Black Forest Meringue Pie

Black Forest cake's irresistible chocolate-cherry flavor duo gets a makeover in this stunning pie. Erin McDowell makes a fresh cherry filling, a quick-and-luscious dark-chocolate ganache, then shows us how to whip up a light-as-air French meringue topping.
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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 2 hr 30 min (includes cooling time)
  • Active: 50 min
  • Yield: One 9-inch pie
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Ingredients

Cherry Filling:

3 pounds cherries (preferably sour cherries), pitted, thawed if frozen

1 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Pie Crust:

Dough for 1 single-crust pie (homemade or store-bought), well chilled

1 cup finely chopped bittersweet or semisweet chocolate

1/3 cup heavy cream

Meringue:

4 large egg whites

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 cup granulated sugar

Large pinch fine sea salt

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

  1. For the filling: Place the cherries and 1/3 cup of the sugar in a large pot and stir well to combine. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and the cherries begin to soften and become juicy, 5 to 7 minutes.
  2. Whisk the remaining 2/3 cup sugar, cornstarch and salt together in a small bowl. Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the cherries and mix well to combine. Continue to cook until the mixture comes to a simmer, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla and almond extracts. Pour the mixture into a 9-by-13-inch pan to cool.
  3. For the pie crust: On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough until it is a circle about 1/4 inch thick and about 2 inches wider than the widest part of a 9-inch pie plate. Gently transfer the dough to the pie pan, lifting it at the edges to nudge it into the base and corners of the pie plate. If necessary, use scissors to trim off any excess dough so there's no more than about 1 inch all the way around the outer edge of the pie plate.
  4. Tuck the excess dough under the outer edge of the plate, then crimp the edge of the dough as desired. Dock the base and sides of the dough all over by pricking it with the tines of a fork, then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and place a rack in the lower third of the oven. Place the pie crust on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cut a piece of parchment paper into a circle slightly larger than the pie plate and place it over the crust. Fill with pie weights to the top edge of the pie plate. Bake until the crust just starts to brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove the pie weights and return the crust to the oven until the bottom appears dry and set, 2 to 3 minutes. Cool completely.
  6. Meanwhile, place the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. In a small pot, bring the cream to a boil over medium heat. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Let sit for 15 seconds undisturbed, then stir to combine—the ganache should be thick and smooth.
  7. Pour the ganache into the base of the cooled pie crust and spread into an even layer. Pour the cooled cherry filling on top of the chocolate and spread into an even layer. Transfer the pie to the oven and bake until the filling bubbles and the crust is deeply golden, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool completely.
  8. Shortly before you're ready to serve the pie, make the meringue: Bring a medium pot with about 2 inches of water to a simmer over medium-low heat. Place a medium heatproof bowl on top of the pot. Whisk the egg whites, cream of tartar, sugar, salt and vanilla together in the bowl. Continue to heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture reaches 160 degrees F on a thermometer. You can use an electric hand mixer to whisk it while it's heating (this is faster), or you can transfer the heated mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment. Whip the mixture on medium-high speed until it reaches medium-firm peaks, 4 to 5 minutes.
  9. Pile the meringue on top of the cooled pie; spread some meringue to the edges, but keep it piled a bit higher in the middle. If desired, toast the meringue with a kitchen torch. 
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