I recently lost my mother-in-law Audrey. At 86 years old she was still enjoying life. Hearing her famous giggle was enough to brighten my day. During the process of sorting through her many things – she loved knick knacks – I came across her recipes. Although she appreciated good food, she was not much of a cook or baker. She had a few special recipes scribbled on pieces of paper and bundled together with a rubber band. No cookbooks, no recipe cards, no on-line recipe box, just random pieces of paper.
One recipe I found was for Angel Pie. It was one of the family’s favorites. I remember eating it for the first time when Craig, her son, and I stopped by her house during one of our early dates. She made a lemon version but her handwriting was so messy and the ink so faded I couldn’t make out the recipe. So, I looked through Land O’Lakes recipes and found Butterscotch Angel Pie and decided to make it as a tribute to her. This one's for you Audrey!
Angel pie has a meringue shell crust which is filled with a creamy pudding like mixture. This type of pie originated back in the 1930’s so I’m sure Audrey learned to make angel pie from her mother Lillian. Meringues can be a little tricky so I’ll take you through the steps of making it so you will feel comfortable giving it a try. It’s best if you let the filled pie refrigerate at least 12 hours before serving so plan ahead and make this the day before you want to serve it.
To begin, heat the oven to 275°F. Yes, that is 275°F as meringues bake for a long time at a low temperature. Lightly grease and flour a 9 ½-inch deep-dish pie pan. Deep dish pie pans are about 1 ½-inches deep versus regular pie pans that are only 1 1/8-inches deep. This recipe really fills up a deep dish pie pan so be sure that’s what you use. To grease the pie pan use shortening. Just brush it all over the bottom and edges of the pan.
Now flour the pie pan by adding about a tablespoon of flour to the pan and gently shaking the flour around to coat. The flour sticks to the shortening. Once the entire pan is coated, place the pan over a wastebasket or the sink and tap to release and discard any extra flour. Set the prepared pan aside.
On to making the meringue. Meringues are made from egg whites. To separate the whites from the yolks I use two small bowls. I crack the egg and then, using the shell, I gently toss the yolk back and forth between the two halves of the shell letting the white flow out into the first small bowl. Then I put the yolk in the second bowl. The white goes into the large mixing bowl. Do each egg separately as it is very important that no yolk get into the white or the white will not beat up and become stiff (this is crucial for meringue). If any yolk is in with the white I start over with clean bowls and a new egg. Mistakes can be used to make scrambled eggs or be used in any recipe that calls for whole eggs. You will need one yolk for the filling so save one yolk to use later.
Once all 3 egg whites are in the mixing bowl add the vanilla and cream of tartar. Cream of tartar is found in the baking isle at the grocery store. It helps provide stability and volume when beating egg whites. Beat at low speed until frothy.
Increase the speed to high; gradually add ¾ cup sugar while beating.
Continue beating until stiff peaks form and the mixture is glossy. This will take about 2 to 3 minutes. You can see how the egg white mixture makes a stiff peak off the end of the beater.
Spread the mixture onto the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pie pan. The back of a spoon works well for spreading.
Bake the meringue for 1 hour without opening the door of your oven. Turn off the oven and let the meringue shell stand in the oven for an additional hour. Resist the temptation to open the door. The meringue continues to bake and dry out as the oven cools down. After the additional hour, remove the meringue shell from the oven and let it cool at room temperature. It will have some cracks and crevasses; don’t worry, that’s normal.
While the shell is cooling you can make the filling. In a small bowl mix together ½ cup half & half, an egg and an egg yolk (now is when you use the egg yolk I told you to save). Then stir in the cornstarch. A small whisk works well for mixing. Set this mixture aside for a moment.
Combine the butter and brown sugar in a 2-quart saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter melts and the mixture bubbles. I think this mixture smells really good.
Stir in the remaining 1 ¼ cups of half & half; using a whisk stir until smooth.
Now increase the heat to medium-high and stir in the cornstarch mixture.
Cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is thickened.
Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.
Place plastic food wrap directly on the surface of the filling and let the mixture cool for 30 minutes. The plastic food wrap prevents the filling from forming a “skin.” This is a great tip to use when making pudding or pudding-like fillings like this one.
After letting the filling cool for 30 minutes, spread it into the meringue shell.
Cover with plastic food wrap and refrigerate at least 12 hours or overnight.
Before serving, beat the whipping cream until soft peaks form.
Add 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Continue beating until stiff peaks form.
Spread over filling.
Top with raspberries and enjoy!
I will confess it is not the easiest pie to cut into servings. Don’t worry if the meringue breaks apart and if your pieces don’t look like “stars” because, one bite and you’ll be in love. The butterscotch filling is the perfect foil to the crisp yet chewy meringue. It’s simply heavenly – no wonder it’s called angel pie.
Thanks Audrey, for introducing me to angel pie! I miss you!
Do you have a favorite recipe from years ago? After you try Butterscotch Angel Pie please rate and review the recipe.
Does rhubarb remind you of spring? Amanda has a great spring time dessert made with rhubarb coming up on Thursday.
Becky Wahlund is the Director of the Test Kitchens for Land O'Lakes and writes for our Recipe Buzz® Blog.