zip the crackers and malt extract around in a food processor, then add the melted butter. Pulse until it has the texture of wet sand, and then pat it into the bottom of a pie pan. Cook it for 15 min. or so in a 325 ºF oven, then let it cool while you make the rest of the pie.
For the filling: Mix the sugar, corn starch, salt, cloves, malt, and 1 1/2 c. Guinness in a sauce pan. Cook over low heat, whisking intermittently, until it begins to thicken. Then whisk in the egg yolks, two at a time, another 1/2 c. Guinness (mixed with a bit of the hop tea if you want), and finally the butter. Bring to a simmer, then cover with plastic (to prevent a skin from forming) and remove from the heat.
For the meringue: Mix the sugar and cream of tartar together. Whisk together the corn starch and 1/3 c. of hop tea. Cook over medium heat, whisking, until the mixture simmers and turns translucent. Set it aside. Then, start whisking the eggs. When they are foamy, add the sugar and cream of tartar, a little bit at a time. When the mixture forms soft peaks, start adding the corn starch mixture, also a little bit at a time. Beat the meringue until it forms stiff peaks.
My meringue-making life became much simpler when I realized that the whisk attachment to our wimpy mixer will also fit in the electric drill.
Make sure that the filling is still hot when you are ready to add the meringue; you might want to put it over low heat while you finish beating. Pour the filling into the crust, and top it with the meringue, spreading from the outside of the crust in so that it does not shrink and leave gaps when it cooks.
Cook in a 325 ºF oven for 20-30 min, until the meringue is golden brown.