Sunday, May 15, 2016

Aquafaba Meringues

I know it's coming around to the Summer "bikini season" when the treats in our staff room start getting less rich and more on the "pseudo-virtuous" side of things. While nothing that appears in our small haven away from the children could truly be classified as a nutritious choice (except the veggie tray which appeared - once - and was subsequently ignored), lighter tasting treats like raspberry coffee cake and "low fat" biscotti are cropping up to tempt our palates. With the seasonal change, it was the perfect time for me to try out a recipe that I've had saved away for a while now - vegan meringues.

Now, a few years ago, the concept of a "vegan meringue" was only contemplated by molecular gastronomes, if not considered outright laughable. However, a combination of genius, science and experimentation by several people eventually resulted in the Aquafaba (literally, "Bean Water") Meringue recipe. Since then (early 2015), subsequent other uses for the starchy cooking liquid have been tried and shared on the Vegan Meringues - Hits and Misses Facebook page - including a spiced Bundt cake that I'll be sharing soon!

Whether it's the (minimal) protein content, the starch, magic or a combination of all the above, the liquid you normally drain away from canned chickpeas and other beans whips up perfectly into a light and fluffy foam that stiffens into glossy meringue with the addition of cream of tartar and sugar - resulting in light-as air, fat free, gluten free, vegan cookies. In my opinion, using aquafaba is actually easier than using egg whites (you don't have to be as uber-careful about fat, and it's impossible to overwhip them), not to mention any "common" allergy issues would be null as well.

"Cake Batter" Aquafaba Meringues
"Cake Batter" Flavoured Funfetti Meringues

The question I first asked when thinking about using aquafaba was whether or not the finished meringues, etc would taste like beans. Well, thankfully, nothing I've made with it (regardless of the bean type) has tasted remotely of the legume it surrounded - if anything, it's exceptionally bland, taking on any and all flavourings like a sponge. The first time I whipped up AF meringues, I used the standard chickpea brine, adding pure vanilla and mint extracts and vanilla sugar, while the "cake batter" variety got a pinch of nutmeg and sprinkles with the flavour extract. Black bean aquafaba made its way into brownies (not unlike the ones from this book) and the liquid left over from cooking up some Tongues of Fire beans made a perfect carrot loaf cake. I can't wait to play some more!

Shared with Gluten Free Fridays 
 
Aquafaba Meringues
Vanilla-Mint Meringues

Aquafaba Meringues
Makes ~45
2/3 cup aquafaba*
¼ tsp cream of tartar
3/4 cup + 1/2 tbsp (150 g) superfine sugar
flavouring / colouring of choice
coloured sprinkles (optional, for "funfetti" meringues)
  1. Heat the oven to 215F (190F convection).
  2. Combine the aquafaba and cream of tartar in a stand mixer and whip on high speed until stiff peaks form - about 15 minutes.
  3. Slowly beat in the sugar one tablespoon at a time, beating at least 10 seconds between additions.
  4. When all the grittiness is gone, add 1 tsp of your flavouring of choice (I've used vanilla, mint, and even "Cake Batter") and colouring (if using) and whip to incorporate.
  5. If using sprinkles, fold in by hand.
  6. Drop or pipe the foam onto a parchment paper-covered cookie sheet (I don't recommend SilPat for meringue, it deflates it for some reason).
  7. Bake for 2 hours. Do not open the oven door during this time.
  8. Turn off the oven and cool inside for 30 minutes, then crack the door and let meringues cool to room temperature.
  9. Store the completed meringues in an airtight container.
* Have more or less than 2/3 cup of aquafaba on hand? Use the ratio of 1 part AF : 1 1/3 parts superfine sugar, plus ¼ tsp cream of tartar for every 2/3 cup AF

More info: http://aquafaba.com/

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 13.9
Total Fat: 0.0 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 0.0 mg
Total Carbs: 3.3 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.0 g
Protein: 0.0 g