How to Make Vegan Meringues & Pavlovas Using Aquafaba

As an allergy mum, I have had a few disasters in the kitchen in the past couple of years, especially with desserts (understatement of the century). The most valuable lesson I have learnt is to keep it simple. The longer the list of ingredients, the more I seem to set myself to fail. Every time. Trying to figure out how to make sweet recipes vegan is what I have struggled with the most I think.

I first heard of aquafaba about a year ago. It sounds like gobbledygook, doesn’t it? It is the sort of ingredient that would normally have made me run for my life. Just trust me on this one, you should keep reading. It is life-changing (no light reading then, hey!).

If this is the first time you have heard of aquafaba, you are probably thinking it is some exotic ingredient only available in specialist shops. Please stay with me because it is not! It is commonly available and really cheap! Until a couple of months ago, I was throwing it down the drain every time I was making houmous.

Just before I reveal it all, let me show you that one ingredient, whisked. I posted a photo on Instagram in April. It was the first time I had tried whisking it.

Insta

It does look like fluffy egg whites, right?

3-Ingredient Vegan Meringues & Vegan Pavlovas Using Aquafaba - Whipped Aquafaba

OK, OK, no more teasing. Here it is: Aquafaba. “Aquafawhat?” Yes, you read this right: A.Q.U.A.F.A.B.A.

Aquafaba is the cooking liquid of beans or legumes like chickpeas and it is a brilliant egg replacer. Seriously! I know, it sounds odd, gross even, and I was dubious myself until I tried. ‘Healthy’ alternatives are not normally my cup of tea. My taste buds are not made for ‘free from’ food. I love ‘full of’ kind of food, but aquafaba is not a poor egg substitute, not what aspartame is to sugar. Aquafaba is the Rolls Royce of egg substitutes. There, I said it.

“How does chickpea juice work to replace eggs?” I hear you question. Well, to be truthful, I was wondering as well and here is what I found out after reading quite a lot about it. When chickpeas are cooked in water, various elements migrate from the seeds to the water in the process (proteins, starches…).  Just like pasta water is great for thickening sauces, the cooking liquid of chickpeas can be used as a thickener. It can also act as a gelatine replacement (think marshmallows here), egg replacer (cakes, meringues, vegan macarons), a binding ingredient (mayonnaise, cake), or even as a base for butter or cheese.

Managing to make meringues for my little girl who is allergic to wheat, eggs and nuts is my biggest success to date in the kitchen as an allergy mum. It might even top my pancake successes (and there have been a few!). If you are egg-free or know anyone who cannot have eggs, this will change your life! No doubt about it.

3-Ingredient Vegan Meringues & Vegan Pavlovas Using Aquafaba - About to Go in the Oven
Another worry I had when I started whisking was the taste. I like chickpeas, but the thought my meringues might taste like the legume was not appealing. I half-dismissed the idea, half-embraced it as I was spooning the mixture into my icing bag.

3-Ingredient Vegan Meringues & Vegan Pavlovas Using Aquafaba - Piping Bag

Whilst we are on that subject, if you want to make your life easy, place your icing bag in a pint glass to make filling easy and mess-free.

3-Ingredient Vegan Meringues & Vegan Pavlovas Using Aquafaba - Filling Piping Bag
Meringues my little girl could try. How exciting would that be if it really worked? If it did not, all it would cost me would be a tin of unsalted chickpeas (43p) from Waitrose. I would use the chickpeas to make houmous anyway so there would be no harm done if my attempt was a failure. Let me tell you something: it was not. Our vegan meringues tasted delicious. They had a slight nutty taste, but my taste-testers all agreed they were yummy (yippee!). If you wanted to hide the hints of nuttiness, you could just add a bit of vanilla extract to the meringue.

Before I got started (sorry, I digress), I looked into it a bit (Pinterest research, évidemment!), but the simple recipes did not come out looking like ‘real” meringue nests, and other recipes went against all my principles with their silly ingredients (arrowroot powder, cider vinegar) and mentions of ‘temperamental meringues’ (does not bode well!). I used to trust pretty-looking photos of food on Pinterest, but after a few Pinterest-fails, I now trust my instincts a lot more.

