Kids With Food Allergies introduces 2nd Generation Allergy Mom, AKA Eileen Rhoadarmer, who writes about her own and her children’s food allergies from her home in Colorado. Eileen’s blog about vegan meringue recently lit up our Food and Cooking Forum and inspired a lot of late night testing. We invited Eileen to share her experiments here on our blog:
Action-Packed Fun with Vegan Meringue, 3 Ways!
There’s a word I’ll bet you haven’t heard before. That’s because it was newly coined by Goose Wohlt, the originator of vegan chickpea meringue.
That’s right, VEGAN meringue! Aquafaba (latin: water=aqua, bean=faba) is the liquid/juice/brine in a can of beans, which can be whipped up just like egg whites into a meringue that is entirely free of egg! In fact, it’s free of all of the top 8 allergens!
Until a few weeks ago, I figured that meringue was something I would never share with my egg-allergic son. But as I watched the opaque, gelatinous liquid swell in size and take on a stiff, white, glossy appearance, I was hooked. I’ve made five batches already!
What excites me most is all the possibilities. People have used this to make lemon meringue pie, macaroons, mousse, even marshmallows!
Here is the basic recipe:
• The liquid from one 15oz can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
• ½ cup granulated sugar
• ½ tsp cream of tartar or xanthan gum (optional, but I’ve found it helps the meringue hold its shape)
• ½ tsp vanilla extract or other flavoring (also optional, but without it your meringue will have a subtle beany flavor)
Add the bean brine (you’ll have anywhere from ½ cup to ¾ cup) and vanilla to a large bowl.
Emphasis on LARGE (it expands quite a bit). Beat on high speed until the mixture becomes foamy.
Add the cream of tartar or xanthan gum, and then add the sugar, a little bit at a time while beating continually. Allow the sugar time to incorporate each time. Continue beating on high for a total of about 10-15 minutes, until the mixture forms stiff peaks.
Pipe or spoon the meringues onto a lined baking sheet. Emphasis on LINED! (If it fails for any reason, you’ll have a sticky mess if it isn’t lined.) If you want to include any add-ins, gently fold them in by hand and then spoon them onto your lined baking sheets.
Bake at 200 degrees for an hour, then turn off the oven but leave them inside for at least two hours. This allows them to fully dry out. I’ve seen variations from 175 to 225 degrees, baking times up to 2 hours, and cooling/drying times from a few minutes to overnight. You may have to experiment to see what works with your oven/altitude/climate.
Store in an airtight container, especially if you live somewhere humid.
Pretty amazing, right? But wait, what if you have a chickpea allergy?
Since this recipe went viral, people with chickpea allergies have come out of the woodwork. Well, there’s good news! If you’re allergic to chickpea (or don’t like them) you can still make vegan meringue so long as you aren’t allergic to all legumes. I’m an experimental person, so I did a side-by-side comparison.
I’m not a bean person by nature, so I chose the first two white bean varieties I found: great northern beans and white kidney beans. I also did another batch of chickpea, just so I could compare them directly. I piped flowers and star dots, alphabet letters, and added Enjoy Life mini chips to each variety. I kept all other aspects of the recipe the same for each.
There were several differences in the way they turned out:
Beating time was a major factor. Chickpea took 13 ½ minutes, great northern took 20, and white kidney took 21 ½.
I don’t have a stand mixer, folks! This is an arm workout!
Chickpea held their shape the best. The other two lost a lot of their definition in the oven. White kidney held a little better than great northern, but the difference between the two was negligible.
I felt like the chickpea meringue melted in the mouth better than the others, but the difference was subtle.
This is a biggie. I barely noticed any bean flavor with chickpea meringue. Great northern meringue tasted just a little off—if I make it again, I’ll up the vanilla to 1 tsp. White kidney meringue had a very strong bean flavor, and nobody really liked it. If you try, add a large amount of flavoring (2 tsp vanilla at least, or cocoa powder, or even both!)
The chocolate chips masked most bean flavor in all of them.
Chickpeas were the clear winner, both in ease of making them and in taste, but with some alterations other beans work as well.
Experimentation with vegan meringue, or aquafaba meringue, is far from over! I wish you all the best of luck in your culinary adventures!
Be sure to join the discussion about vegan meringue on KFA's Food & Cooking support forum. You will find tips on using other ingredients, how to color the meringue, making lemon meringue pie, high altitude adjustments and more. Come share your creations with us!
Eileen Rhoadarmer has battled a lifelong allergy to tree nuts. Both of her sons now have food allergies, both to peanuts and one to egg. Together with her husband, she created Allergy Superheroes, a new line of children’s allergy awareness products that will launch during Allergy Awareness Month. She shares recipes and insights from the perspective of both food allergy parent and patient at 2nd Generation Allergy Mom. Her KFA username is 2ndGenAllergyMom.