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When it comes to citrus in meringue pies, why do lemons always get the limelight? I put other flavors to the test and discovered that using oranges instead puts a great new spin on the old classic. Oranges make for a less acidic custard filling that plays equally well with a creamy, light meringue, without all the pucker of their yellow cousins.
As I created this recipe, I was very concerned about balance. After all, oranges are much sweeter than lemons, and I worried their flavor would be drowned out by the eggs and sugar in the filling. For orange flavor that is bright and true to the essence of real oranges, the key is to use plenty of zest, and balance out the sweetness by using much less sugar than you'd use in a pie made with lemons.
To complement the orange filling, I chose a meringue with a strong vanilla flavor. By whisking the egg whites and sugar over a pot of boiling water before whipping them, I created an extra-stable Swiss meringue, which has the tiniest of air bubbles and tastes more creamy than more traditional French meringues. Finish it off by bruléeing the meringue under your oven's broiler, and the result is a pie with a classic combination of vanilla and orange, lightened. It's something slightly different, and delightfully unexpected.