Tea parties always conjure thoughts of pretty table settings, fine china, and small bites. It’s true that most of the items served at traditional tea parties are small, and that’s for good reason. These kinds of get-togethers are meant to be a break from the day, where people come together to visit with each other and relax. Serving small bites allows guests to take as much, or as little, as they want and eat casually, without impeding the conversation.
Lemon meringue pie has always been a great accompaniment to a steaming cup of tea, however the bulky size of a whole pie, cutting slices, and serving it with mounds of messy meringue never seemed to fall in line with the ease and grace of the traditional tea party we’ve already described.
We decided to change all that with these beautiful mini lemon meringue bites. They are small enough to eat in one bite but still pack all of the amazing flavor of the full sized version — and even a bit of crunch in the graham cracker crust. The vibrant color of the filling and white meringue with a just-barely-browned top is a perfectly beautiful, and less messy, option to a traditionally sized pie.
For this particular recipe we made them in mini muffin tins, but you could make them in a medium sized muffin tin for a two to three bite option if you chose. There would also be a bit more room for garnishes in a slightly larger pie, if you are interested in making them a little more fancy. We also opted to serve them outside of the paper shells, which can make them a little sticky to handle but allows guests to really see the bright yellow color of the filling, adding a bright touch to any table setting.
Lemon Meringues Bites
For the crust:
- 2 cups crushed graham cracker
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
For the filling:
- zest from 2 lemons
- juice from 2 to 3 lemons (about 1/2 cup)
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup cornstarch
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
For the meringue:
- 4 egg whites
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare mini muffin pans with wrappers.
In a large bowl, mix the crushed graham crackers, butter, and sugar until a crumbly mixture forms. Spoon the mixture into each mini muffin wrapper, pressing down with your fingers. Place in the oven and bake until golden brown, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand.
Separate the eggs by placing the yolks in a small bowl and the whites in the bowl of a mixer. Whisk the yolks together with the lemon juice and set aside.
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, salt, and water. The mixture should bubble and thicken. Remove from heat and set aside.
Carefully add a spoonful of the hot mixture to the yolks, immediately whisking to combine. Repeat with 2 more spoonfuls, to temper the eggs. Then, slowly pour the egg yolk mixture back into the sauce pan with the filing, whisking constantly, until well blended.
Return the pan to medium heat and cook until thickened again, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in the 2 tablespoons of butter and lemon zest. Set aside to cool.
Using a stand mixer, combine the egg whites and cream of tartar on high until very frothy, about one minute. Slowly add the sugar until well blended. Continue beating until stiff peaks begin to form.
Spoon the lemon filling onto the cooled graham cracker crusts to almost the top of the wrappers. Then, using a teaspoon, add a small dollop of meringue to the top of each pie.
Place in the oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until meringue has begun to brown on top. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
Makes 36 mini pies.