When life gives you lemons... Make lemon meringue pies!
We can't think of a better summertime desert then these delicious bite-sized bundles of goodness. With a rich and tangy homemade lemon curd and a crumbly sweet crust, these are a lemon lovers dream.
The dish is complemented by a fluffy meringue, which you won’t even guess is vegan! In fact, olive oil is a hugely popular alternative in vegan recipes. Although beloved by all in savory dishes, olive oil is hugely underrated in cooking sweets. It is known for its ability to create longer-lasting desserts - which is why we have included it in this recipe!
This lemon dessert is a fun recipe to try out at home, as it includes ingredients that you may not have used before like aquafaba (chickpea water). Although it might be a slightly longer recipe, we promise you’ll love the process and end results of these creamy, dreamy Mini Vegan Lemon Meringue Pies!
Vegan Lemon Meringue Pies
180 g all-purpose flour, sifted
A pinch of salt
1 tablespoon confectioner's sugar
4 tablespoons olive oil
80 g / just over ½ cup cashews (soak in water overnight)
½ cup + 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
5 tablespoons maple syrup or sugar to taste
2 level teaspoons cornflour / cornstarch
Pinch of turmeric (for color, optional)
½ cup aquafaba / chickpea water
½ cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Combine sifted flour and confectioner' sugar in a large bowl. Add olive oil and rub it into the dry ingredients with your hands. Finally, add water – be careful, do it gradually – how much water you’ll need depends on how absorbent your flour is. Combine all the ingredients into a dough gently, but do not knead. Wrap it in a piece of cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 mins.
Remove the dough from the fridge and divide into 10 portions. Roll each portion out between two sheets of baking paper until you get a rough circle, about 2 mm in thickness. Place the rolled-out dough over the ramekin and gently line the inside of the ramekin with it. Trim the excess pastry with a sharp knife. Pierce the bottom of the ramekin with a fork a few times and put the first ramekin into the fridge. Repeat with the remaining ramekins/molds.
Chill all the pastry-lined ramekins in the fridge for about 60 mins. 45 min into pastry chilling time, preheat the oven to 175° C / 350° F. Line the pastry cases with pieces of baking paper and fill with baking beads or rice.
Blind bake the pastry for 20 mins, then remove the beads and bake for another 15 mins. Cool pastry cases down completely before filling them.
Rinse soaked cashews and place them in a blender with 150 ml of lemon juice and maple syrup if using. Blitz several times until you get a completely smooth liquid.
Pour cashew and lemon mixture into a small pot. Warm the mixture up gently stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn. If using sugar instead of maple syrup, add about 4 tablespoons of sugar into the pot and allow it to melt in. Taste the mixture and add more sugar if necessary – remember that you’ll probably want your curd to retain some tang to contrast with the sweet meringue nicely.
Mix 2 teaspoons of cornflour with 1 tablespoon of water in a small bowl and add this mixture to the warm lemon curd mixture. Bring the mixture to the boil gently (stirring the whole time) and allow it to bubble for two minutes to let it thicken (the mixture will thicken further as it cools).
Finally, add a pinch or two of turmeric to the warm mixture to give the curd a pale yellow color. Be very careful as I found that even as little as ¼ teaspoon will overpower the mixture! You can also skip this step if don’t have turmeric or don’t like it.
Wait until just before you are ready to assemble the pies. In a large, clean bowl (make sure there is no greasy residue, it is best to use a glass bowl for this) beat chickpea water with an electric whisk or use a stand mixer until you get stiff peaks. To test if whipped chickpea water is ready, gently turn the bowl upside down. If the mixture does not start sliding down, you can start adding sugar. Otherwise, keep on whipping until the mixture stays in the bowl when inverted.
Add sugar gradually, tablespoon by tablespoon, whipping well after each addition. By the time you’ve used up all your sugar the mixture should turn beautifully sticky and glossy – no different to an egg-based meringue, really.
Fill cool pastry cases with a generous amount of (cooled) lemon curd.
Pipe meringue on top using a piping bag or a clean ziplock (again needs to be completely grease-free) bag with a cut-off corner.
Toast the meringue under a hot oven grill. It will only take about 2 minutes but watch the pies like a hawk as they can go from light brown to burnt in seconds. They may also need rotating after a minute if your oven burns a bit hotter at the back as mine does. Alternatively, you can use a blow torch if you own one.
Let meringue pies stand for at least an hour after toasting the meringue so that it stabilizes. Consume on the day – I had some of mine the next day and they were still nice but definitely nicer on the day they were made