It all started less than a month ago. Goose Wohlt experimenter, engineer, and food lover from Indiana, US, posted a picture of vegan meringues in the Facebook group What Fat Vegans Eat. Goose’s said: “dead simple delicious two ingredient whole food meringues… one can chickpea brine mixed w half cup sugar. perfect-O”. Soon after that, Rebecca Stucki started a new Facebook group called Vegan Meringue – Hits and Misses. In just a couple of weeks, this group has attracted nearly 2,000 members! I made my first batch of meringues yesterday and it is not a hoax! You can make meringues with the canning liquor from tinned chick peas!!! It whisks up just like egg white! My limited understanding is that with egg meringue, it’s the unfolding proteins, produced from a good whisking/beating, that form the scaffolding structure of a meringue. The gaps in the scaffolding are then filled with sugar molecules. When you slowly heat the meringue the water evaporates leaving a crispy, crunchy texture. Too much heat causes the water to expand and evaporate too fast and make the inside hollow. Now, with chick pea canning liquor it’s hard to know if it’s the same principle… it would seem that there are proteins in the juice as people who use juice from home-cooked beans don’t appear to have the same results as those using canning liquor (into which the beans have had a lot more time to leach protein). The role of starch/carbohydrate is unclear. With eggy meringue, it is advised that you use a copper bowl. One reason for using a copper or glass bowl is that plastic bowls may have traces of fat on them – fatal to an eggy meringue. Fat seems not to be such a problem for this type of meringue (chick peas themselves contain 10 times as much fat as egg whites, but it is unclear about how much is in the canning liquor). Copper ions from a copper bowl can bind to a protein in egg (conalbumin) and strengthen it. Adding lemon juice/vinegar/cream of tartar before the sugar provides acid which may slow the newly unfolded proteins bonding together and permit even more air to be whisked in – this may or may not help with canning liquor depending on the protein content I suppose… Anyway, I whisked up the gooey water from a can of Napolina chick peas. First it went bubbly then it thickened and went white and formed peaks – just like egg whites! I then added some cream of tartar (I think I added too much – it should just be a couple of pinches). Then I added half a cup of caster sugar, adding it a bit at a time to avoid collapsing the mix. The result was a thick and glossy meringue. I piped out little blobs on a sheet of baking paper and baked at 100°C for two hours. Then I left them in the oven to cool – just unclick the door, don’t open it. It is astonishing – I have meringues! This opens a whole new world of vegan desserts – Pavloa, Lemon Meringue Pie, Key Lime Pie, Soufflé, Macaroons, Chocolate Mousse, Baked Alaska…. As the lovely Edwyn Collins would say “The possibilities are endless!”
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