This cape gooseberry pie with mile-high meringue is a wonderfully unique pie using cape gooseberries, also known as goldenberries, and physalis. It is sweet with a subtle tart finish from the berries and a Meyer lemon twist. It will be a new family favorite!
I have a love/hate relationship with my local produce market. I don’t like them because they tend to sell a lot of off-season produce that they get from farms in other countries. What i do love about them is they always have a selection of fun produce that I don’t find in many other stores such as guavas, cactus leaves, and physalis. Physalis is also known as cape gooseberry, ground cherry or golden berry and are similar to green gooseberries and tomatillos. Most people in America probably know them as cape gooseberries, but I grew up calling them physalis. I am calling them cape gooseberries for the rest of the post so it is easier for people to understand.
It’s been a while since I last had cape gooseberries, but I loved peeling them from their husks and eating them. Something about it just made me feel cool.
The fruit is firm and full of seeds, much like a tomato, but are sweet, with a slight acidic tang. The exact flavor is hard to describe because it is so unique, but I love it paired with Meyer lemons. And because I’ve been craving a pie piled high with meringue, this seemed like the perfect opportunity. Just look at all that marshmallowy meringue on top of this cape gooseberry pie. It’s gorgeous!
Usually I have a hard time convincing my family to try new things, but it was surprisingly easy to get them to taste my cape gooseberry pie. I think it might have had to do with the fact that I was so excited and borderline demanded that everyone taste my pie. No one complained once that took a bite though. In fact, the entire pie was devoured in a day.
A few expert notes on the cape gooseberry pie
I used a metal pie plate. This affects the baking time. If you use a glass or ceramic pie plate, you will need a longer bake time.
If you do not have cape gooseberries around, that’s okay. This pie works wonderfully as a base for just about any other berry. But cape gooseberries have pectin which makes thickening the mixture easier. You may need more cornstarch if you want to use this as a base for a blueberry or blackberry meringue pie.
This recipe makes a LOT of meringue. If you don’t want a “mile-high” meringue, then you can easily half the recipe without any issues. No matter what you decide, don’t whip up the meringue until your pie is out of the oven and already getting cool for the best results. You can also experiment with different flavors you think will complement your cape gooseberries.
If you don’t have Meyer lemons, use regular lemons!
- 1¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut in cubes and frozen
- 3 - 3½ tablespoons ice cold water
- 2½ lbs cape gooseberries
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- zest and juice of one Meyer lemon
- ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 6 egg large egg whites, room temperature
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- zest of half a Meyer lemon
- Mix together the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl, or a food processor. Cut in the butter using a pastry cutter or a few pulses in the food processor. The mixture should have bits of butter about the size of peas or coarse breadcrumbs.
- Slowly add the ice cold water a tablespoon at a time. If you are using a food processor, leave it running and you drizzle the water in. The dough should just come together when you press it together. It shouldn't really feel wet to the touch, but not so dry that crumbs keep falling off when you press the dough together.
- Turn the dough onto plastic wrap and lightly flatten into a disc. Cover and chill for at least an hour (I have the best results when I leave it overnight).
- Preheat the oven to 340 degrees F. Roll out the dough until it is a large circle about ¼ inch in thickness. Place in the center of pie plate and fold in the overhang. Crimp the edges to your desired design. Place pie weight in the middle of the pie (I covered the center of mine in aluminum foil and filled with dried beans). Blind bake for 20 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. Keep the oven on.
- In a saucepan, add the ⅔ of the cape gooseberries, cornstarch, sugar, salt, zest, and juice of the lemon together along with ¼ cup of water. Heat until the berries begin to pop and form a thick syrup - about 15 minutes. Fold in the rest of the berries (you can save a few to garnish the finished pie) and cook just until they begin to pop.
- Fill the pie crust with the filling. Cover the edges of the pie crust and bake for about 20 - 25 minutes. Allow to cool completely.
- Place about an inch or two of water into a small saucepan and heat until it is steaming, but not boiling.
- Put the eggs and granulated sugar into a heatproof mixing bowl and place over the small saucepan. Make sure the mixing bowl does not directly touch the water in the pan. Mix together the egg whites and sugar until well combined and the sugar dissolves. Beat the mixture constantly while it is over the heat to prevent the eggs from cooking.
- Put the mixing bowl in your stand mixer and use the whisk attachment to beat the egg white mixture until it forms stiff peaks. Add in the vanilla and lemon and beat until combined - about another minute.
- Place the meringue over the cooled pie and use a spoon to swirl. Use a kitchen torch to toast the meringue.