How To Make Vegan Meringue Cookies

How To Make Vegan Meringue Cookies

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Meghan Splawn
May 26, 2017
(Image credit: Christine Han)

Let me preach the meringue cookie gospel for a moment here. Meringues are light and airy, with a just-right sweetness, and they melt in your mouth with their crisp-tender texture. They are made with just three ingredients, one of which is a leftover byproduct of a kitchen staple.

If you were thinking these pretty, tasty things were made from egg whites, you were wrong. These meringues are made from the leftover liquid from a can of chickpeas, whipped and baked up much like their namesake cousins, but made for vegans. It's not quite magic — it's thanks to the starchy science of aquafaba.

Aquafaba Vegan Meringue: Watch the Video

(Image credit: Christine Han)

What is aquafaba?

Aquafaba refers to the liquid from cooking any dried bean or legume. Beans leach proteins and carbohydrates into the water they're cooked in, which transforms that water into a substance rich in those nutrients and ripe for whipping.

While aquafaba can come from canned or stovetop cooked beans, most aquafaba-based recipes call for the liquid from canned chickpeas. Chickpeas have a nice neutral flavor that can be easily enhanced or disguised, but the aquafaba from canned chickpeas also has reliably consistent starch content, making for a more dependable whipped product.

Read more: Aquafaba, the Most Magical Egg Replacement (and How to Use It)

(Image credit: Christine Han)

So, can I use the liquid from chickpeas I cooked?

Yes, but it may take a bit of experimenting with your favorite chickpea cooking method to find the right consistency. Aquafaba-based meringues require a certain starch-to-water content, which varies widely depending on the dried chickpea cooking method. Some aquafaba enthusiasts suggest draining your chickpeas and then reducing the cooking liquid by half to mimic the starchy power of the canned byproduct.

Helpful Hints for Whipping Aquafaba

Unlike egg whites, which require certain temperatures and ultra-clean equipment for whipping, vegan meringues require less precision but more muscle. Here's what you need to know for light and fluffy vegan meringues.

  • Use an electric hand or stand mixer to whip. You need the power of an electric mixer to whip aquafaba, because it is thinner than egg whites and needs more muscle to whip it into shape.
  • Always add cream of tartar. Cream of tartar helps stabilize whipped foams, and this trick is true for egg white and aquafaba meringues.
  • Add the sugar gradually. Adding the sugar in small doses once the aquafaba has some air whipped into it prevents the sugar crystals from breaking down the air bubbles.
  • Bake until dry. Some meringue recipes can be baked just until set with a marshmallow-like center, but vegan meringues should be baked until completely dry, about an hour, to prevent collapse.

Troubleshooting your aquafaba: 5 Reasons Your Aquafaba Won't Whip

Use Unrefined Sugar for Vegan Meringues

Not all granulated sugars are considered vegan. Bone char (an animal byproduct) is often used in the whitening and refining process for granulated sugar. Many vegan bakers prefer unrefined cane sugars like demerara or turbinado. There are sugar companies skipping the bone char refining process, so you can always look for vegan sugar in granulated, brown sugar, or powdered sugar options.

How To Make Vegan Meringue Cookies

Makes 36 (1-inch) meringue cookies

What You Need

Ingredients
1 (15-ounce) can low-sodium garbanzo beans (do not drain)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup granulated, demerara, or turbinado sugar, preferably vegan
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Sprinkles or food coloring, for decorating (optional)

Equipment
Measuring cups and spoons
Fine-mesh strainer
Baking sheets
Parchment paper
Stand mixer with whisk attachment, or electric hand mixer
Piping bag and star piping tip

Instructions

  1. Prepare for baking: Arrange 2 racks to divide the oven into thirds and heat to 200°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Drain the chickpeas: Drain off the liquid from the can of garbanzo beans through a strainer into a measuring cup. Save the chickpeas for another use. You should have about 3/4 cup of the liquid, known as aquafaba.
  3. Whip the aquafaba: Place the aquafaba in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. (Alternatively, use an electric hand mixer and large bowl.) Beat on medium speed to soft peaks, about 3 minutes.
  4. Flavor the meringue: While continuing to beat, gradually add in the sugar and vanilla. Once all the sugar has been added, continue to beat to stiff peaks on medium speed, 5 to 7 minutes more.
  5. Pipe the meringues: If you would like to color the meringues, add food coloring at this point. Transfer the meringue to a piping bag fitted with a star piping tip. Pipe the meringue onto the baking sheet into 1-inch rounds. Alternatively, you can scoop the meringues onto the baking sheets in tablespoon rounds. Decorate with sprinkles if desired.
  6. Bake until dry: Bake until completely dry to the touch, about 1 hour. Larger meringues with require 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
  7. Cool and store: Remove the meringues from the oven and cool completely before using or storing.
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