Chasing Delicious | Bourbon Apple Meringue Pie
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Bourbon Apple Meringue Pie

The soft, airy white mountain stacked high parts as the heavy fork sinks through it with ease. I separate a bite, lifting the shockingly-light mass up to my eager mouth – I resist the desire to simply mold and sculpt this delightfully feathery structure. As if by magic the moist cotton candy like treat dissolves into thin air as it hits my tongue, leaving a faint sweet taste behind.

I drop my fork back to the ravaged pie dish, ready for another bite, my mouth far from tired of the sweet meringue. Another bite and another magical poof as meringue transforms from airy dessert to nothing. Another bite and suddenly it is all gone.

Crust and filling remain perfect and untouched, the meringue – from the lemon meringue pie – now mysteriously missing. I step back and admire my handy work; I look up to the counter at my father’s birthday pie. Whoops – my adolescent mind now well aware of what trouble will soon find me. Eh. I’ll just blame it on my brother.

Another year and another lemon meringue pie. Another lemon meringue pie and another case of the missing meringue. But wait. What is that? Could it be? My mother is pulling a second lemon meringue pie out of the oven. She delicately sets the golden mountain of a pie down on a tall counter, pushed far to the back, way out of my adolescent reach. I stare up at the cooling meringue, then to the devoured pie strategically distanced from me, then back to my mother. She smiles, never one to get mad, winks and heads out of the kitchen. Gasp. She knows!

To this day I find myself searching for excuses to make meringue – and like cookie dough when I make it I find myself eating half of it before I can get it into the oven. This apple pie is a mix of looking for a twist on the traditional apple pie and a desire to bring together different textures and flavors – including meringue. What I got is possibly the best dessert I have ever made.

Bourbon Apple Meringue Pie: This pie is my new favorite fall pie for two reasons: texture and taste. Not only are the three juxtaposing textures and resulting mouthfeel pleasant and fun, the layers of flavor in this pie play off of each other so well. Soft, crispy apples baked to perfection provide a light snap and the pie crust – a sweeter short dough — provides a cookie like crunch sitting underneath a pillow of delicious, fluffy, light meringue. The subtle sweetness of the meringue plays well with the rich and tart apples. A sweet, cinnamon crust holds everything together and a delicious bourbon caramel sauce ties each layer to each other.

Because the apples are cooked in the sauce before baking, making the sauce doesn’t require extra steps. Pie crust can be a little bit of work but it is straight forward enough – and if you have to you can always substitute it with store bought though I don’t advocate it. Meringues are incredibly easy so long as you watch carefully to make sure you don’t over whip them. Though it takes some time, this pie is quite easy and well worth it.

How worth it? I ate one slice while photographing, one slice after photographing it, one slice for dessert last night and I am having one for breakfast now. Yeah. This pie is good.

Apples: I use a mix of Granny Smith and Pink Lady apples for all my apple pies. The tartness from the Granny Smith gives the pie a scrumptious bite and the sweetness from the Pink Lady adds the delicious, familiar sweet apple flavor. You can use any variety you like though I suggest choosing tart varieties to keep the pie from becoming cloyingly sweet.

Meringue: Meringue is very easy so long as you follow a few tips. Don’t add the sugar until the eggs have increased significantly in volume otherwise they may not build the structure needed to expand. Adding a little lemon juice in the beginning – I mean little: a few drops will do – helps the structure retain its shape as it bakes. Be careful not to over mix the egg whites too. They should look smooth and glossy – and of course hold a stiff peak – not broken apart and clumpy. If you’ve over mixed egg whites you sadly have to start over from the beginning.

Bourbon: Like cooking with wine, liquors in baking add a distinct layer of flavor that few things can mimic. Because their flavors are so strong you should only use good quality products – no you don’t need to buy from the top shelf but you sure as heck should not be guying anything from the bottom shelf. As many great chefs say, only cook with it if you’d be willing to drink it. If you want to omit it you can use apple juice, more cream, or even a little freshly squeezed citrus juice.

If you have bourbon though, or are up to trying something new, I definitely suggest trying the recipe as is. The Bourbon adds a delicious combination of sweet and slightly spicy notes that play with apples wonderfully.

