Every month at my fire department association’s business meeting the firefighters take turns bringing a dessert or snack. This month was my turn and when I asked around what people might want the answer I got was cream pies. So I decided to make four different types of cream pie in hopes of having something for everyone. This lemon cream pie was chosen because I love all things lemon and it looked so good, I just had to try it. I had never made my own curd before so it was a little dicey for a bit as I kept stirring and stirring waiting for the curd to thicken, but eventually it did and it was heavenly. Recipe inspiration by wellplated.com.
Graham Cracker Crust:
- 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (10 sheets if you are using whole crackers)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 7 tablespoons melted butter
Lemon Cream Filling:
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 3 large lemons)
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest (from about 1 lemon)
- 12 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature
Whipped Cream Topping:
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Begin by preheating your oven to 375. Mix together your graham cracker crumbs, sugars and melted butter. Press into a greased 9″ pie plate. I like to use a glass or measuring cup with a flat bottom to make sure it is even. Bake for 7-9 minutes, then let cool completely. Next, place a heatproof bowl over a pan of lightly simmering water to create a double boiler. Add the eggs into the bowl, then with a hand mixer on medium speed (or a whisk and some serious arm power), beat the eggs until thick and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes if using a mixer. With the mixer running, slowly add the sugar, then the lemon juice and lemon zest. Once incorporated, switch from a mixer (or whisk) to a rubber spatula. Continue to cook the mixture over the simmering water, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom of the bowl with your spatula, until it forms a thick, smooth custard, about 8-12 additional minutes. When you dip your spatula into the custard, the custard should easily coat the spatula’s back, and if you draw a line through the custard on the back of the spatula with your finger, the sides of the custard should stay separated. Remove the bowl from the water and let cool to almost room temperature. In a large mixing bowl or a standing mixer fit with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium high speed until it is completely soft and smooth, about 3 full minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to medium, then gradually add the cooled lemon custard to the cream cheese, beating until smooth and fully combined so that no white streaks remain. Pour the cream cheese into the baked pastry shell. Refrigerate the pie until fully chilled, at least 4 hours or overnight. Up to 4 hours before serving, prepare the homemade whipped cream: In large mixing bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment over medium speed. When it starts to thicken, add the powdered sugar and vanilla, increase the mixer speed to high, and continue to beat until soft peaks form. (Do not over beat or the cream will separate.) Spread over the chilled pie, slice, and serve cold.
*Now I know there are a lot of words in the instructions, but it really is not as difficult as it might appear. Also, I knew I wouldn’t be serving my pie right away, so I made a stabilized whipped cream using gelatin to ensure that my whipped cream didn’t fall. That recipe can also be found on my website.