Festive Lemon Meringue Pies
These festive, little Lemon Meringue Pies are made with a tangy vegan lemon curd, airy, snowman shaped vegan meringues, and flaky and buttery pie crust. A classic dessert with a fun twist, these cute pies are perfect for the festive season!
If you're looking for a vegan lemon meringue pie that's dairy-free, eggless and gelatine-free, this is it! I adore lemony desserts, and one of my favourites is lemon meringue pie, so I veganized this classic dessert and gave it a cute, festive twist by shaping the aquafaba meringues like little snowmen. I know that meringue can seem a little daunting to make, and even more so when it’s eggless, but I’m pleased to tell you that it’s surprising easy, and requires the most basic ingredients, most of which you'll probably already have at home :).
How do these Lemon Meringue Pies taste?
Flaky shortcrust pastry cases are filled with tart and creamy lemon curd and topped with sweet and crispy aquafaba meringues. The delicately sweet and buttery pastry is complimented perfectly by the tart and creamy filling and the crispy texture of the meringues.
What is Aquafaba?
If you’ve used canned legumes in your cooking, you will have already come across aquafaba. Aquafaba is basically the viscous water in which legumes such as chickpeas and cannellini beans have been cooked. Over the last few years, this amazing liquid has found its way into vegan cooking as it’s properties make it the perfect plant-based replacement for egg whites.
What type of aquafaba is best of making meringues?
The best aquafaba for making meringues is chickpea brine. I wouldn’t recommend using the aquafaba from other legumes as I haven’t tested them for this recipe and it’s likely they’ll change the colour and taste of the meringues.
How to store Lemon Meringue Pies
Baked meringues tend to absorb moisture from the air and become sticky, especially on humid days, so the best way to store them is to place them in an airtight container once they’ve cooled down completely. The pastry shells can be baked and filled with the lemon curd a day in advance, and then stored in the fridge, but I would suggest making the meringues a few hours before you’re planning on serving the pies to ensure they’re extra crisp and hold their shape. I should also highlight that the acidity in the lemon curd filling will cause the meringues to melt a little once they’ve come into contact with it, so I’d suggest placing the meringues onto the pies right before serving.
Can these lemon meringue pies be frozen?
They cannot be frozen as the meringue will melt in the freezer, However, you can make ahead the dough for the pie crust a month in advance and you can store that in the freezer separately.
Can I use store-bought shortcrust pastry for these Lemon Meringue Pies?
Yes, ready-to-roll shortcrust pastry can be used instead of making your own. If you want to save even more time, you could use a ready baked pastry crusts, but I promise you it won’t taste as good as a homemade pie crust.
What Tins to Use?
I'd recommend using a 12-cup muffin tray, but individual silicone muffin mould can also be used.
Lemon Meringue pie Ingredients:
Here’s everything you’ll need for this recipe – consider it your shopping list!
For the Shortcrust pastry:
Plain flour – Used to make the vegan shortcrust pastry. You could also use wholemeal flour.
Sugar – The caster sugar will give the shortcrust pastry a subtle sweetness. You could use granulated or icing sugar instead of caster sugar.
Vegan block butter – I used the Flora vegan butter block, but any plant-based butter will do. using a block butter will give the shortcrust pastry a light and crumbly texture. I wouldn’t recommend using margarine as it won’t create the same outcome.
Sunflower or Vegetable oil – I find that adding a bit of oil to the dough helps to give to shortcrust pastry a flaky texture.
For the vegan lemon curd:
Sugar - I've used caster sugar as it dissolves faster than granulated sugar. I've wouldn't recommend using fruit syrups as they'll darken the colour of the filling.
Lemon juice - The lemon juice helps to balance out the sweetness and also gives the filling that desired tartness.
Cornstarch - Cornstarch is used to set the filling.
Butter - I used the Flora vegan butter block, but any plant-based butter will do.
Almond milk: I’ve used almond milk, but any plant-based milk will do.
Turmeric: I’ve used a small amount of ground turmeric to give the lemon curd a vibrant yellow colour. The amount used will not add any flavour and it’s used purely for colour, if you don’t want to use turmeric, you can use yellow vegan fool colouring instead
For the Aquafaba Meringue:
Chickpea brine (aquafaba)- I’ve used the liquid from a can of chickpeas. Make sure that the chickpeas are in unsalted water, and If your chickpea liquid is has too much of a watery consistency, you will need to reduce it to concentrate the amount of protein. This is done by boiling the bean water in a saucepan. You will want to reduce the aquafaba until, when warm, it feels like slimy when rubbed between two fingers.
