It was the early 80’s when, as a mother of two preteens, I enrolled in NY Restaurant School. There I discovered that my interest in food was a passion. I was not yet vegan then, but I am certain that my schooling in traditional technique informed and improved the vegan desserts I would go on to create. One of my favorite recipes pre-vegan was mushroom meringues, but they were made using egg whites, so after I went vegan I never made those cookies again – until a few months ago, when I tried aquababa (bean liquid) meringue. I was astonished as I watched the bean water and sugar expand into a stiff and glossy and delicious merengue.
When I graduated from NY Restaurant School, my family gifted me with fabulous gifts: an 11 pound block of dark chocolate, a scale and a KitchenAid Stand Mixer. This mixer, despite heavy use, never needed a single repair in over 30 years, until about 4 months ago when it just stopped working. The timing was very bad as I had to get right to work on recipes for my upcoming Rouxbe Vegan Desserts Course. What could I do, but get another KitchenAid Stand Mixer asap? And so I did!
I couldn’t wait to try out my spanky new candy apple red KitchenAid. In honor of the old and the new, I decided to make Mushroom Meringues from chickpea water, or as it is popularly known, aquafaba. Into the mixer went the ingredients, the whisk attachment was connected, and I tell you, I stood there transfixed. I almost couldn’t believe what I saw. From 1/2 cup of chickpea water, a bit of cream of tartar, and finely ground organic cane sugar, I watched perfectly stabile meringue mounding. I was transported nack in time to culinary school, but with major differences. In addition to the obvious – no eggs were used to make this compassionate meringue, I could taste it without concern that salmonella was lurking in raw egg whites. Chickpea meringue is easier to make than the egg white variety, since there is no worry about overbeating. In fact the resulting meringue can be rewhipped. Another plus, the meringue is gluten-free and likely you’ll be eating more chickpeas too.
Thank you to KitchenAid for making an excellent, reliable mixer. Thank you to Joël Roessel, the French tenor credited with the first blog post about vegetable foams. Goose Wohlt expanded upon and popularized the discovery, which he named aquafaba (bean water). For everything aquabafa, check out the aquafaba website and the FB community Vegan Meringue – Hits and Misses.
The basic meringue recipe calls for beating the aquafaba first with cream of tartar (or lemon juice) until stiff before starting to add the sugar. I mix the aquafaba and cream of tartar until opaque first, and then start adding the sugar. (I bet that is because of my previous training). Try both ways, and see what works best for you. Whatever you do, add the superfine sugar slowly.
I piped more vegan meringue onto fresh berry tarts, and then used my Torch to burn the meringue. Think toasted marshallow!I would love to know if you are using aquafaba, and if so, what you make with it! Please share with us.
Aquafaba Meringue Cookies (Chickpea Meringue)
- 4 ounces chickpea liquid: use cold. (I used to reduce the liquid, but I found it unnecessary most of the time. Watch for another blog post)
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 6 ounces superfine sugar (organic cane sugar ground in high speed blender or spice grinder)
- Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle. Preheat oven to 225F. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment.
- To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment add the chilled chickpea liquid and cream of tartar. Start beating on medium, and then increase to high. Beat until the mixture is opaque.
- Start adding the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating 1 minute after each addition. After half the sugar is incorporated, stop machine and scrape down sides of bowl with silicone spatula, and then add the vanilla. Add the remaining sugar, a tablespoon at a time, until it is all used. Beat another 10 minutes, or the meringue is glossy, very thick and stiff peaks are showing on the whisk.
- Pipe (I used an Ateco 866 tip) rounds onto parchment lined sheet pans. Bake 1 hour.
- Remove from the oven when meringues are dry. After a few minutes, they will lift off the baking sheet. Cool completely.
- Store cooled cookies in an airtight container up to 2 weeks.
Note: On humid or rainy days, meringues may be sticky. If so, allow the meringues to cool in a turned-off oven for an additional hour without opening the door, then transfer them immediately to airtight containers.