So, I think everyone on the internet is now aware that you can make meringues out of chickpea cooking water, right? You take the water from a can of chickpeas, or just the water from cooking chickpeas from scratch, and then you add a pinch of cream of tartar and whip it like egg whites until it goes all soft-peakish. Add sugar, and hey presto – you have a meringue!
I read about this on Thursday and I am now OBSESSED with chickpea meringues. So far, I have made one batch of meringues which didn’t work too well (I had the heat too high, and I don’t think I beat them long enough, and then I had to leave Andrew in charge of them when I went to choir, and he was overly cautious about making sure they had dried out, so they wound up burnt), one batch of chickpea macarons which looked fantastic until about halfway through the cooking process, when they collapsed in a hilarious mess, and one batch of absolutely perfect chickpea meringues.
The trick, it seems, is to remember that chickpea foam is weaker than egg-white foam – less protein, presumably – and so they need longer beating, longer to absorb the sugar, and a longer time under lower heat in the oven than their eggy relatives. Which, I realise, might make chickpea meringue an excellent candidate for the Forgotten Pudding treatment. In any case, I have a head full of experiments (Chickpea meringues made from the water leftover after cooking saffron chickpeas! Chickpea souffle! Actual successful macarons! Black bean meringues – will they turn out grey? The possibilities are endless…), so you can expect to see a lot of chickpea-related recipes on this blog in the near future.
But let’s start with a fairly simple recipe, so that you, too, can make vegan meringues in the comfort of your own home…
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One 400g tin of chickpeas, or 175 ml cooking water from chickpeas you’ve cooked yourself
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1 1/3 cups of caster sugar
a few drops of vanilla extract
200g dark chocolate (I prefer Lindt 70%)freeze-dried raspberries, freeze dried blueberries, pistachios, or hundreds and thousands for dipping purposes.
Now what will you do with it?
Put a sieve over a large glass or metal bowl, and tip the contents of your tin of chickpeas into the sieve. Leave for a few minutes to make sure all the liquid drips through. Set aside your chickpeas for later use (I suggest this chickpea and roast vegetable salad), and continue to make your meringues!
Preheat the oven to 100°C (fan forced is good), and line three trays with baking paper. If you are like me, you will probably halve the recipe, because it gives you a more manageable outcome, and you can then use the other half of the chickpea water to experiment with macarons. Just remember that one tin of chickpeas gives you about 5-6 egg-whites worth of chickpea water.
But I digress! Add the cream of tartar to the chickpea water in the bowl, and begin to whisk.
It will look very unpromising initially, and will smell strongly of chickpeas. (Don’t panic, this flavour dissipates significantly during baking – your final product will taste slightly nutty and will have an affinity with middle eastern flavours, but will be otherwise normal.)
Keep whisking your chickpea foam until it reaches the soft peak stage. This will take a little longer than it does for eggs, but don’t panic, it will happen. As far as I can see, stiff peaks are not really achievable with chickpea foam.
Add the sugar gradually – in at least four batches, beating each time until you can’t feel any grains of sugar when you rub some of the meringue between your thumb and forefinger.
This will take time – two or three minutes – but it’s really worth making sure you let the sugar dissolve, you get a much better meringue that way.
Take a piping bag and nozzle of your choice, and pipe meringues in a form that pleases you onto the baking sheet. I like to keep my meringues fairly small – maybe 5cm across.
Bake for about 90 minutes, or until crisp but still a bit delicate – letting them dry out completely during cooking gives a burnt, bitter flavour. Letting them sit in the oven to cool and dry out there seems to work just fine.
You can eat them plain, but where is the fun in that? Exactly, it’s nowhere. So, once your meringues are cool, melt the chocolate in your microwave or in a double boiler on the stove top.
Crush your freeze-dried fruit or finely chop your pistachios or nuts, or just pour your coating of choice onto a small plate.
Dip the base of each meringue into the chocolate (which makes it crackle alarmingly, and I don’t know why), and then press it gently onto your plate of freeze dried fruit.
Set down on a tray lined with baking paper to dry and set. Don’t put them in the fridge, the moisture will make your meringues go soft!
Serve with pride.
These meringues are vegan, gluten-free and nut-free! I don’t think even chickpeas can make a meringue low GI, and of course, they are not for the FODMAP-phobic.
You can dip them in anything or leave them plain. You can also flavour (and colour) them before baking – I think these would be lovely with rosewater or orange flower water and cardamom, to complement their faint nutty flavour.