4 egg whites
1 TB cornstarch
1 TB sugar
1/3 cup water
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar
Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) and place the oven rack in the middle. (Hint—the meringue will be tall, so make sure it won’t hit the top of the oven!)
In a small pan, combine the cornstarch, 1 TB sugar, and water. Cook for several minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly. The mixture will thicken and become translucent. Cool.
Beat the egg whites until frothy, then add the vanilla, cream of tartar, and 1/2 cup sugar. Beat until foamy. Add the cornstarch mixture and continue beating until the meringue forms soft peaks; if you lift some with a spoon or spatula, it should form a peak that stands up. The meringue will also look shiny.
Remove the plastic wrap from the pie and spread the meringue over the filling. Start by spreading it around the edges, being sure to seal the edges of the crust. Pile the meringue into the middle of the pie and make some decorative swirls with your spatula. There will be a lot of meringue!
Bake for about 20-25 minutes. The meringue should be lightly browned. Check it frequently for the last 5-10 minutes to make sure the peaks don’t burn.
Tips from Jane
Separating egg whites from yolks isn’t hard, but you have to be careful, because even a little bit of yolk (protein and fat) in with the white (carbohydrate) will keep the whites from frothing up properly.
I do each egg separately to minimize the risk of messing up, and I use three bowls: One to catch each white, one for the accumulated whites, and one for the yolks.
Hold an egg in one hand and give it a firm tap on the side of the bowl. Separate the halves, keeping the yolk in the shell and allowing the white to fall into bowl #1. Place the yolk into bowl #2. Transfer white to bowl #3.
Take the second egg and repeat process, so by the end you have four yolks in bowl #2 and four whites in bowl #3.
If the yolk breaks and gets into the white, save that egg for scrambled eggs, wash out the bowl, and start again. More...