It’s a miracle of culinary science! Murky gloopy water from a can of chickpeas turns into beautiful white meringue that’s easy to whisk or pipe, and delicious! Yes, really. There have been the usual obligatory test-batches and controlled tastings. Controlled in that we tried not to eat too many. Lol. Meringue kisses are so cute and moreish. Anyway details of the aquafaba phenomenon and taste tests later but let’s just say that results were so positive I’m sharing this amazing discovery with you: how to make vegan meringue from just aquafaba (bean water) and sugar, with a little optional pure vanilla extract. In the continuing spirit of kitchen experiments there are also easy instructions for my first striped coloured meringue kisses and some ideas for meringue-based vegan desserts. Plus there’s a list of 10 reasons for making these, even if like me you’re not actually vegan. Maybe you’re just a curious soul who wants to see bean water turn into yummy meringue cuties!
Helpful Aquafaba info and sources
Joël Roessel is credited with first discovering bean water’s potential as a foaming agent in 2014. Then others started experimenting with it and you can find out more about the history and exciting new developments from the experts at The Official Aquafaba Website, the original Vegan Meringues – Hits and Misses facebook group and a Wikipedia article on Aquafaba.
Lazy Cat Kitchen’s recipe Vegan meringue kisses uses beetroot as a colourant and includes a section on how to make your own bean water from fresh chickpeas. This is useful if you can’t find unsalted chickpeas in a can. I finally had to use a low-sodium can with 0.1g of salt to every 100g. It worked fine but there was some testing just to make sure …
The aquafaba meringue tests
The first chickpea meringue kisses I made with my niece tasted a little odd, though we did keep eating them. Addictively odd and not puddles as we’d feared they might be, they had a great texture and shape. The darker ones tasted of caramel but things weren’t quite perfect.
So in the next batch there was more sugar and pure vanilla extract (plus some red stripes). A whole new set of cake testers (my work colleagues) took taste challenge number 2. Since they’re teachers embarking on a new term and the energetic battle to impart knowledge to kids, a little sweet stuff seemed appropriate. They enjoyed them and never guessed the main ingredient alongside sugar. One thought egg whites were involved and another declared they liked them because they’re less sweet than usual meringues! They eagerly accepted more meringue kisses. Yay! Well they passed the taste test. 🙂
But why would you make vegan meringue?
- You’re vegan. Obviously the main reason, which could be based on ethics or religion.
- You’re not vegan but want to make them for vegan family members or friends. Very nice.
- You’re allergic to eggs or avoid them for other dietary reasons.
- You enjoy experiments in the kitchen, usually non-explosive ones.
- You have young kitchen helpers who will enjoy seeing murky, gloopy chickpea water turning white and fluffy. My 12-year-old niece and I did have fun.
- You’d like a meringue that’s nicer to make and pipe. It’s impossible to overwhisk aquafaba meringue and for some reason piping the mixture is really easy (even with a nozzle in a small plastic freezer bag)!
- You’re keen to join the anti-food waste campaign by using the water from your chickpea can that’s usually thrown out (um … don’t forget to do something with the chickpeas).
- You see yourself amazing family and friends. They’ll eat your aquafaba meringues then try to guess the main ingredients. My work colleagues had no idea. None at all. Neither did I two weeks ago.
- You require a new topic of conversation or an ice-breaker and about 10 minutes’ interaction with an innocent bystander. Particular effective if that bystander turns out to be vegan or a foodie.
- You’ve run out of eggs (all the shops are closed) but do have a can of chickpeas. And you want meringues RIGHT NOW. 🙂
So why would you make aquafaba meringues? My main reasons were numbers 2, 4 and 5. But all the above could be valid for me, except I’m not vegan or allergic to eggs. But my main motivation was to see if aquafaba meringue works! And it does. It’s a miracle!!! Yes, based on proteins and science. If you haven’t already maybe you’re interested in trying it for yourself. So here’s the recipe.
- Preheat the oven to 120°C/250°F (static, non-convection oven) or 100°C/210°F (fan-assisted oven)
- Prepare a baking tray (30x40cm) by placing baking paper on it
- Get your medium-large nozzle (French size 10 to 12) and disposable piping bag ready.
The ratio of bean water to sugar can vary. More sugar can mean grainier, sweeter meringues while less sugar could create very light meringues that spread too much. Since it also depends on your own kind of aquafaba you’d need to experiment but it seems fairly flexible. The quantities below worked for me but I’ll try with a little less sugar next time (125g/1/2 cup).
