I’ve become a little obsessed with making vegan meringue of late. Even though I totally get the science of it there’s still something about the process that feels like witchcraft.
My rational brain tells me that it’s perfectly normal for some of the carbohydrates and proteins in chickpeas to transfer into the water in which they’re cooked. But that doesn’t stop the sense of child-like wonder that fills me as I watch that murky liquid turn into a bright white foam in my food mixer. I should probably point out here that I remain amazed how egg whites behave under the same conditions, but the transition of aquafaba to meringue seems infinitely more magical. I guess it’s because eggs have always been used this way – at least throughout my life. Aquafaba is still very much the new kid in town. To think I used to tip it down the drain…
It’s a good job that I’m feeling the baking love right now. This is the perfect time of year to be whipping up a storm in the kitchen. As we approach Christmas I can’t help but make more edible treats for my friends, family and colleagues. I don’t always need an excuse either; I’ll jump at any opportunity to turn up with a random container of baked goods. I presume they’re thankful for it, as very little ever goes to waste.
Though from time to time a good excuse to get baking comes my way. We recently had a charity bake sale in the office and I couldn’t help but get involved. I made lovely-yet-quite-traditional Orange and Cinnamon Cake (for which a recipe may come one day in the future) and these rather attention-seeking Vegan Meringue Kisses. You gotta mix things up sometimes, no?
The vegan meringue kisses themselves are ridiculously easy to make. All you need is a few storecuboard ingredients and a decent whisk. My very generous parents have bought me an amazing new stand mixer as a Christmas present, which has made my baking so much easier – especially for meringues! However, a decent hand mixer will still give you the same results. You just need a little more patience. The process is basically the same as making a normal meringue, but it just feels like it takes a little longer to get there.
In my experience the uncooked mixture is a little less stiff than an egg white meringue. This makes piping intricate shapes tricky, as even the most elaborate nozzle will still result in a smooth meringue once its baked. You may have more success than me in this area, though the flavour remains the most important thing here. I like my vegan meringue to be simple and sweet, so sugar and vanilla is all I add. You could probably skip the vanilla but I find that there’s a distant hint of chickpea flavour when it’s omitted.
Whether or not you go all out on colour is up to you. I’ve used Wilton colours here (checking the ingredients online to be sure they’re vegan) and as you can see they’re rather vibrant. A few drops of decent food colouring goes a long way it would appear. The uncooked meringue was nowhere near as bright as the end result. Not that I’d change a thing, as if there’s one time of year you can get away with this sort of behaviour it has to be Christmas.
The Vegan Meringue Kisses are quite lovely on their own. With a crisp outer shell and an instantly dissolving centre. They just disappear as you eat them. Here I’ve sandwiched them together with a brown sugar frosting, to make them feel a little more special and add a rather grown up flavour. If you’ve not had brown sugar buttercream before then you’re seriously missing out. It has a lovely sweet caramel flavour with a slightly burnt undertone reminiscent of butterscotch. It’s a flavour I rather like now, but if I was given butterscotch Angel Delight as a child my reaction would be anything but positive.
Of course, whether or not you choose to fill them or serve them plain is up to you. As far as I’m concerned the bigger question is what to do with the leftover chickpeas that came floating around in the aquafaba…
Vegan Meringue Kisses with Brown Sugar Frosting
For the Vegan Meringue Cookies
- 150 ml Aquafaba see note
- ½ tsp Cream of Tartar or Lemon Juice
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 175 g Caster Sugar
- Vegan-suitable Food Colouring optional
For the Brown Sugar Frosting
- 150 g Vegan Margarine at room temperature
- 200 g Icing Sugar sifted
- 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 2 tbsp Soft Dark Brown Sugar
Make the Meringue Cookies
- Pre-heat the oven to 120°C.
- Line 2 baking sheets with non-stick baking paper and put to one side.
- Put the aquafaba into a large, very clean bowl, along with the cream of tartar (or lemon juice). It’s important that the bowl is dry and free of any grease as this will affect the quality of the meringue. Beat with an electric whisk, or stand mixer, on a medium-high setting until light and fluffy.
- When the mixture starts to form soft peaks begin to add the sugar, 1 tbsp at a time. Continue to mix until it has been fully incorporated and the meringue has become firm and glossy – forming stiff peaks.
- Add the food colouring and mix one more time, until the colour is even throughout the meringue.
- Spoon the meringue mixture into a piping bag with a large star-shaped nozzle. Pipe rosettes of the mixture onto the prepared baking sheets, trying to keep them all the same size.
- Carefully transfer the baking sheets to the oven, and bake for 1 hour. After that first hour turn off oven and leave the meringues in the oven as it cools for a further hour, making sure to not open the door.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature, before transferring to an airtight container and storing in fridge until ready to fill with the frosting. These should remain crisp and light in the fridge for a few days. They will start to soften after being exposed to the air, so try and keep them in an airtight container whenever possible.
Make the Brown Sugar Frosting
- Put the vegan margarine into a bowl and mix with an electric whisk, or in a stand mixer, until light and fluffy.
- Add the icing sugar 1 tablespoon at a time until the mixture becomes light and fluffy.
- Add the vanilla extract and brown sugar, then mix again until fully combined with the frosting.
- Spoon the mixture into a piping bag with a large star-shaped nozzle. Pipe a generous amount of frosting onto the flat side of a meringue cookie, then sandwich with a second cookie. Repeat this process until you’ve used up all of the meringues.
- Transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge until ready to serve. Bring back to room temperature for half an hour or so before serving.
|Estimated Values per Serving|
|of which Saturates||1||g|
|of which Sugars||20||g|
|Note: Nutritional information shown is per serving of the above recipe. Any side dishes or garnishes shown in photos are not included in these values, unless they are specifically listed as part of the recipe.|