I've always been sort of fascinated by meringues - how was it discovered that taking that gloopy part of that thing that falls out a hen, whisking it up with sugar and baking it makes one of the most delicious sweet treats around?
So when I read that you could even make them from the liquid in tinned chickpeas (aquafaba to give it its proper, fancy name) I was intrigued.
I'm no vegan (and though I think there is something a bit spooky to radically adapt things to make them vegan - fake bacon, chicken-flavoured plants, vegetables squeezed into sausage shapes...why bother?) but the idea had novelty value and appealed to my sense of thriftiness.
Having made a chickpea stew earlier in the week, I kept the liquid from the tin in a jug in the fridge, ready for its transformation.
The cloudy, viscose liquid frothed up nicely, and with the addition of icing sugar and little espresso powder, became silky smooth and pearlescent (I didn't have vanilla extract in and, not wanting to risk any undertones of chickpea, channelled Nigella's coffee toffee meringues from Kitchen and went for that vibe instead).
I didn't have a piping bag either (but prefer anyway a more rustic, humped mound) so just scooped the mixture delicately onto the paper-lined baking sheet. When they eventually came out of the oven, their sugary-sweet coffee smell wafted up like a freshly-made latte. They are quite delicate so be careful when you move them off the baking tray - unless you're going to smash them up with cream (or coconut yogurt if you are vegan) and berries anyway.
The meringues were crisp and delicate, but with that essential slight marshmallowy inside: perfect served with some softly whipped cream or yogurt, berries, or the toffee sauce from Nigella's recipe.
I think I'll just make meringues like this from now on. Who'd a thunk..?
Water drained from 1 x 400g can of chickpeas
½ tsp cream of tartar
125g icing sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract or 2 tsps espresso powder (optional)
Preheat the oven to 110ºC and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
Put the chickpea water in a large bowl and, using an electric mixer, whisk for around 5 minutes until it's doubled in size and white and foamy.
Add the cream of tartar and whisk again for another minute.
Gradually add the sugar (I sifted it in with the espresso powder) whisking until the mixture forms stiff, glossy peaks (this can take a while).
Stir in the vanilla extract if using.
Dollop the mix into humped mounds (I got nine quite large meringues) on to the baking sheet and bake for 2 hours, or a little longer if the meringues are quite big (don't open the oven!)
Turn the oven off and leave the meringues in there to cool for at least another hour.