Aqua Faba-ulous!

Using new ingredients excites me. I loved making the vegan chocolate cake from last weeks GBBO. Managing to produce a delicious cake without eggs or butter felt like a real achievement. The technical challenge from Vegan week intrigued me too, so I decided to give it a go.

Some genius, I know not who, discovered that the water from cooked, canned chickpeas (aqua faba) acted in the same way as egg whites. They can be whipped up to make meringues and macarons so that vegans or people who are allergic to eggs can still enjoy these treats. The bakers in the tent were tasked with making a pavlova, so I made one too, with a variation on the usual fruit topping.

I found this recipe on the Chelsea sugar website. You need the water from a 400g can of chickpeas (they must be in water, not brine) and it needs to be chilled for a couple of hours. The liquor must be very cold when you start so that it whips up easily. Don’t make the mistake of smelling it, pretty funky, but you honestly can’t taste it in the finished meringue! Line a baking sheet with parchment and pre heat the oven to 150 degrees. Transfer the cold chickpea water to a stand mixer and whisk until it forms soft peaks. This may take up to eight minutes so be patient, it will work. Then slowly add 300g of caster sugar, a tablespoon at a time, whisking continuously until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is thick and glossy. Fold in one tablespoon of cornflour (this will make the meringue chewy in the centre). Now draw a 10 inch circle onto the parchment paper. Pile the meringue mixture into the centre of the circle and spread it out, making a well in the centre and building up the sides. Place into the oven and immediately turn the heat down to 100 degrees. Bake for an hour and thirty minutes, then turn off the oven and leave to dry for four hours or overnight. I used some coconut milk yoghurt mixed with a little icing sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla bean paste to fill the pavlova and then scattered chopped pistachio nuts over the top.

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I had no tasters around today so I had a small helping at the risk of going into a diabetic coma and it was exactly like a normal meringue, sweet and crispy. Who’d have known?

Thanks for reading. xx

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