I’ve never been a huge fan of meringue. A friend used to make a towering lemon meringue pie for dinner parties and everyone clamored for it. I was secretly a little phobic and queasy at the mere thought. Uncooked egg whites give me the willies in any situation, but especially in a dessert!!! And when you eat American meringue, you never know when you’re going to hit a patch of uncooked whipped egg. Ugh!!!
Swiss meringue or thoroughly baked creations are less scary, but still, the association and the eggy thing…I’ve never been a huge fan. Plus, I”m strongly averse to waste. So, unless I have a recipe calling for a quantity of egg yolks, I’m not about to make something calling for a bunch of whites. The only thing I make regularly that calls for a bunch of yolks, is lemon curd. When I make lemon curd, I often make macaroons with the whites. Which reminds me, I need to give you my macaroon recipe. Remind me!
A year or so ago, I became aware of this trend in the food world. It involved whipping the liquid from a can of chick peas or beans. I paid no attention to this at first because I am generally a late adopter owing to a suspicion of new things discovered by other people. But, eventually, when the trend got a catchy (but ridiculous) name, “aquafaba,” I tuned in enough to read about it. And reading about it make me curious and intrigued, though still suspicious. So, I did a halfhearted experiment, which resulted in an epic fail, and I decided it was bunk.
Months went by in which I felt vaguely guilty every time I poured chickpea liquid down the drain. So, I decided to freeze it instead, though I was still not planning to use it. And then, the other day, I made a chick pea salad, and decided it was time for a committed attempt to understand how this works.
My first attempt looked promising, but was, in fact, another epic fail. The liquid whipped up beautifully and looked perfect, but my little meringues fell and spread in the oven, and while tasty, were not blog-worthy. But now, I was determined. So, I did a little more reading, and defrosted my freezer stash, and tried again. This time, they turned out beautifully. They are sweet, light, crunchy, and slightly chewy, with that tooth-sticky quality that is so appealing about meringues. Bob loved them even though the whole idea made him suspicious. So, if you, like me, are interested in finding out what all this bean liquid fuss is about, stick with me, and I’ll tell you how it’s done.
Makes 20-40 meringues, depending on how big you make them.
1 can chick peas, drained, chick peas reserved for another use
2/3 cup cane or white sugar
½ tsp. vanilla or almond extract
Preheat the oven to 250°. Line two baking sheets with parchment and spray with cooking spray.
Place the chick pea liquid in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on high speed until firm peaks form. This may take anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes. With the mixer running, add the sugar, 1 tsp at a time until the mixture is shiny and the peaks are very firm.
Form meringues using a spoon or piping bag. Or use a gallon size freezer bag and cut off a corner (my method). You may make them any size you like.
Bake for 90-120 minutes until they are firm and dry to touch. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for several days.
Tips and Tricks:
*Don’t try adding stuff like cocoa or other flavorings. It might seem like a great idea, but it makes them sag in the oven.
*Make sure the peaks are really stiff. That seems to be the secret to keeping them from deflating while they bake.
*You can freeze and thaw the aquafaba and it will still whip up fine. So save that bean liquid.
*Don’t worry if it smells beany when raw, it will taste like real meringue (but not gross and eggy) when baked. I can’t explain this, but who really cares?
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