Chestnut Meringue Pie

"Chestnuts remind me of happy vacations in Europe - they're sold on so many street corners there," says Mory Thomas.

Total Time:
3 hr 5 min
Prep:
40 min
Inactive:
1 hr
Cook:
1 hr 25 min

Yield:
8 servings
Level:
Intermediate

Ingredients
  • For the crust:
  • 3/4 teaspoon fennel seeds (optional)
  • 8 ounces shortbread cookies (such as Lorna Doone; about 30 cookies)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • For the filling:
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled roasted chestnuts (sold in bags or jars)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped out
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs
  • For the meringue:
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 large egg whites
Directions
  • Make the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Toast the fennel seeds in a small dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Pulse the cookies in a food processor until finely ground. Add the fennel seeds and melted butter; pulse until moistened. Press the mixture evenly into the bottom and up the side of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake until lightly browned and set, about 8 minutes; let cool completely.

  • Make the filling: Combine the chestnuts, sugar, 1 cup heavy cream and the vanilla seeds and pod in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the cream is very thick and the chestnuts are softened, 25 to 30 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat; cook until it smells nutty and is golden brown, about 4 minutes. Discard the vanilla pod from the chestnut mixture; transfer the mixture to a food processor, add the browned butter and process until smooth. With the machine running, slowly add the remaining 1 1/2 cups heavy cream and the eggs; process until combined. Let stand until thickened and cooled, about 1 hour.

  • Carefully pour the filling into the crust (it will be full). Bake at 350 degrees F until the filling is set, about 45 minutes. Transfer to a rack and let cool completely.

  • Make the meringue: Bring a few inches of water to a boil in a large saucepan. Whisk the sugar, cream of tartar, salt and egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer. Set the bowl over the boiling water (don't let the bowl touch the water); continue whisking until the mixture is hot (135 degrees F) and the sugar dissolves, 2 to 3 minutes.

  • Transfer the bowl to the stand mixer; beat with the whisk attachment on medium-high speed until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Increase the speed to high and beat until stiff, thick and glossy, 2 to 3 more minutes. Spread the meringue on top of the pie. Toast with a kitchen torch.

  • Photograph by Ryan Liebe


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    This recipe is featured in:

    Thanksgiving Desserts: Pies and Beyond