- 100g/1/2 cup water from a can of chickpeas (at room temperature), drained with a sieve
- 140g/1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon caster/superfine sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar (optional, to help stabilise the whites and make them easier to whisk to stiff peak)
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, to taste (options: rose water, orange blossom water)
- natural red food colouring (optional) to make stripes, or some other colour
- Whisk the chickpea water with the cream of tartar (if using) in a large bowl at medium-high speed using a stand-mixer, eletric whisk or a hand whisk (you’ll need to whisk long and hard). Keep whisking till you get soft peak.
- Now start adding the sugar gradually, little by little, whisking well between each addition.
- Add the vanilla extract or other flavouring and keep whisking hard until you get stiff peak – when you turn the bowl upside-down the mixture doesn’t slide out.
- Now pipe or spoon your meringue onto a baking tray lined with baking paper/parchment. You can make meringue nests, fingers, kisses, discs, etc. If you want striped meringue kisses use a fine paintbrush to paint two lines of food colouring, one on each side inside your disposable piping bag. I used liquid natural red colouring then went over the lines a few times to make sure there was enough there, but actually not a lot is necessary.
- Place in the oven and immediately lower the heat to 100°C/210°F (static, non-convection oven – lower the heat 10 degrees if they start to brown rapidly) or 90°C/195°F (fan-assisted oven), DON’T OPEN THE OVEN DOOR FOR THE FIRST 70 MINUTES, and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes to 2 hours. If they are dry on top and underneath, they’re ready to come out. The bottom of your meringues should be dry enough that you can take them off the paper. If you’ve baked them for a long time and they still seem soft just do the next step, which should help dry them.
- Once your meringues are done switch off the oven and open the door slightly (stick a fork or spoon handle in there to keep it open). Leave the meringues to dry in the oven for around 20 to 30 minutes (until they feel dry, then take out before they start getting soft again!). Tada! Aquafaba egg-free meringues!
Taking care of aquafaba meringues
Aquafaba meringues take a lot of rumble and tumble while you’re making them. But once they’re baked they need a bit of extra TLC because they can go soft very quickly if left in the open air. So as soon as they’re cool (or almost cool) hustle them into a glass airtight jar. They should stay dry and crisp in there for at least a few days in the right environment (they did in fairly humid Autumn Barcelona). And if you make meringue nests or ice-cream cakes take care moving them around even when frozen, because the meringue gets pretty soft. To recap, beware of air and fridge/freezer humidity.
What to do if your meringues go soft
I was a little slow getting one batch into a jar. Oh dear. They were softening up and everything. If this happens put them back in the oven at the temperature they were baked at (or lower). Leave them in there 5 to 10 minutes (or more) until they become crispy again. Switch off the oven and let them cool a little inside (with a spoon holding the door slightly ajar, a centimetre or so). As soon as they’re ‘almost’ cool get them in the jar! When they’re not hot to touch and not sticky yet!
Things to do with your vegan meringue
Okay, so you’d like a nice dessert with your new vegan meringue friend. Little vacherins glacés could be an option. Fill with dairy-free ice-creams or sorbets, and decorate with dairy-free cream.
Unfortunately, there’s that whole softening in the freezer thing but I still really really enjoyed eating them. Yum yum. You should probably add the meringue and fruit elements at the last minute so the meringue is crisp and the fruit aren’t frozen solid.
Another idea would be to make little meringue nests and store them in the airtight jar. Then at the last minute take out the nests, fill with your dairy-free ice-cream, sorbets, cream and fruit. Serve immediately. And if your meringue is delicate and starts breaking up (I’m sure it won’t) you’ll be serving ice-cream Eaton mess. Yay!
Meringue kisses are lovely as cake decoration but again, so they stay crispy place these vegan ones at the very last minute (maybe not more than 10 minutes before, depending on the environment).
The Aquafaba community say to spread the word about this exciting vegan ingredient, so please feel free to initiate a conversation about it somewhere. And I’m sharing these treats with Free from Fridays hosted by Emma@Freefromfarmhouse. You can visit and find lots of great ‘free-from’ recipes there!
Do help yourself to a few crispy delicious vegan meringue kisses made from chickpea water.
Must dash now. Need to make something with those chickpeas before they go off. Lol. Have a lovely week with some fun experiments, surprises and sweet things dear reader! Happy baking and eating! 🙂 Lili x
P.S. Have you made aquafaba meringue? Any tips to share? If you haven’t, do you think you’ll make some one day? I’m just curious… and if you make them do let me know how it goes!