Vegans have been using banana, apple sauce, pumpkin, flax seed and other plant-based foods to replace eggs in recipes for years, but a good replacement for egg whites in meringues has remained elusive. Commercially available egg replacers have been available for some time, but they just don’t really cut it in meringues.
Vegan food experimenter extraordinaire Miyoko Schinner had some success by extracting the mucilage (lignan) from flax seeds. However, flax seed meringues were a bit complicated and unpredictable; the foam doesn’t always hold up and the flavour of flax can be off-putting.
In 2014, Joël Roessel, a ténor from France, discovered that liquid from cooked chick peas can be whipped into a foam and used to make a vegan meringue. He shared the results on his blog at http://www.revolutionvegetale.com/. Joël says his theory is based on molecular cuisine, science and common sense! However, his recipes were a bit too technical for a wide audience relying on the addition of vegetable gums, starches and stabilizers.
Then in 2015, Goose Wohlt, a software engineer and self-confessed foodie in the US, discovered that stable vegan meringue can be made without any extra ingredients, provided the right techniques are used. He posted a simple recipe on Facebook and the rest is history!
Goose called the chick pea water ‘aquafaba’. The Facebook group Vegan Meringues – Hits and Misses! was set up to encourage discussion and experimentation with aquafaba. It has since been used to make marshmallows, macarons, nougat, cakes, choux pastry, soufflés, royal icing and mayonnaise. The official aquafaba website can be found here.