In a time when zucchini can be “noodles” and a slice of cauliflower can be a “steak,” it shouldn’t have surprised me that someone had figured out the leftover liquid from a can of chickpeas could be the answer to a vegan meringue recipe. The concept seems impossible, but you simply whip what would normally go down the drain, and within a few minutes, beautiful firm peaks will rival the delicate egg whites crafted by pastry chefs. Not only does it work, it’s pure genius.
This miraculous liquid has been labeled “aquafaba,” based on the Latin words for “water” and “bean.” Beans release proteins and carbohydrates into their cooking water, which in turn transforms that water into a viscous substance with properties similar to egg whites. While the liquid from other beans will work as well, chickpeas have the lightest color and flavor. Unlike egg whites, which a strong forearm and a little dedication can whip up to firm peaks, aquafaba requires an electric hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with a wire whisk to achieve the same results.
When making vegan meringues, be sure to select a sugar that is also vegan-friendly. Not all sugars are considered vegan, since bone char is frequently used in the refining process for granulated sugar. I tested this recipe with a vegan granulated white sugar as well as with raw cane sugar and demerara. All three worked well and yielded just slightly different flavors. I did notice the coarser sugar did make a “clicking” sound as it was incorporated into the aquafaba in the mixer. Not to worry, though, the sugar soon dissolved into the meringue and the end result was the same.
Classic vanilla meringues can be made with just a dash of vanilla extract added into the mix. However, these treats are a blank slate for your own creativity. Feel free to swap the vanilla extract for almond, orange, or mint. Food coloring can be added for variety or a dusting of sanding sugar for fun.
- Prep time 30 minutes
- Cook time 1 hour 30 minutes
- makes 3 dozen
15-ounce can chickpeas
cream of tartar
vegan granulated, demerara, or raw cane sugar
- Preheat oven to 200°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
- Drain the liquid from the can of chickpeas through a fine mesh sieve into a measuring cup. The can will yield about 3/4 cup of aquafaba. Save the chickpeas in an airtight container in the refrigerator for another use.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the wire whisk attachment, beat the aquafaba with the cream of tartar on medium speed for 3 minutes. The aquafaba will begin to increase in volume and become foamy.
- With the motor still running, gradually add the sugar, a few tablespoons at a time, until completely incorporated. Add the vanilla extract. Continue to beat at medium speed for 5 minutes until firm peaks form.
- The meringues can be formed by either dolloping heaping spoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets, or they can be piped into 1-inch rounds using a piping bag fitted with a star tip.
- Bake the meringues until completely dry to the touch. Depending on the size of your meringues, this can take up to 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
- Remove the meringues from the oven and cool completely before enjoying or storing in an airtight container.