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Bourbon Apple Meringue Pie

Tools

1 paring knife
1 chef’s knife
1 peeler (optional)
1 large heavy-bottomed pot
1 colander
2 large glass or metal bowls
1 pie dish
1 whisk
1 stand/hand mixer (optional)

Ingredients

1 pie crust (recipe below)

Filling
4 pounds apples (about 8 apples), peeled, cored, sliced
8 ounces butter, unsalted
12 ounces sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
zest and juice from 1 large lemon
1/2 cup cream, heated
3/4 cup good bourbon

Meringue
6 egg whites
5 ounces sugar
A few drops of freshly squeezed lemon juice

Instructions

1.  Preheat an oven to 375°F. Line a pie dish with the rolled out pie dough. Set aside.

2. Melt the butter in a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the apple slices and cook, stirring frequently, for about five minutes.

3. Add the sugar and cinnamon to the pot and cook, stirring frequently, for another 5 to 10 minutes until the apples become tender, but still firm.  If it is boiling rapidly lower the heat. If the mixture isn’t steaming or seems stagnant, increase the heat.

4. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, bourbon and cream and cook, stirring frequently, for about five minutes.

5. Strain the apples from the liquid, reserving the liquid. Set the apples aside and place the liquid back in the pot.  Bring the pot to a low boil and cook until the sauce thickens a bit, about another 5 to 10 minutes. Stir frequently and watch the heat as the sauce may scorch or burn if left unwanted. Remove the sauce to a bowl and set aside.

6. Place the apples in the lined pie dish. Place in the oven and bake for 45 minutes.

7. 10 minutes before the pie is to be removed from the oven, begin the meringue.

8. Place the egg whites in a large bowl and add the few drops of lemon juice. Begin whipping the eggs at high speed.

9. Once the egg whites have increased about 4 times begin to slowly add the sugar while whipping the egg whites.

10. Once all the sugar is added let the egg whites whip until they form stiff peaks. Watch the meringue carefully as you do not want to over whip the egg whites. They should look glossy and smooth.

11. Remove the pie from the oven. Spread the meringue on top of the pie, spreading the meringue all the way to the crust – this helps seal it to the pie.

12. Reduce the heat in the oven to 350°F and bake the pie for another 10-15 minutes, watching the pie careful as the meringue can burn if left in too long.

13. Let the pie cool before slicing.

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Sweet Cinnamon Pie Crust

Tools

1 Large Bowl
1 French Rolling Pin
Counter Space
Parchment Paper

Ingredients

8 ounces bread flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 ounces unsalted butter, very cold,
2 ounces lard, very cold
3 tablespoons water, very cold

Instructions

1.  Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl, set aside. Cut the butter and lard into  about 1/2″ cubes.

2. Add the cold butter and lard to the bowl. Pinch the butter and lard in between your fingers in the flour. Break apart the butter and lard and lightly mix into the flour until the fat is about pea size.

3. Add the cold water and lightly knead the dough just until it comes together. Don’t over mix. You should see chunks and strips of butter and lard in the dough.

4. Flatten the dough slightly and refrigerate the dough for a couple hours until the dough is firm enough to roll out.

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Enjoy!

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AUTHOR - Russell van Kraayenburg

Founder of Chasing Delicious, and author of Haute Dogs, Russell's works have been featured in Southern Living, Men's Fitness, Redbook, TRADHome, and Real Simple magazines and on various sites including Lifehacker, Fast Co., Business Insider, The Kitchn, Live Originally, Quipsologies, Explore, and Fine Cooking. Follow Russell on Twitter @rvank and Instagram. Get more delicious @chasedelicious.

70 Comments

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  • Steph@stephsbitebybite

    your pictures are so amazing! I would be in serious trouble if left alone with this pie. There would be none left for anyone to have!

  • leon

    Mmmmm, this looks really yummy – I think you need to set up a virtual reality “taste a piece”.

  • Cassie

    I am weak. in. the. knees. for that meringue. The whole things just looks decadent. Love that apple/bourbon combo!

  • Miriam @ Overtime Cook

    Oh wow, this looks absolutely gorgeous Russel! Who knew it was possible to make a gorgeous dessert like an apple pie look so much more gorgeous?!

  • nicole {sweet peony}

    russell, this is beautiful! the pictures are gorgeous & the pie looks amazing! definitely want to make this soon :)

  • Michael Toa

    The pictures are beautiful Russell and I have no doubt the pie taste incredible too. I am mad about apples at the moment and I’ve been cooking many apple recipes. This is going to the list and I know I have to try it soon. Have a nice day to you.

  • Tina@flourtrader

    This works in such a delicious way, from the cinnamon crust to the fluffy meringue! Very creative and unique. I would have loved to been the recipient of the serving in the top left photo. Impressive pie-Buzz Buzz!

