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This is about...
AQUAFABA Meringues---WHAT!
Aquafaba Meringues
aqua faba cookies
        OK... PREPARE TO BE AMAZED! G Bakes is one of a myriad of food blogs I read, and this mind boggling recipe popped up there recently. The minute I read it, I knew I had to run into the kitchen and try it. It sounded IMPOSSIBLE.
       But, first a question. Do you like hummus? I certainly do. Since I border on being more vegetarian than anything else, cans of chickpeas, aka garbanzo beans, are a staple in my house. And I routinely drain and rinse the beans, and 86 the liquid in the process. Well it turns out that that liquid has a name and a use. It's called AQUAFABA and can be used as a vegan substitute for egg whites. Who knew? That means you can make egg-less meringues, pavlovas, marshmallows, and macarons, just to name a few.
       Of course, just because there's a recipe, doesn't mean it's going to taste any good. GARBANZO BEAN FLOUR is regularly used as a wheat substitute in gluten-free baked goods, and in my humble opinion, it's TASTES AWFUL. No matter what you do to it, that beany taste is impossible to mask, and believe you me, I've tried. So, I would think that chick pea juice cookies would encounter that very same problem. But I'm game.
       I got one of my cans of organic, salt-free chickpeas from the pantry, drained and rinsed the beans, and this time I kept the liquid. I dumped the juice in a mixer fitted with the whisk and then rev'd it up to high. I added the vanilla, salt and sugar, and lo and behold this juice MAGICALLY looked like FLUFFY, PURE "EGG WHITES" whipped to stiff peaks! But I thought this has to taste like chickpeas. I dipped my finger in the bowl, and well, they did taste a smidgeon beany. Maybe baking them will change the flavor?
       How did the baked ones turn out? Well, THEY LOOKED BEAUTIFUL, very close to the real thing. They also baked up light as a feather, very fragile and crisp, just like the classic meringue. But flavor wise, although they are not beany tasting at all, THEY DO TASTE VERY REMINISCENT OF FROSTED FLAKES AND MILK ( Momofuku, pay attention!) I've always liked frosted flakes, so that's alright by me. For a vegan, and we've got more than our fair share up here in Woodstock, these would be revelatory! Next time, I'm going to dress them up by trying a few drops of peppermint extract and red food coloring.

LESSONS Learned:
1. Use salt-free chickpeas. That way you can control the amount of salt. Try to find organic too if you can.
2. If you don't have a piping bag with a large round tip, don't worry. You can use a large ziploc freezer bag instead. Just fill the bag with the meringue , zip it shut and snip an 1/2 inch off of one corner.
3. Keep the piped size smaller than larger, a quarter size worked the best. Use a real quarter as a guide to get the size right.
4. When you touch them in the oven they will still feel a little soft. But the minute you take them out to cool, they will immediately crisp up. Let them cool on the pan for 5 minutes, and they'll release easily.
5. Like any regular meringue, any humidity will make them sticky, so keep them stored in an airtight container.

(slightly adapted from G Bakes)

3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup aquafaba/chickpea juice from one 15 ounce can of chickpeas
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Make the meringues:
       Preheat oven to 250ºF. Line 3 half sheet pans with parchment paper. Fit a large pastry bag with a large, plain tip. Set aside.
       In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the aquafaba until soft peaks form. Add vanilla and salt and whisk to combine. Slowly add the sugar and continue whisking until you achieve very stiff peaks.
       Transfer the meringue to the prepared pastry bag and pipe quarter-sized dollops onto the parchment lined sheet pans, leaving about 1/2 inch between meringues. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the meringues are firm and baked through. They will crisp up, once they are removed from the oven. Allow to cool completely, and store in an air-tight container.

Makes about 120 cookies. YUM!
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