It was the early 80’s when, as a mother of two preteens, I enrolled in NY Restaurant School. It was there that I discovered my interest in food was a true 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 meringue.
When I graduated from NY Restaurant School, my family gifted me with fabulous items: 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 spanking 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 back 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 re-whipped. 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.
I piped more vegan meringue onto fresh berry tarts and then used my Torch to burn the meringue. Think toasted marshmallows! 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)
If you find the meringue starts to deflate before you use it all, just beat again until stiff. I have updated this and all of my aquafaba meringue recipes to use only non-alcoholic vanilla, and 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice towards the end. Any alcohol-based extracts will deflate the meringue. Use alcohol-free extracts only when the meringue is at the stiff peaks stage. I also now add 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice during the last 4-5 minutes of beating. Lemon juice is an acid which means it will further stabilize the meringue. There is no taste of lemon, but it does brighten the meringue. Add more, up to 1 teaspoon if you want to flavor the meringue.
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces) reduced and chilled chickpea liquid (Other bean liquids will work but chickpea is the most common)
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 4 ounces / 108 grams superfine sugar (or grind organic cane in a high-speed blender or spice grinder)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, optional
- A typical can of chickpeas yields 3/4 cup chickpea water. Reduce in a small saucepan over medium-high heat to 1/2 cup. Cool and refrigerate up to 3 days. Freeze for a few months. Defrost but use cold. If you are using homemade chickpea water, reduce it at least by 1/3, or until it is more viscous and thicker.
- For cookies: 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 the 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 superfine sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating 1 minute after each addition. After half the sugar is incorporated, stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a silicone spatula. Add the remaining sugar, a tablespoon at a time, until it is all used. Beat another 10 minutes or longer (up to 15), until the meringue is glossy, very thick and stiff peaks are showing on the whisk. The meringue is ready to use now in any number of ways.
- To make cookies: 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 for 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. I’ve just started adding packets of silica desiccant to the container, but I place a piece of parchment over the cookies.