I am super excited. In the past five years of serious baking, I have substituted eggs in so many recipes and have got good results but I never ever dared to try one recipe. That is meringue. There was no suitable substitute whipped egg whites and I really felt very bad about it. Some recipes used ingredients which are not available in India. SO my dream of making meringue remained unfulfilled until last month. Then I came across a FaceBook group called as Vegan Meringue – Hits and Misses. The idea developed by Goose Wohlt and Joel Roessel has become the recent craze of many vegans. When I saw so many success stories in the group, I tried it too. And I was really amazed by the result. My first trial was a flop and then after a little research, the next attempt was a success. I was literally jumping with joy that day. But I didn’t take any decent photos of my first success. I uploaded it on FB and I was bombarded with likes and so many of them asked for the recipe. I promised them that it will be up in the blog with in a week and to keep that promise I made it again. My daughter was gobbling them as I was peeling them off the paper. They just melt in the mouth and if you are willing to try, then read on to know about the secret egg substitute.
We have been wasting this egg substitute for a long time now. Yes it is easily available and we really don’t know about its powers. Drum Roll!!!! The water we use to cook chickpeas or any other legumes is the substitute. It is named as Aqua Faba. So I will use that name itself. Usually they use canned chickpeas and the water which comes along in the tin is used to make meringue. But as you know we don’t get canned chickpeas easily in India. So I searched for an alternative ( most part of my life is spent in researching about alternative ingredients!!!). Then I came across slow cooking the chickpeas for 3 hours. But one member said that pressure cooking works too. The only thing is that the aqua faba needs to be thick. So I used less amount of water and pressure cooked 2 cups of chickpeas which I soaked the previous night. Aqua faba was thick. I jsut strained and allowed it to cool. For 500 gm of chickpeas, I got nearly 3/4 cup of aqua faba. You can refrigerate it or freeze it to use it later. When you beat it is behaves just like the egg whites and you need to try it to believe it. It takes 10-15 minutes to attain stiff peak stage. So be patient. Use electric beater or stand mixer for beating. Do not use hand whisk, you will end with a sore hand.
Though preparing the meringue foam is easy, baking part is relatively tough. The oven temperature is very much important. My oven is super hot and even I set it to the lowest temperature, it was extremely hot and my first attempt of making meringues failed. The aqua faba is sensitive to heat and will not hold shape if over heated. So the meringues melted and became like caramel. After going through many posts, for the next batch, I placed a wooden spoon so that the door doesn’t close fully. It takes an hour to bake and the meringues are allowed to cool inside the oven for another hour. Only when it is completely cool, you need to peel off the paper. If baked properly, it will come off the paper with ease. Other wise it will break. And the major draw back of this meringue is that it becomes soft when exposed to air. So as soon as you peel it off the baking paper, transfer to an airtight jar. And it is better to serve it on the day when you make. Don’t be disappointed if your first batch didn’t work. Do it again, and you will surely taste delicious meringues with out eggs. I made the first batch with one single tray in the middle rack and turned out perfect. For the next try, I used two trays, one on lower and one in the middle and I got some uneven results. So please use one tray at a time in the middle rack.
Aqua Faba / Chick Pea Boiled Water – 1/2 cup
Apple Cider Vinegar/ Lemon Juice-1/2 tsp
Vanilla Essence-1/2 tsp
Gel Food Colour
Preheat oven to 80°C – 100°C whichever is available in your oven.
Line a tray with baking paper.
Take the aqua faba in a bowl and add salt and vinegar.
Use a beater and beat the liquid on high until stiff peaks form. It may take 10-15 minutes to reach the stiff peak stage.
If you lift the beater, the peak should stay stiff without sagging. If you see it sagging, then beat for a few more minutes. You cannot over beat this so don’t worry.
Add sugar one teaspoon at a time and beat until incorporated.
Once all the sugar has gone in, keep on beating until the mixture is smooth.
Now add essence and food colour and beat.
Transfer the meringue to a piping bag and cut a small hole at the end.
Pipe out meringues on the paper.
Bake in the middle rack of oven for one hour.
Let the meringues cool inside the oven for another hour.
When cool, remove the meringue from paper gently and transfer to an air tight jar.