Egg-free, vegan macarons? Is this even possible? This must be some kind of dessert voodoo! Although baking is magic, this takes it to a whole other level. When I recently saw an article about chickpea meringue it stopped me in my tracks. That gross gloopy stinky water from a tin of chickpeas that I pour down the drain couldn’t possibly make a meringue that’s billowy, pristine and light as a feather – surely?
But, just when I think I know all there is to know about baking BAM, chickpea water surprises me. This is a revelation (well, to me anyway – it has been around for ages but there was an internet conspiracy hiding it from me) and I am now obsessed with finding gajillions of ways to incorporate this sweet sorcery.
Until now, one of the most difficult things about vegan baking has been getting sponge cakes that are float-off-your-fork light; Angel food cake, for example, is impossible to make without eggs (not counting egg substitutes). But now… that’s all possible! “It’s a whooole neeewww wooooorld!” Is it a bit odd that I’m getting THIS excited about chickpea water? Yes. Do I care? No.
You should know me well enough by now to know that I’ll use any excuse to make macarons, so when I whipped up that first batch of pea meringue, my first thought was – I wonder if this would make amazing macarons. YES! The answer is a thousand times yes. It makes brilliant macarons. In fact, I think chick-water is far more reliable. It doesn’t have different water contents and freshness like eggs but that’s all a bit sciencey and I’m starting to drift off to sleep… Anyway, all you need to know is you HAVE to try this to believe it.
If your’e still going to therapy for your macaron-a-phobia (totally a real thing), then at least make egg-free meringues, people. Whip 180g chickpea water to soft peaks then beat in 1 cup (250ml) castor sugar and a drop of vanilla. Dry out in a 120C oven.
FYI 1 egg = 3 tbsp chickpea water
Egg white’s are out. Chickpea water is IN!
Now I just need to figure out what the heck to do with 5 tins-worth of chickpeas… Hummus, anyone?
Egg-free Chocolate Chestnut Macarons
180g water from a can of chickpeas
125g ground almonds
65g icing sugar
100g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
100ml cream (for a vegan version, use diary-free cream)
150g good-quality dark chocolate, finely chopped
100g sweetened chestnut puree
Place the drained chickpea water in a saucepan and simmer gently until the liquid is reduced to 60g. This will make a nice strong meringue. Allow to cool. Pulse the ground almonds and icing sugar in a food processor until fine and then sift well – discard any leftover large pieces of almonds. Place in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on high speed for about 15 minutes or until light, airy and soft peaks form. It will look exactly like meringue. Gradually add the castor sugar until a stiff glossy meringue forms, then whisk in the vanilla. Sift in the almond and icing sugar mixture in 3 batches, using gentle folding movements to incorporate it into the meringue. Keep folding until the mixture reaches a lava consistency – it should hold it’s shape but ooze off the spatula when you lift it up. Place the mixture into a piping bag and pipe small rounds onto a silicone baking tray. Lift the tray up to chest height and then drop it onto the counter a few times to spread the macarons. Now allow to dry at room temperature for about 2 hours or until they form a skin – you should be able to touch them without your finger sticking. While they rest, place an oven rack in the lower 3rd of your oven and preheat to 150C. Bake the cookies for 16-20 minutes. (I always make a small tray with one or two on so I can do a test batch first). Allow to cool.
For the ganache, bring the cream to the boil and pour it over the chopped chocolate. Allow to stand for 5 minutes then stir until melted. Allow to set until spreadable. Place the ganache in a piping bag. To assemble, pipe a circle of ganache onto one macaron shell then fill the middle with the sweetened chestnut filling before topping with another shell. Continue with all the shells. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for a few hours then bring back to room temperature before serving.
TIP Macarons freeze really well so keep them on hand and when someone pops over for tea or you need a fix, defrost them in the fridge, then allow to stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before devouring them!