  • Kristina

    Oh, this looks just incredible. I think perhaps I’d better try not to make it…

  • Kiri W.

    That’s a lot of meringue on that pie! Bourbon apple pie is always a winner for me, and pictures look delicious!

  • frankie

    im dying over this pie! im glad we internet-connected. a new post today! the last of the baguettes!

  • Viviane Bauquet Farre

    Russel – this is so decadent and delicious looking. I wish I were there to sample that wonderful looking crust. Not to mention the size of this beautiful pie – (no need for seconds!)

  • Cucina49

    Fabulous photos–I haven’t done anything that has combined bourbon and apples, but the combination sounds like a winner to me.

  • Nisrine

    The bourbon must make this apple pie extra special. Pretty photos, Russell.

  • Rebecca@A Dusting of Sugar

    Hmmmm, I’ve never seen an apple meringue pie, how creative of you! Whatcha going to do with all your egg yolks?

  • Cheryl and Adam @ pictureperfectmeals.com

    Eat just the meringue? And all of it? Don’t know anybody like that. Nope. Not us. Bravo on a fantastic post and recipe.

  • Katie

    Love your approach to the photos in this one! Very rustic and comforting. Sounds delicious.

  • Jana @ delectablymine

    What a gorgeous pie! It is so tall. I’ve never had an apple pie with meringue but I’m sure it can’t be bad.

  • Frankly Entertaining

    That crust looks amazing. I’ve never tried one with cinnamon before, but I bet it works really well with the apples.

  • Words Of Deliciousness

    This pie sounds amazing!! Love your pictures they are really beautiful.

  • Melissa // thefauxmartha

    This pie is stinkin beautiful. As are your pictures. You’ve got mad skillz!

  • Laura Martorella

    Beautiful & amazing!!! Can you come for Thanksgiving ;-)

    • Russell

      Haha. If only. I’ve been itching to get back out west! I’ve missed you. How have you been?

  • camilla

    Ok so your pie looks insanely good!

  • Meeta

    I absolutely love adding flavors to the crust. I’ve added nuts to it too. But this whole pie is simply divine and can see why you call it your favorite!

  • Eliot

    I love so much about this pie, from the cinnamon crust to the addition of the bourbon to the pie.

  • The Café Sucré Farine

    This is beautiful! I never thought about meringue on an apple pie, brilliant idea!

  • Nicole@The Galley Gourmet

    Oh, wow- looks looks divine!

  • Lacy

    I was never big on meringue until this year and now…I love it! And it seems like it should always be on top of an apple pie from the looks of your pictures! This pie sounds amazing, throw bourbon on anything & I’m good to go! ;)

  • JulieD

    What an amazing spin on American classic! Apples and bourbon? Genius! I always enjoy your stories and your wonderful photography.

  • Vanessa

    Lovely! <3

  • Kathryn

    Gorgeous pictures, I love the processing. Just beautiful!

  • Isabelle @ Crumb

    Oh wow! This looks so darn awesome, I won’t even give you a hard time for not making a cheddar-crusted apple pie like I suggested. :) I’ve got a desperate craving for pillowy meringue now… may have to give in and make it, especially seeing as I’ve got a pile of apples in my fruit basket right now.

  • kitchenriffs

    Sounds like a wonderful combination of flavors. And apples are so good right now, we’ve got to use them in as many ways as we can! Have you tried Golden Delicious apples in baking? I’ve always resisted these because I assumed they were like the red Delicious apples – they’re not at all. Worth checking out. Great light on some of your photos. Thanks.

  • BigFatBaker

    Your pictures are always so beautiful! This recipe, wow… I like lemon meringue pie enough but this looks way better.

  • christina Williams

    Oh, holy crap! This is definitely going in my feature on holiday pies for The Blog Entourage. YUM!!!

  • Brian @ A Thought For Food

    I don’t think it gets any better than that! Apples and bourbon… topped with the most perfect meringue! Gorgeous, Russell!

  • RavieNomNoms

    Oh that pie crust!! How divine!! I am so in awe of that. I want to try that. I feel like that would be a great one to have with a lot of different kinds of pies. Anything with bourbon is always a winner in my book!

  • Lora

    That is simply one gorgeous pie!

  • Boulder Locavore

    Do you deliver?! The description of the pie had me hooked but then I saw the crust recipe; over the top. Your meringue is amazing (a completely over used word but apropos in this case). Such a beautiful fall dessert! So glad you linked it up in the TG recipe LinkUp! Thank you.

