For a long time now I have been trying to make vegan meringues. I say trying because aside from an initial failed attempt when I was sugar free I have thought about this more than actually doing anything. So, with Christmas coming up and the vegans in the house trying to think of yummy stuff we can indulge in, vegan meringues have come onto my radar again.
Mum had traditionally made meringues with themselves whenever we went there for Christmas …. well they watched and got to lick the egg beater afterwards which is probably the best way to bake if you ask me! But since those times, himself and I have become vegan and Mum is no longer with us. So, meringues (and pavlova but that is another topic) have been dropped from the menu for quite awhile.
This year though I decided to change that and with a tin of chickpeas in hand I began to look up vegan meringue recipes. Last time, without sugar, my meringues didn’t set hard and definitely still tasted very chickpea flavoured. Not such a delicious dessert it has to be said. It was clearly a memory etched into himself’s head as he actually tried to dissuade me from even trying them again! Not one to be deterred easily though, once my mind was set on something, I stumbled on. Thanks to the internet and The Plant Based School I found a quick and easy recipe to follow …. you must know my style by now don’t you 🙂 Just aquafaba (chickpea juice from the can) and sugar whizzed together and then baked.
I have to say that all was going pretty well and I was feeling pretty smug. That is until I realized our new gas oven won’t stay at a low enough temperature! With a bit of fiddling we managed to get it under the minimum setting and continued with fingers crossed. The results? Well, they weren’t too bad in the end though maybe a little browner than a usual meringue. Himself was impressed (so was I just quietly) and we counted it a success. The only thing was what do you put with them? They were super sweet so needed something less sweet to balance them and obviously the usual cream accompaniment was out. The problem resolved itself fairly quickly though in the fact that himself gobbled them up before I came up with any feasible ideas.
I wasn’t that convinced about having the meringues as a dessert even with himself saying otherwise. Then I was reminded of a dessert my Mum made one time she stayed with us which involved meringue, custard and fruit. Maybe this would be a better option for our Christmas dessert. With rhubarb in season it would be the perfect balance to all that sugar. I hadn’t actually made it by myself, I have to say. When Mum did make it with me I had an almost two year old ‘helping’ and was pregnant with our second so the memory of it was a bit scratchy to say the least. This didn’t stop me sharing the recipe with family though so I thought I should probably give it a go myself.
Another internet search for vegan custard and we were away laughing, so to speak. Basically the recipe is a layering of fruit, cold custard and uncooked meringue which then gets baked in the oven at a low temperature (30mins at 120C). Mum had peaches in hers but as I mentioned I thought it needed a bit of balancing with something less sweet. The local markets obliged nicely with some fresh rhubarb which I stewed up minus sugar (our usual way of having it) and then got the custard brewing so both of them could have time to cool. The final steps were whizzing the meringue up and layer it all before baking. The result wasn’t that great to look at (I’m blaming the temperature of my oven again for the brown top and the fact that vegan custard is white rather than yellow) but the taste was great and a win all round.
Because I don’t really want to be in the kitchen all day on Christmas day I’ve decided that instead of the baked version I am going to do an ‘Eton Mess’ style in a glass. I’ll make the meringues the day before … and hide them! … along with the stewed fruit and custard. Then on the day people can just stack and layer how they like into a glass. Well that is the plan anyway 🙂
As I write this ‘recipe’ I do wonder why I actually write about food on here. I’m certainly not the greatest of chefs that is for sure and I certainly don’t have all the brightest and best gadgets nor all the best solutions. I guess though I’m trying to share that if I can do it and have some fun then so can you! Thank goodness for all those real foodies out there is all I can say!
Hope this finds you experimenting and enjoying the luxury of having enough to eat.