After a while, I just decided to ‘freestyle’ and try to make the meringues the way I always have, taking into account advice my friend Charlotte had written about making ‘normal’ meringues (keep oven closed until meringues are cold, use a star nozzle on her piping bag). I went for 3 ingredients only: unsalted chickpea brine, caster sugar and cream of tartar (optional, but it helps make the meringues light and fluffy).

3-Ingredient Vegan Meringues & Vegan Pavlovas Using Aquafaba - Beanie

Beanie (5 years 9 months) really enjoyed piping mini meringues in between the meringue nests I was making for our pavlovas.

3-Ingredient Vegan Meringues & Vegan Pavlovas Using Aquafaba - My Little Helper

To make mini pavlovas, simply whisk double cream (or the creamy part of a can of coconut milk chilled overnight for a dairy-free alternative) and add sliced strawberries on top.

3-Ingredient Vegan Meringues & Vegan Pavlovas Using Aquafaba - Pavlova

Print

3-Ingredient Vegan Meringues & Vegan Pavlovas Using Aquafaba

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 12

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup unsalted chickpea cooking liquid 150ml, aquafaba
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • Optional: ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup caster sugar 200g

Instructions

  1. Start by preheating your oven on very low (gas mark ¼ / 100°C / 210°F).
  2. Place the aquafaba in a large bowl. Using a handheld electric whisk, beat on the lowest speed until it gets foamy (2 minutes), then increase the speed to medium/high.
  3. About 2 minutes later, the foamy mixture should be getting thicker. As you are still whisking, add the cream of tartar (& vanilla extract if using it).
  4. Soft peaks should be starting to form. Add the sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time. Once all the sugar has been added, the silky meringue should form stiff peaks.
  5. Place your piping bag inside a pint glass for easy filling and then line 2 baking trays with baking paper. Pipe 6 individual meringue nests on each tray and a few mini meringues and place in the oven.
  6. Bake for 90 minutes without opening the oven door. Turn off the oven and leave the meringues to cool in there (door still shut).
  7. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

You can keep the meringues in an airtight container or freeze them.

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Easiest Vegan Meringues

 

As my lovely friend Vicki has been busy filming with Jamie Oliver (!!!), I am hosting #TastyTuesdays for her this week. Feel free to link up your recipes and restaurant reviews and share the linky love!

 

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Comments

  1. 05/07/2016 / 8:00 am

    These look incredible darling, I’ve never tried chickpea liquid but had seen this on pinterest before, I have to try it now! These look beautiful! Even better than non vegan ones! Thanks for hosting this hun, I’ve just emailed everyone xx

    • 08/07/2016 / 6:28 pm

      Thanks ma belle, you’re the best! xxxx

  2. Eb Gargano
    05/07/2016 / 9:43 am

    Wow – your meringues look amazing and how fab that your little girl can eat meringues!! I’ve heard of aquafaba but never tried making anything with it – will have to give it a go one day 🙂 Eb x

    • 08/07/2016 / 7:31 pm

      Thanks lovely. It’s such a big moment when I manage to make something we all love allergy-friendly.

  3. 05/07/2016 / 11:10 am

    I heard about aquafaba a couple of months ago but still haven’t been brave enough to try it! I do feel much more confident now though and funnily enough I mention it in the vegan carrot cake post that I’ve just written and linked up. I feel like I’m being told to give it a go!

    • 08/07/2016 / 7:28 pm

      You are, he he! It took me a year to try it. A whole year!

  4. Angela / Only Crumbs Remain
    05/07/2016 / 12:40 pm

    Aquafaba is gret isn’t it. I’ve tried it a few times now and it’s just an amazing egg substitute for a whole range of people. I recently used with great sucess in a lemon mousse which was being used to fill an elderly friend’s birthday cake.
    Angela x

    • 08/07/2016 / 7:28 pm

      It really is the only egg substitute I’ve found that works exactly like egg. It makes is so much easier to reproduce familiar recipes with no eggs.

