YAY IT WORKED! VEGAN MERINGUES!!!!
Ok, so I finally managed to perfect the recipe that’s taking the vegan baking world by storm: meringues made from bean brine. Insane? Yes. Fitting? Absolutely. I don’t deny that vegans are a bunch of crazies now and again, but they manage to turn the simplest ingredients into something magical, and this is a clear example of their skill in making a plan to veganize pretty much anything that needs doing. To celebrate my good fortune I decided to also go a bit topsy-turvy and create simple, sweet but fun upside down lemon meringues. Join me for the glee!
Can you tell I’m excited? For vegetarians and the like this may not seem like a big deal but I am just beyond stoked that this madness succeeded and that I can tick it off my culinary bucket list (admittedly it only very recently appeared on my radar but I was determined!).There are some keys to success when making vegan meringues:
a. Use “real” sugar, not sweetener. All the previous fails (as in, within 10 minutes of baking) have been due to my being stubborn and using sweetener to try and be healthier and also accommodate my diabetic FIL (even if meringues aren’t his favourite thing ever). Sugar somehow condenses and helps keep the mixture firm. Don’t know why. Magic stuff. Others have had success with liquid sweeteners like maple syrup, but that’s too pricey for me to experiment with personally.
b. Use flavourings sparingly, but don’t skip it – you need to be able to whip your mixture post-flavouring back to its uber peaked state, and too much can upset the balance and require you to add more sugar (ugh).
c. Chill your brine beforehand – you’re going to beating the pants out of the brine and your electric beater or stand mixer will be overheating so rather cut down on any extra stuff that could cause the mixture to feel like being melty.
d. If you’re using a handheld electric beater give it a break every two or so minutes so that it doesn’t get overheated – meringues are a game for the patient. I personally listened to ABBA and sang at the top of my lungs to keep myself occupied.
e. The Barley Malt Extract Powder is purely optional, but I was desperate to use anything I could find in the house to firm up my mixture after the previous fails, not knowing real sugar would work wonders. I still think it did something, but omitting it is totally cool.
f. Even though, in reality, you only really use a fraction of your meringues at a time or only have so much space on your baking trays, use the full amounts because using less might make it difficult to beat (since you’ll essentially be scraping the bottom of the metal bowl). Store the rest in the fridge covered with plastic, make ice-cream (see next post!), or use it as a type of whipping cream or marshmallow filling for all sorts of things.
- Brine from 1x 400g can of chickpeas, chilled
- 1 cup castor sugar (or powdered sugar (not sweetener!) of choice) – check to see if vegan friendly or blend down vegan sugar to a fine powder
- 1 tsp cream of tartar
- 1/2 TBSP barley malt extract powder
- 1 tsp vanilla extract (or seeds from 2 pods)
- In a large metal bowl with an electric hand mixer or a standing mixer with balloon whisk, whisk the brine for approximately 5 – 6 minutes until it forms a thickish white foam, almost triple the original size. It may still gloop slightly off the beaters, that’s fine.
- Add the cream of tartar and barley powder and beat until it starts to form nice peaks.
- Start preheating the oven to 90C and line baking trays with unsprayed baking paper (not wax)
- Add the castor sugar 1/4 cup at a time and beat on high until it is thick and forms stiff peaks – you should be able to shake your beater and not have anything come off; the mixture will also *feel* thick if you use handheld. Make sure that if you’re beating by hand you move the bowl around so that everything is incorporated.
- Add in the vanilla and beat back into super stiff peaks.
- If piping, shove a star-shaped piping tip in a bag or use a clear sandwich bag and place this inside a tall glass, folding the edges over the rim of the glass.
- Scoop your mixture into the bag and then squeeze down lightly so that the mixture is at the end of the bag. If using a sandwich bag cut off a small edge.
- Pipe into small circles, starting from the inside out and making raised edges, or just a spoon and flatten the middle.
- Bake for 1/2 an hour on 90C, then increase to 100C and bake for another hour, then leave it in the oven for 1 1/2 hours until firm and crisp or overnight if possible. The gradual increase of temperature is more for old ovens like mine that skyrocket to heat – if you don’t have that issue then start and end at 100C. Also, the temperature/climate you’re baking in could affect your meringues, so if it’s super hot and muggy keep them overnight in the oven since room temperature may make them soft or change the texture.
- Store in an airtight container in a cool dry place.
- 1 cup macadamia nuts
- 2 TBSP liquid sweetener of choice
- 1/3 – 1/2 cup soy milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- Blend down your nuts to a fine meal/flour, then add the rest of the ingredients and blend until smooth.
- Store in the fridge for up to a week.
Lemon curd (slightly adapted from this recipe):
- 3/4 cup soy milk
- 1 TBSP corn starch
- 3 TBSP + 1 tsp sugar
- 5 TBSP lemon juice
- 1 tsp lemon flavouring
- 1/2 tsp yellow food colouring
- pinch salt
- Whisk the soy milk and starch in a non-stick pot on the stove over medium heat.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and whisk, then whisk every few minutes as it starts to bubble.
- Let it bubble for a few minutes then take off the stove and let it cool, storing it in the fridge.
- 1 cup GF oats
- 1/3 cup buckwheat groats, soaked overnight
- Optional: 1 TBSP hemp seeds + 1 TBSP chia seeds
- 3 TBSP applesauce
- 2 TBSP liquid sweetener of choice
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- Preheat the oven to 180C and line a baking tray.
- Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and spread it thinly across the tray.
- Bake for 15 minutes then flip over the mixture.
- Bake for another 10 – 15, making sure it doesn’t burn.
- Break up the granola and store in an airtight container.
(NOTE: Do not assemble in a large batch if you don’t plan to eat them immediately – rather store the components separately until you wish to combine them. If you layer them the meringue will collapse and become soggy in the fridge after a day or two. Always store your meringues in a cool dry place).
- Dollop 1 tsp of cream followed by lemon curd and top with granola. You don’t have to be as messy as me and the meringue holds up well to pick up and munch.
After making these I barged into the bedroom as Man-thing was getting ready to snooze and Bambi-eyed him into testing with me since I haven’t had a meringue in a decade and had no idea if it was right. He had to go brush his teeth again after but I got the seal of approval which naturally prompted squeals and a quick victory lap around the kitchen, fist-pumping and all! The next morning at 05h00 the first thing I hear is “you’ve achieved another level of consciousness” and I honestly didn’t know if I was alive or dead so I was all bzuh? and Man-thing chirps “you made meringues!”, so I guess the whole ordeal left an impression on him, even at that monstrous hour.These are fun to eat, fun to look at, and are generally my kind of treat: whimsical and layered. You can, of course, just eat the individual layers on their own, which I was very tempted to do. I froze the leftover macadamia nut butter (since I didn’t make 30+ little upside down meringues to ensure the household sugar levels didn’t sky rocket in a single day) into little moulds topped with lemon curd and homemade chocolate and that was divine!