Applesauce Custard Pie with Brown Sugar Meringue

I have a lot of applesauce I made when my mother-in-law's tree gave a bumper crop and I've been trying to use it up in different ways.  We eat it with yogurt and with cereal.  I've made applesauce cakes, bars and cookies and I've even added it to the strawberry rhubarb jam I make, but still I have applesauce.  One day I got to thinking and decided I'd use it in pie but it was so runny it didn't really make a good pie (although it tasted good).  So I googled applesauce pie and found there are recipes using the applesauce as you would pumpkin using eggs to make a soft custard pie.  I made a couple of them and found they made an acceptable pie but not a great pie.  I filed the recipe away and didn't think of it again until I ran across the scribbled recipe in my box.

I didn't want to remake the same recipe as it wasn't that great so I fiddled with the ingredients for a firmer pie and adjusted the spices for flavour.  I decided it would make a nice meringue pie but not any meringue pie--a brown sugar meringue pie.  It would be most fitting, complementing the apple custard with a crown of butterscotchy, caramelly meringue.  By the time I finished with the recipe it was entirely new and different and didn't remotely resemble any of the recipes I had made before.  

If, for some reason, you don't want to make a meringue, whipped cream is a very good topping as well. 

Applesauce  Custard Pie with Brown Sugar Meringue
½ cup sugar (use ⅓ cup sugar if applesauce is sweetened)
1 teaspoon cinnamon 
¼ teaspoon nutmeg 
Pinch of cloves
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups unsweetened applesauce
3 egg yolks, beaten
2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tbsp. butter, softened
2 or 3 drops of red food colouring, optional
9-inch pie crust, fully baked
Brown sugar meringue, recipe below

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Combine the sugar, spices, salt and cornstarch in a medium sized saucepan.  Blend in the applesauce and cook over a medium heat until thickened.  Add the lemon juice.  Add a little of the hot mixture to the beaten egg yolks and return the egg mixture to the saucepan and cook an additional one minute to cook the egg.  Add the butter and red food colouring, if using, and mix well.  Pour the hot mixture into the baked pie crust.  

Make the Brown Sugar Meringue and pile on top of hot pie, swirling to the edge to seal meringue to the crust.  Bake 20 minutes in preheated oven or until a golden brown. 

Cool pie away from draft.  Refrigerate any uneaten pie. 

Makes 6-8 servings.

Brown Sugar Meringue
3 egg whites
½ teaspoon cream of tartar, optional
6 tablespoons brown sugar, lump-free, firmly packed

In bowl of mixer beat egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until they start to get foamy and soft peaks form.  Continue beating while adding the brown sugar one tablespoon at a time.  Increase speed to high and beat until egg whites are glossy and hold a stiff peak.

While the pie crust is baking make the Applesauce Custard filling.  Measure and stir together the sugar, cornstarch, salt and spices.  Add the applesauce and stir to combine.  Cook over medium heat until thickened.

Add the lemon juice to the thickened applesauce mixture. Always add lemon juice to cooked cornstarch mixtures.  Lemon juice can prevent the cornstarch from thickening if added before it is cooked.

When the applesauce has thickened add the beaten egg yolks.  You must temper the eggs with the hot mixture before adding them.  You don't want scrambled egg applesauce!  While stirring the egg yolks, add some of the hot mixture.  You can add up to half of the hot mixture.  Pour back the eggy mixture into the hot pot and bring back to a slow boil, stirring constantly.  Cook an additional 1 minute.

Stir in the butter and food colouring, if using.

Pour the hot applesauce filling into the baked pie crust.  

Make the brown sugar meringue by beating the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form.  Add the brown sugar one tablespoon at a time, continuing to beat until the meringue is glossy and firm with stiff peaks.  Pile the meringue onto the hot pie filling.  Seal the meringue to the edge of the pie and bake in the preheated 325 degree oven for 20 minutes.

Swirl the meringue into peaks for a pretty presentation.

Doesn't that look appetizing? Perfectly baked meringue.

Cool the pie away from drafts.  
To make a clean cut into meringue, dip your knife in hot water for each cut. 

Have a delicious taste of autumn with a slice of Applesauce Custard Pie with Brown Sugar Meringue.


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