Some things really are better in small packages. These miniature pineapple-strawberry meringue pies have all the qualities I love in a dessert. Bright flavor, a combination of crisp crust and soft filling and an unabashedly cheerful demeanor. I’m a firm believer that desserts should not only taste great, but they should make people smile. I can still remember peeking out from behind the swinging doors at the first restaurant I worked in, dying for a glimpse of the diner’s faces. Their expressions of delight and that moment they took to marvel over the dessert before unleashing their forks was more than enough to keep the pastry staff going. These memories came flooding back when I made these miniature meringue pies for my family. My children were captivated by the meringue swirls and couldn’t contain their excitement when they took their first bites. Their oohhs and aahhs made me feel like a celebrity chef and reminded me why I love to bake and create. Claire and Patrick offer endless inspiration and will always be my favorite customers.
Pineapple-Strawberry Meringue Pies
- 1 recipe pineapple curd, chilled (see below)
- 1 recipe gluten-free pie crust, chilled (see below)
- 8 ounces fresh strawberries, washed and sliced thin
- 1 recipe meringue topping (see below)*
—> Let pie dough sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes. Press pie dough into small tart pans or miniature pie pans. Place the lined tart pans on a sheet pan and chill in refrigerator for 10-15 minutes.
—> Bake on center rack until golden brown. Time will vary depending on thickness of your crust and individual size of the tart pans you use. (I baked mine for about 12 minutes) Cool in pans, then remove pre-baked shells from their molds and arrange on a sheet pan.
—> Fill the pre-baked pie shells with the chilled pineapple curd, top with sliced strawberries. Set aside while you prepare your meringue topping.
—> Pipe the hot meringue topping onto the tops of the filled pies.*
—> Place the sheet pan of pies on a lower oven rack. Broil until the meringue is golden brown. This only takes 1-2 minutes depending on your oven! Watch them and don’t be tempted to step away from the oven.
The pie crust can be made the day before you plan to use it.
The pineapple curd can be made 1-2 days in advance.
These miniature pies are best when eaten directly after assembling. If you have leftovers, or need to make them a couple of hours in advance, keep in the fridge in an airtight container. The meringue topping will get sticky and gooey the longer you store them.
*Only make the meringue when you are completely ready to top the pie filling, brown and serve. Meringue doesn’t “hold” so you can’t make this ahead of time.
- 1 cup fresh (or canned) pineapple juice
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 2 whole eggs
- 2 yolks
- 2 Tablespoons arrowroot starch*
- ½ teaspoon finely grated orange zest
Combine all ingredients, except zest in a small saucepan. Whisk until thoroughly combined. Place pan over medium-low heat, stirring continuously with a heatproof spatula. (the eggs in the curd can easily overcook, so keep stirring). After about 8-10 minutes the mixture will thicken and coat the back of a spoon. Quickly remove from heat (especially if you are using arrowroot since continued cooking could cause the curd to thin out again) and gently stir in the orange zest. Pour into a glass bowl and press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the curd. Refrigerate. The curd will firm up as it cools, but I prefer a soft set curd, so if you want to increase the starch by one tablespoon, that would work too.
* Feel free to use cornstarch if you don’t need to avoid corn.
- 4 egg whites
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon of vanilla bean paste, or pulp from one vanilla bean
Combine all ingredients in a metal mixing bowl (that fits on your standing mixer). Set mixing bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, whisking constantly, until egg whites get foamy and feel hot to the touch. Remove from heat and immediately place on mixer with whisk attachment. Whisk on medium-high speed until whites are shiny, glossy and have doubled in volume. Remove from mixer and place in piping bag. Top pies with swirls of meringue. Brown the meringue under broiler until golden brown.
Gluten-Free Pie Crust
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose gluten-free flour mix (see my notes for the blend I use)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (or guar gum if you avoid corn)
- 8 Tablespoons non-hydrogenated shortening*, chilled
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
- 1 egg
- 1-2 Tablespoons ice water (if needed)
—>In a mixing bowl, whisk the dry ingredients (flour, salt, sugar and xanthan gum) to combine.
—>Cut shortening into dry ingredients using a pastry cutter, fork, or food processor (use short pulses to avoid over-mixing) until the mixture has pea-sized chunks and shortening is distributed.
—>In a small bowl, gently whisk the vinegar (or lemon juice) and egg until combined.
—>Add the egg mixture to dry ingredients, mixing with a spatula until dough just starts to come together. If the dough seems excessively dry and won’t hold together when a small fistful is squeezed, add a bit of the ice water now.
—>Turn dough out onto a clean, dry counter and begin pressing and kneading dough together so that it is a rough, but fairly cohesive mass. (Don’t get too carried away with the kneading because you don’t want to melt the shortening. 20-30 seconds only)
—>Place on plastic wrap, flatten into a disk, wrap well and chill for approximately one hour (or overnight).
—>When ready to work with the dough, let it warm up for about 10-12 minutes at room temperature so that it is flexible enough to work with.
*Feel free to use butter if you aren’t avoiding dairy.
*This recipe will yield one 9 inch pie crust or 10-12 miniature pies/tartlets