Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Vegan Meringues

Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you'll have probably heard of the latest happening in the vegan world: chickpea meringues. I'm not talking about chickpea-flavoured meringues, I'm talking about meringues made from the water from a tin of chickpeas!
I know it sounds a little weird, but vegan food blogger Goose Wohlt saw a French video in which chocolate mousse was created using the whipped chickpea water. Goose Wohlt coined the term aquafaba for this liquid (loosely, Latin for water = aqua, bean = faba.). The news that vegan meringues could be made this way spread like wildfire amongst the online vegan community, with a dedicated Facebook group set up for people to share their recipes, successes and failures. I have never made egg meringues and I have only attempted vegan meringues once before using a commercial egg replacer but I did not have much success. After seeing some amazing pictures in the Facebook group, I couldn't wait to have a go myself.
I have made chickpea meringues twice now and both times they have been a huge success. They are lovely and crisp and they melt in your mouth. They have been a hit with my friends and family - my omnivore sister said that they tasted better than egg meringues! I followed the basic guideline recipe from the group, which suggests using the drained liquid from one 15oz can of chickpeas (1/2 to 3/4 cups) plus about 1.33 times the volume of your liquid in sugar.
The first time I used 1/2 cup of chickpea water and 1 cup of caster sugar. I used a lot of sugar as the chickpeas I used contained salt and I didn't want to be able to taste it. Whilst the meringues turned out really well, I could slightly taste the salt in them. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love the combination of sugar and salt (I was mixing my sweet and salty popcorn way before you could buy packets ready made!) but I didn't think it tasted right in the meringues. I piped the first batch into nests and they held their shape really well. I was going to eat them with berries and whipped soya cream, but I didn't have any in the house and I didn't have any coconut milk in to make coconut cream either, so I made up some warm chocolate sauce. They were still delicious though! I crushed the leftover meringues up and sprinkled them on top of some lemon cupcakes which were so good.
The second time I made the meringues, I used unsalted chickpeas (Co-op's own brand) and they tasted so much better. This time, I still used 1/2 cup chickpea water but I used less than 1 cup of caster sugar. I'm not sure on the exact amount, I just added the sugar a tablespoon at a time until the meringue mixture was really thick and started clinging to the beaters. I would suggest just playing around with the amount of sugar you use depending on how sweet you like your meringues, but I have found more sugar equals a stiffer mixture. Plus it's totally fine to try the mixture to test its sweetness since there's no icky raw egg whites in there! I attempted to make lemon meringue ice cream with the amazing ice cream maker I got for Christmas but it didn't turn out so well. It still tasted amazing but the texture wasn't quite right, but once I've perfected the recipe I will share it here.
Here is the basic meringue recipe that I have been using. The key things to remember when making vegan meringues is that the bowl and utensils must be spotlessly clean as oil/fat inhibits peaks from forming. Therefore any flavourings you add must not be oil based. You will also need time and patience when whisking your meringue mixture in order to achieve the desired effect.
Basic Vegan Meringue Recipe 
  1/2 cup water drained from a tin of chickpeas (aquafaba)
    1/2 - 1 cup of caster sugar
1. Pour the aquafaba into a large bowl and whip using an electric whisk or food mixer until it turns white and foamy - the soft peak stage. This could take a few minutes, so be patient.
 2. Keep whisking the aquafaba and slowly add the sugar about a tablespoon at a time, making sure you mix it in well before adding the next spoonful. The mixture should look glossy and hold its shape in stiff peaks. Try turning your bowl upside down; if the mixture doesn't pour onto your head, it's ready!
 3. Once you are happy that your mixture is stiff enough, taste it to see if it is sweet enough for your liking, then add more sugar if necessary. Make sure the mixture isn't gritty, if it is then whisk it a little more.
4. Spoon or pipe your meringues onto a baking tray covered with baking parchment. Bake at around 100C/215F for 90 minutes.
5. When the meringues are done, turn the oven off and leave them in to cool to room temperature with the oven door ajar.
6. Store the meringues in an airtight container. They should stay fresh for a few days. 
I can't wait to experiment with more meringue recipes such as pavlova, lemon meringue pie and macaroons! Let me know if you have a go at making vegan meringues, I'd love to hear how they turn out.
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  1. I think this looks amazing. But...doesn't it taste a tiny bit like chickpeas?

    1. Nope! The chickpea smell is a bit off-putting when whisking the liquid but you can't taste it in the finished meringues. I guess if you added some vanilla or other flavourings it would sound more appetising x

  2. Wow. Thanks for sharing. I never thought these were even possible. I've seen a lot of normal meringues with funky flavours so maybe we can make some strange flavoured vegan ones.

    1. Hmm how about kale flavour? Haha x

  3. Wow. Thanks for sharing. I never thought these were even possible. I've seen a lot of normal meringues with funky flavours so maybe we can make some strange flavoured vegan ones.


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