Vegan Meringue

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When I saw this extraordinary mind blowing technique on Food 52, replacing egg white with chickpea liquid (they refer to it as watery dregs) we just had to try it! Dan Barber, in a project utilizing parts of ingredients that more often than not get tossed, came up with this genius technique. I can't begin to imagine how anyone could conceptualize and take the daring mental leap that the liquid in which canned chickpeas is packed could possibly support and hold air to create a mousse the way viscous egg white accomplishes so perfectly, but it does! Of course there are differences. First of all, Food 52 noted that the chickpea flavor completely disappeared on baking and we found this to be true in that no one would ever detect the actual flavor of chickpea but there is a subtle additional flavor. Also it does not hold its shape in baking quite as well so that any ridges or swirls flatten into mushroom cap smoothness. Here's the recipe as we did it:

1/3 cup/59 grams chickpea liquid (now dignified in Latin as

aquafaba

bean water)

1/2 cup/100 grams superfine sugar

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

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Preheat the oven to 250°F/120°C.

Line a baking sheet with parchment. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the chickpea liquid and sugar and use the whisk beater by hand to stir it together. Attach the whisk beater. Starting on low speed, and gradually increasing to high, beat for 15 minutes until fairly stiff peaks form when the beater is raised. They will droop slightly.

Place a dab of meringue underneath the parchment in the center to keep it stationary. Use two large tablespoons or pipe mounds onto the parchment.

Bake 40 to 50 minutes. At 50 minutes, Woody pressed one and it was not yet crisp so we continue baking another 10 minutes. This caused the meringue to begin to brown and become less smooth but still not crisp, however, after removal from the oven and cooled they became perfectly crisp. (We should have taken them out at 50 minutes.) Thus encouraged we decided to try our praline meringue ice cream sandwich cookie recipe which uses brown sugar. The mixture did not form stiff peaks but tasted absolutely delicious. The meringues cracked during baking, which they normally do, but looked puffy and promising. Sadly, on cooling, they deflated and the centers were gooey liquid even on further baking.

We are not vegans but if we were, we would find that the meringues made with aquafaba and superfine sugar, which are delicate and light, are a perfectly acceptable substitute for the egg white variety.