What qualifies as a vintage dessert? Must it have originated in the 1950’s when homemakers wore frilly aprons and heels to bake three-layer-cakes? Should it have fluffy white frosting? Was it always served on a pastel cake stand?
“A vintage dessert is anything that reminds us of sweeter, simpler times…and it must be homemade,” said Cheryl Day on a recent episode of The Splendid Table. As the author of Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook and owner of the Bakery with the same name, she knows a thing or two about vintage desserts – and cake stands. Maybe even more convincing, her marvelous sense of fashion looks like this.
So, whew! …according to Cheryl’s definition, my Pink Meringue Pie can be categorized as “vintage” – even though it’s from my own childhood cooking in the 1980’s.
This pink pie reminds me of simpler times when my mom (who didn’t care to cook for the family every single night of the week) allowed me free reign in the kitchen as long as I produced a meal – and then she would clean up. Talk about sweeter times! Cooking with no pots, cutting boards, knives or dishes to clean.
The Pink Meringue Pie I created below is actually quite different from the pie off the pages of Betty Crocker’s Cookbook for Boys & Girls. The original used canned cherry pie filling and food coloring in the meringue. Instead I cooked up a pink cherry-vanilla pudding filling and used natural coloring to tint the pudding and meringue. (I really don’t have a huge problem with the little bottles of food coloring, but I wanted to discover how the beet juice seen on the ingredient labels of ‘natural’ pink yogurts would work as a coloring. Answer: It worked great and the pickled beet juice also added a tiny sparkle to the pudding – rather like acidic lemon juice would do.) Obviously, this would be a pink-alicious Valentine treat for little girls – or lovers of cherry-vanilla deliciousness.
Pink Meringue Pie
A pastel cherry vanilla cream pink pie is a delicious vintage dessert. Pink meringue for Valentine’s Day!
- 1 baked (homemade, even if misshapen!) 9-inch pie crust shell
- Scant ¾ cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 3 cups low-fat (1%) milk
- 4 egg yolks, beaten
- 1 ½ teaspoons good-quality vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon butter
- 1 tablespoon maraschino cherry juice (I used Tillen Farms Merry Maraschino Cherries with no dyes or preservatives)
- 1 tablespoon pickled beet juice
- For Meringue:
- 3 egg whites at room temperature
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tarter
- 6 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon pickled beet juice
- In a saucepan, stir together sugar and cornstarch. Whisk in milk and cook, stirring constantly until bubbles pop the surface. Continue to cook over medium heat for 2 more minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Whisk 1 cup of hot mixture into the egg yolks.
- Pour egg yolk mixture back into hot milk mixture and whisk. Bring barely to a boil and cook 2 minutes more, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla, butter, cherry juice and 1 tablespoon beet juice. Pour into pie crust shell.
- For meringue, in a large bowl, combine egg whites, vanilla, and cream of tarter. Beat with an electric mixer until soft peaks form – about 1 minute. Gradually add 6 tablespoons sugar while beating on high. Beat about 4 minutes more until stiff glossy peaks form. Mix in 1 teaspoon beet juice.
- Immediately spread meringue over warm pudding in pie crust and spread to seal the edges. Make fancy curly-topped designs in meringue and bake in a preheated 350°F oven for 15 minutes.