Every once in a while, you play around with some new culinary ingredient that leaves you amazed. These meringues made from canned bean liquid do just that.
“Aquafaba.” This relatively new, made-up word is the liquid in a can of beans, usually chickpeas, and normally gets drained and dumped down the drain. That’s a perfect reason to give it a try!
A trendy egg substitute
Until recently, when I heard about this ingredient, it was only a passing reference to use it as an egg substitute, but I didn’t really do much research. I had no idea how good an egg substitute it was until I started experimenting. If I can make use of something normally discarded, I will, and that was enough of an incentive for me to finally give it a try.
A wonder ingredient
There’s a good explanation of this “wonder ingredient” on the Bon Appetite website: https://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/ingredients/article/aquafaba-health-benefits
The word amazing is appropriate. The thick, gooey liquid from drained canned beans can be used in baked goods, meringues and mousses, marshmallows and macarons, mixed drinks and mayonnaise. It is even being used in commercial vegan mayonnaise!
Not an exact science
The proportion of aquafaba to use in baked goods is about 1 tablespoon to replace one egg yolk, 2 tablespoons to replace one white, and 3 tablespoons for one whole egg. This is not exact as the thickness of the bean liquid varies. If the liquid is too thin, it is supposed to be reduced on the stove until it is the consistency of raw eggs. The beans I’ve used thus far have all been quite thick, so this step was not needed.
My experiments with using aquafaba for meringue had a couple failures, even though they started out amazing and beautiful. The liquid beats up beautifully, has absolutely no aroma or taste of beans, and once the sugar and vanilla are added, taste exactly like the original.
A learning curve
Researching on-line, the recipes were fairly consistent, but the baking times varied greatly, and my oven runs rather hot. The temperatures recommended were mostly quite low, and I had a bit of trouble getting it just right. But since I was making use of something that normally gets poured down the drain, I didn’t really have a lot to lose. Right now, I have the time to experiment.
Also, I was a bit impatient and the first time, whipped the liquid until it looked like beaten egg whites, when I should have beaten it a little longer, they collapsed in the oven! Also, the use of cream of tartar, just like whipping egg whites, stabilizes the meringues which keeps them inflated during the long cook. I realized the step of shutting off the oven and letting the meringues stay put for hours to completely cool was absolutely critical in their drying out and keeping volume.
I used organic, no-salt added canned chickpeas. It yielded a little more than 4 ounces of liquid, so I used that same amount of superfine sugar. The last time I made them, I had no superfine sugar and did not want to make another trip to the store, so I used 10X, a little more volume than superfine sugar, and it turned out fine. The adding of the sugar needs to be in part according to your own taste.
I made 15 meringues and a small Pavlova. They came out crispy on the outside, slightly marshmallowy chewy on the inside, and were quite pretty to behold! They tasted exactly like an egg-based meringue, which is most remarkable! My guests who don’t or can’t eat eggs will be quite content with these!
Now, I’m going to make some hummus since I have lots of chickpeas that need to be used…
About 2 dozen
- Liquid from one can of no-salt added chickpeas
- Equal amount of superfine sugar
- 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 210 degrees. If your oven is a bit off, use a thermometer and adjust accordingly.
Open the can of chickpeas, drain the liquid, and measure it. You need the same volume of sugar.
Place the liquid in a large bowl and start beating with a hand mixer, or place in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whip. Once foamy, add the cream of tarter, and continue beating until the mixture has stiff peaks, at least five minutes, maybe a little more.
Slowly add the sugar, a teaspoon at a time. It is important that the sugar is added gradually. Continue beating another five minutes or so, until the mixture is thick, stiff peaks, and glossy looking.
For consistent size, and thus even baking, fill a piping bag fitted with a large star tip and make little mounds of meringue. You can also just use a zip-lock bag with a corner cut off and fashion little mounds. OR, pipe a large Pavlova to be filled with berries!
Bake for 75 minutes, gently check the cook by touching. It should not feel sticky. It may take up to 90 minutes to feel dry when touched. When done and just starting to color, shut off the oven, and let the meringues sit until completely cool, several hours, or overnight.
If you make one large Pavlova, bake at least two hours and probably closer to 2 1/2.
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