Sugar- The caster sugar give give the meringue it's sweetness and will help to stabilize it. You can you granulated or caster sugar.
Cream of tartar – Cream of tartar stabilizes the tiny bubbles in the aquafaba and it speeds up the whipping process and contributes to a stable, crispy meringue,
Vinegar- I’ve used white wine vinegar, but any colourless vinegar will do.
How to make Festive Lemon Meringue Pies
To make the shortcrust pastry, place the flour, sugar, salt, vegan butter, sunflower oil and 2-3 tbsp cold water in a large bowl & mix until the ingredients start to come together. Knead the dough for a few minutes until a smooth dough has formed. Cover the dough with cling film & place in fridge to chill for 15 mins.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/356°F/gas mark 4. Sprinkle some flour onto a clean surface and use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to about ½ cm thickness. Use a round cutter or a water glass with a diameter of about 9cm to cut out as many round pieces of dough. Re-roll the scrap pieces of dough and cut out more rounds until you have 12 pieces. Press one round into each muffin liner and push the base and edges down with your fingers.
Line the individual pastry cases with a piece of baking paper. To make it easier to remove the baking beans, make sure that the baking paper is large enough to extend out from the sides of the pastry cases. Fill the lined pastry cases with baking beans, and then place them in the oven to bake for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove the baking paper and baking beans, and bake for 3-5 more minutes until lightly golden. Remove the pastry from the oven and let them cool down for 10 minutes while you prepare the filling.
To make the vegan lemon curd, mix the cornstarch with the almond milk and add it to a saucepan along with the lemon juice, lemon zest, butter, sugar and turmeric, and simmer on a medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until the the filling starts to thicken to resemble a thick custard consistency. Make sure to whisk continually at this point to prevent any lumps from forming.
Pour the filling into the cooked pastry cases and leave them to cool completely, then place the pies into the fridge for around 1 hour or until the filling has set.
Preheat your oven to 180°C. Place the chickpea liquid into a large mixing bowl and using a hand mixer, whip until it becomes foamy. Add the cream of tartar and white wine vinegar into the bowl and continue to whip until white peaks start to form. Add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time while whipping at a medium speed. Keep whipping until glossy stiff peaks form.
Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Pipe the meringue mix into onto the parchment line tray to create 20 oval shapes to create the body of the snowmen and 20 smaller meringue rounds to create the head. (It’s a good idea to create more meringues than you need as not all of the will bake perfectly) Alternatively you can spoon to shape the meringue, but piping is much easier.
Place into the oven and bake at 180°C for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 120°C and bake for another 50 minutes. After 1 hour, switch the oven off but don’t open it as this can cause the meringues to crack. Leave the meringues to cool down completely inside the oven, for at least an hour. Once the meringues have cooled down completely, remove them from the oven. Use some white fondant or cake decorating glue to stick the head of the snowman onto the body (be gentle as the meringue is quite fragile), and decorate the snowman by piping on eyes, buttons and a nose, or you can use coloured fondant to create more detailed decorations.
Once you’re happy with how the meringue snowmen look, place one meringue snowman onto each lemon pie and serve right away.
Notes and Tips
Try to avoid making meringues in a humid environment. Meringues contain high quantities of sugar and sugar tends to attracts and retain moisture easily. In humid weather a meringue can turn soft and sticky fairly quickly.
Leave the meringues to cool down in the oven once you’ve switched it off. This is crucial as a sudden change in temperature can cause the meringues to crack.
Whip the meringues until you can hold the bowl upside down without the meringue peaks falling out.
Meringues cook best at a low temperature, so don’t feel tempted to increase the temperature when baking as this may cause the meringues to sink or crack.
Add the sugar slowly, one tablespoon at a time, while continuing to whip the mixture. This way, we prevent the aquafaba foam from collapsing.
Just like traditional meringues, vegan meringues have a tendency to attract water. This is a problem when storing meringues cause they'll quickly get soft and sticky. For a crispy texture, It’s best to eat your meringues on the same day or the following day. The best way to store them is to keep them away from humidity and to place them in an airtight container once they’ve cooled down completely.
I recommend using the gram measurements, rather than the cup conversions. When it comes to baking, accuracy is key, and cups conversions are never as accurate as grams.
For the best, crispy pastry, make sure that you don’t overwork the dough. Before rolling the dough out, place in the fridge to chill for 15 minutes.
When rolling out the dough, make sure to keep it about ½ cm thick – if the pastry is too thick, it won’t cook through, and it’ll be hard to slice.
Make sure your vegan butter and milk are chilled when preparing the shortcrust pastry as it’ll give it a crisper texture when baked.