  5. Philip
    05/07/2016 / 1:39 pm

    Yes, vegan meringues and the like work well. And going further with vegan macarons…even more heavenly.

    • 08/07/2016 / 8:46 am

      I haven’t tried making vegan macarons because my little one is allergic to almonds, but I can see it would work beautifully. I just think I’d have to sieve the chickpea brine rather than just draining it into the bowl, just to make sure the macarons are perfectly smooth. Is that how you do it, Philip?

      • Philip
        08/07/2016 / 11:32 am

        Yes sieve it and then boil it until it is thick and similar to the thickness of egg whites. Then cool. You can do this in bulk and freeze what you don’t use to save time later. And I weigh out the nuts and sugars based on the weight of the egg whites or thickened pea liquid.

        You can also use pumpkin seeds in place of almonds – just grind them and sieve them well. My fuller notes and tips for macarons are here http://wp.me/p3MwyR-b

        • 08/07/2016 / 1:53 pm

          Great tips, Philip, thanks for sharing. I had not thought of trying pumpkin seeds. I could make macarons for my little girl after all (she’s no longer allergic to seeds!).

  6. hijackedbytwins
    05/07/2016 / 1:40 pm

    I still haven’t tried aquafaba and I say this every time I read a recipe using it. I must have a go, the meringues look delicious x

    • 08/07/2016 / 7:30 pm

      My next mission is to make chocolate mousse for my girlie!

  7. Sarah Rose Gregory
    05/07/2016 / 3:49 pm

    Mouth watering meringues- I normally have mine with clotted cream but think you might have converted me yummy

    • 08/07/2016 / 6:48 pm

      Hummmm, clotted cream. You’re opening a whole new world of possibilities here!

  8. 05/07/2016 / 8:22 pm

    Did you use the chickpea brine straight from the can or do anything to it before using it? I’ve read a few aquafaba recipes and they all seem to reduce it down first – I’ve always thought that sounds like a bit of a faff and so never bothered trying. If you can use it straight from the can then I might give it a try.

    Glad you found my meringue tips useful x

    • 08/07/2016 / 8:49 am

      Hey sweetie, your tips were invaluable! I did use the chickpea brine straight from the can. You know me, I’m not into faff when it comes to cooking. I have no idea why people would want to reduce it down. It does have a nutty taste, and I’m pretty sure reducing it would only make the taste even more pronounced. Remember to keep an open mind: it won’t taste exactly like a ‘normal’ meringue (as my best friend reminded me when she tried it!).

  9. Kate gluten free alchemist
    06/07/2016 / 6:52 am

    Looking good! Well done Mel. These meringues are fab! X

    • 08/07/2016 / 8:46 am

      Thanks Kate!

  10. Monika
    06/07/2016 / 11:33 am

    I love new and simple ways of making things and these pavlovas look great!

    • 08/07/2016 / 8:43 am

      They do (if I say so myself). I got my best friend to try one and she thought they tasted horrible though. Oh well, at least my allergic girlie loves them, he he!

  11. Lins @ Boo & Maddie
    06/07/2016 / 5:52 pm

    Wow, safe to say I have never heard of this before but those meringues look so good so it must work! X #TastyTuesday

    • 08/07/2016 / 7:26 pm

      Thanks lovely! To be honest, I wouldn’t even have thought of trying had my girl not been severely allergic to eggs.

  12. Viv'Maman_Bas
    06/07/2016 / 8:38 pm

    Aquafaba!! Haha j’aurais appris quelque chose 🙂

    • 08/07/2016 / 8:42 am

      On apprend tous les jours! Alors maintenant un petit challenge pour toi. Comment tu nous traduis « aquafaba » en français ?

  13. susankmann
    07/07/2016 / 4:47 pm

    Wow these look amazing lovely. Really simple to make, but look fab x

    • 08/07/2016 / 8:40 am

      Thanks sweetie xxx

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