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If Florida sunshine had a flavor, this would be it! A sunny mix of orange citrus and lemon zing in a creamy, custardy filling. This pie crosses State lines, as the crispy meringue crust features Georgia pecans. The distinct textures of the cool, smooth, tangy filling and crisp, crunchy, and chewy candy-like crust make every bite a pure delight. (Ha. I’m a poet and didn’t know it!)
This pie is unapologetically sweet! (Like Florida is unapologetically hot.) If you aren’t a fan of sweet crusts or a meringue lover (I am!), use a graham cracker crust.
Unlike most of my recipes, this one takes a fair amount of time and patience. There’s nothing “hard” about it, but it takes time and focus. It also takes a fair amount of dishes. This is best made on a quiet afternoon with some beachy music playing in the background when you can submerge yourself in the creative process with no time constraints. Relax, have fun and enjoy the pie experience.
There is a fair amount of prep, starting with the pecans. They need to be toasted. The easiest method is on the stovetop. Place the nuts in a dry saute pan or skillet (don’t add oil!). Heat over medium heat for about 4 to 5 minutes, until golden and fragrant. (Watch carefully! The nuts go from brown to burnt very quickly!).
One or two oranges (depending on the size) need to be zested. The oranges can be zested with a grater or with a peel zester. Fresh lemon juice is best in this recipe. To get the most juice from a lemon, roll it on the counter to loosen it up.
A 9 inch glass or ceramic pie dish needs to be coated with non-stick spray. To avoid getting the spray over everything, I spray on the inside door of my dishwasher. When I wash the next load, the door is cleaned. Easy/peasy hack!
The eggs will work best at room temperature. Separate them into two bowls. As you will need 4 egg whites, I recommend breaking the eggs into individual cups and then adding them to the large bowls. If you mess one up, you just lose one egg, not the entire bowl. Even the slightest bit of yellow in the whites will prevent them from forming the stiff peaks needed for the crust. Take your time and do it right!
The egg whites and sugar are whipped until stiff peaks are formed. The chopped pecans and some orange zest are gently folded in.
Spread meringue on the bottom and up sides of the prepared pie dish while ensuring an indentation for the filling. The crust is baked in preheated oven until lightly browned, about 1 hour. If the crust puffs up too much, use the back of a mixing spoon and tap it down. It will create a denser crust, but there needs to be room for the filling! Turn off the oven and let the crust sit for another hour (or overnight).
Whisk the lemon juice, salt, more orange zest, and half a cup of sugar in the bowl with the egg yolks. Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan on low heat, constantly stirring until the mixture thickens. Now is the time to practice patience. You can’t rush this step, or you will end up with lemon-flavored scrambled eggs! The heat needs to be on low, and it’s going to take up to 10 minutes of constant stirring. This is where the beachy music will really come in handy! Sing along and stir, stir, stir. When the mixture has thickened. Immediately remove from heat and transfer into a medium mixing bowl. Let mixture completely cool for about 15 minutes. When cooled, add the whipped topping (a tub of Cool Whip) and gently stir until thoroughly blended.
Spoon into the prepared meringue pie shell. Sprinkle with the remaining orange zest.
Freeze 2-3 hours to set. Garnish with thinly sliced oranges rounds Store in refrigerator.
Florida Sunshine PieCourse: DessertCuisine: FloridianDifficulty: Easy
Taste Florida sunshine in this custardy orange cream pie with a candy-like pecan meringue crust. The tangy citrus filling is the perfect complement to the the sweet crunchy nutty shell.
4 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, divided
4 tablespoons orange zest (from 1-2 large oranges) divided in three portions
1 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted
5 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
1/8 teaspoon salt
8 oz whipped topping (Cool Whip)
1 orange, thinly sliced for garnish
- Preheat oven to 275°F. Prep: Separate eggs in two mixing bowls, let warm to room temperature. Toast pecans. Zest orange. Juice lemon. Coat a 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray.
- Beat egg whites with an electric mixer on medium speed until foamy, about 1 minute; beat in cream of tartar. Increase speed to high, and beat until medium peaks form about 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of the granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form, about 2 to 3 minutes. Fold in chopped pecans and a third of the orange zest.
- Spread meringue on the bottom and up sides of a 9-inch glass or ceramic pie plate coated with cooking spray. Bake in preheated oven until lightly browned, about 1 hour. Turn off the oven and let the crust sit for another hour (or overnight)
- Whisk together the lemon juice, salt, another third of the orange zest, and remaining 1⁄2 cup sugar in the bowl with the egg yolks. Pour into a medium saucepan on low heat. Stir constantly until the mixture thickens, about 8 minutes. Do not let overcook! Remove from heat and transfer into a medium mixing bowl. Let mixture completely cool for about 15 minutes. When cooled, add the whipped topping and stir until completely blended.
- Spoon into the meringue pie shell, smoothing top. Sprinkle with the remaining third of the orange zest. Freeze 2-3 hours to set. Garnish with oranges slices. Store in refrigerator.
- Chopped Pecans: Save time by buying pre-chopped. Substitute: Walnuts, almonds, pistachios. To toast: Place the nuts in a dry skillet (don’t add oil!). Heat on medium for about 4 to 5 minutes, until golden and fragrant. (Watch carefully, the nuts go from brown to burnt very quickly!)
- Fresh lemon juice: Juicing tip: roll lemon on the counter or place in the microwave for 10 seconds. Substitute: Store-bought lemon juice
- Egg yolks: Patience is required in cooking the egg yolks, along with low heat and constant stirring. Do not turn up the heat or walk away from the pan. When the eggs start to thicken it only takes a few seconds for them to become scrambled eggs!