Pink Vegan Meringue Kisses

Valentine’s day was always a slight joke with me. Back in my teenage years I had a long term boyfriend that lived really far away, and id receive flowers a couple of days after valentines day, they were usually already dying, but oh well, he tried right? So I’ve more been the kind of girl for self-love and began investing in the ‘spoil yo self ‘ mantra instead of waiting on someone else to do it for me, that might play into some of my control issues, but we won’t get into that.

Valentine’s day extends to the beginnings of the 1400’s where many Roman and Catholic traditions include St Valentine. It was a common belief in France – the city of love, and England that February 14 was the beginning of birds’ mating season, which added to the idea that the middle of February should be Valentine’s Day and a day for romance.

All over the world, candy, flowers and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine and love. We created these vegan kisses as a perfect accompaniment to our Valentine’s Cheeseboard, to continue with the snacking theme.

Yotam Ottolenghi, one of my personal favourite chefs, is famous for making giant Ottolenghi meringues, which he mastered during his first job in a professional kitchen. Here he spent a large amount of time getting to know egg whites, sugar and air. It takes a great deal of whisking to know what the perfect consistency of egg whites should look like. And don’t dare overbeat them, you might as well throw them down the drain.

Throughout my baking experience, I have always managed to struggle with the simple things in baking, such as cookies as most of you might have read in a previous post, and egg meringues were no different. They always seem to flop, not harden and be too gooey on the inside. When creating these little love kisses, I was hesitant, to say the least, because if I couldn’t master egg meringues, how would I possibly be able to get meringues made of aqaufaba edible.

The baking Gods or rather Saints in this context must have been shining on me, allowing for only one failed test batch, before developing the perfect meringue, made out of chickpea brine! One of the incredible things I have come to learn on this vegan baking journey is, never underestimate the ability of plants, they’ll surprise you every time.

 

Chickpea brine (aquafaba) is the water left over once you’ve taken out your chickpeas, this water contains starch that’s actually perfect for binding and mimicking egg whites. The amazing thing when whipping the brine is that there is no way to over whip the mixture, if you’re unsure of how long to be beating the liquid for, just keep going until you feel confident, the mixture won’t seize up and become watery.

To paraphrase Ottolenghi – Good things are anything made fresh, with love, a bit of flair, real ingredients and lots of attention to detail. I definitely think he would approve of our now favourite meringue recipe that’s perfect to make ahead for Valentine’s Day

Love is in the air, and will probably be amplified as we get closer to Wednesday (Valentine’s Day for those of you who don’t know yet), and whoever you choose to spend your valentines day with, we hope its incredible and fulfilling.

Recipe

Makes 200 kisses

Ingredients
  • 1 cup Aquafaba (chickpea brine), chilled overnight
  • 1 cup Caster Sugar
  • 1tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Medium Beetroot (Optional), peeled
  • 1tsp White Wine Vinegar (Optional, but recommended)
Instructions
  1. Juice the beetroot if you own a juicer. If you don’t have a juicer grate it coarsely, place it in the middle of a muslin cloth and squeeze all the juice out of it. It should yield about 3 tsp of juice, which is plenty for giving your meringue kisses lovely valentine pink.
  2. Line a baking tray with a sheet of baking paper, making sure your baking tray is grease and oil free, the grease and oils will cause the meringues to collapse in the oven.
  3. In a large, clean bowl, preferably not plastic as plastic usually has an oil/grease residue. We opted for a stainless steel or glass bowl. beat chickpea water with an electric whisk or use a stand mixer until you get stiff peaks, you can now add the vinegar and vanilla extract. The white wine vinegar helps stablise the mixture, while we do recommend you add it, it’s not entirely necessary for these smaller meringues and you can still achieve lovely meringues without it.
  4. To test if your aquafaba is ready, gently turn the bowl upside down. If the mixture does not start sliding down, you can start adding sugar. Otherwise, keep on whipping until the mixture stays in the bowl when inverted, and believe us when we say it will happen. Chickpea water takes longer to reach the stiff peak stage than beating egg whites would, but have a little more patience and keep on going.
  5. Start adding the caster sugar very slowly. Tablespoon by tablespoon, whipping well after each addition, about 2-3min. Continue until all the sugar has been added. By now, the mixture should become beautifully glossy, thick and sticky – no different to an egg-based meringue.
  6. Preheat your oven to 100 degrees Celcius, please make sure you don’t turn up the heat, this will cause the meringues to become unstable and collapse into a gooey mess.
  7. Using a piping bag with a narrow nozzle, add streaks of beetroot juice (1 – 2tbsp should suffice), making sure it coats the insides of the bag but doesn’t gather at the bottom. – this method can be used if you would like streaks of pink. If like us you want a bit of a pink hue, you can add beetroot juice to your aquafaba mixture a little at a time, beating after each addition, depending on the hue you’d like to achieve.
  8. Now, fold the top of the piping bag over your dominant, piping hand and spoon your aqaufaba mixture into the bag, filling it halfway. Hold the bag perpendicular (straight up) to the tray and squeeze small blobs of the mixture onto the tray and quickly pull away after each blob. Allow some space around each blob or else the drops may stick together.
  9. Bake for about 75 minutes, then turn the oven off but leave the tray with meringue kisses inside with the oven door slightly open for another 15 – 20 minutes for the meringues to fully dry out and harden.
  10. These can be stored in an airtight container, if left out they will begin to go stale, and slightly soft.
Notes:
  • This recipe can be adapted to making a pavlova, which is next on our list of experimentations, but if you do try it out the white wine vinegar becomes essential to stabilise the mixture. 
  • You can also add in food colouring instead of using beetroot juice if you would like to achieve various colours, we just tried to keep it all natural.