  • Maya

    That beautifully colored meringue on top of your apple pie just makes me want to jump right into the middle of it and get a big mouthful in the process! It truly looks gorgeous, Russell :-).

  • Winnie

    Awesome photos…and this pie looks unique and delicious!

  • Jesica @ Pencil Kitchen

    I am just simply stunned…. Apple meringue pie? why have i never thought NEVER thought of that!

  • Ira Rodrigues

    i love all the shots, they are vintage actions and really looks gorgeous!
    and the pie, hmm…could describe for more, just delicious!

  • Christy

    What an amazing collection of photos! Apple meringue pie with sweet cinnamon crust just sound so appetizing!!:D

  • Nami | Just One Cookbook

    I just gave a big sigh… your photos are just simply so gorgeous that I can keep looking at them. Not only this is a great recipe but your photography did justice. I want to eat have a piece right now…. Beautiful post!

  • Liz

    What a stunning, incredible pie!!! I’ve never put a meringue on an apple pie, but I certainly approve. Your photos are exquisite!!! Lovely post~

  • Amy at Gastronome Tart

    WOW! I have yet to try an apple pie with meringue on it. The recipe sounds absolutely scrumptious and I am a complete pie person. Bookmarked!

  • dassana@vegrecipesofindia

    a lovely pie…. feel like taking a grab…

    nice space russell you have and a great recipe collection of sweet goodies.

  • Claudia

    I’ve never thought to flavor meringue. How unimaginative am I? Love the cinnamon crust – I’d be guilty of eating the crust! Grand mix of flavors.

  • Yudith @ Blissfully Delicious

    Oh. My. Goodness. You have captured all of my fave flavorsinto one gorgeous pie: apple, cinnamon (in the crust?? yum!!), bourbon, meringue. Fantastic Russell!

  • Reem | Simply Reem

    Your photography is seriously breath-taking good…
    Every picture tells a story…
    And this pie, God I can eat all of it all by myself and still crave more…

  • Lilly

    This is just the recipe I need. I’ve got apples and egg whites =)
    Now all I have to do is to find time to make it. I don’t think I can make it as well as you, but I can try!

  • Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic

    Oh my gosh, even just reading the title is making me wish I had a slice of this luscious pie right now! It looks amazing!

  • Kaitlin

    Your photos and writing style are both lovely! I totally dig this idea for a pie. I’ve never seen meringue on apple and I’m eager to try it.

  • Natalie

    YUM this looks so delicious, looks like I need to pick me up some good bourbon this weekend.

  • kita

    My dad is the king of apple pies in our family, so I am always on the hunt for one to best him (all in friendly rivalry). I love the meringue topping on this – heck it may even get to me eat a slice! (the only thing about fruit pies I normally like is the crust).

  • Rosie @ Sweetapolita

    Whoa! What an incredible pie, and your photos are stunning! I love everything about this post. And that meringue is gorgeous!

  • Trevor Sis. Boom.

    For some reason this season I can’t get enough of cooking with bourbon. What is that about? This has been clipped and saved for a time…next week?…when I can get my hands on some apples and enough free time to pop this one out. Thank!

  • Sandy@divaeatsworld.com

    This looks completely yummy!!! BTW love the name of your blog.

  • Nicole @ Bake Me Blush

    I too find it hard not to eat it most of the meringue before it makes it to the oven… it’s a weakness! :) But it’s so, so good… and it looks even more delicious topping this pie.

  • Chris and Amy

    Wow. Wow. Wow. This is a defitely must-try as we are big fans of bourbon.

  • Beth Michelle

    I think I just found what I am making for dessert this year for Thanksgiving. This pie looks to die for. Amazing recipe.

  • Helena / Rico sin Azúcar

    Beautiful topping and delicious filling! (love that touch of bourbon ;-)

  • Magic of Spice

    What a beautiful fall pie!

  • spiceblogger

    OMYGOSH! I saw this beauty on foodbuzz the other day but never had a chance to come over and tell you how fabulous it looks!
    I’ve been so super busy lately at my shop and with Turkey day preparations, I have had little time to visit all my friends.

    I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving yesterday, Russell! :)

    –Shelley

  • Monique

    I want to be your best friend. This pie looks marvelous.

  • jules @ bananamondaes

    This is stunningly beautiful. I love it. Beats a traditional pastry topping.

  • sherry

    you r so awesome…..keep it up! I’m happy to find Ur website in stumble upon! ^^

  • Natalie

    Wow what a perfect looking pie.

  • Natalie

    OMG looks lovely! Love the bourbon in this.

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