I recently experimented with Aquafaba or bean water which is used as an egg white replacement in vegan and vegetarian food. Three tablespoons of Aquafaba is equal to one whole egg. You can either make Aquafaba by cooking chickpeas in water or use the liquid from tinned chickpeas which is much easier. My attempt did not turn out the way I intended it to, but I have compiled a post to share what I learned from my experience of trying to make pavlova with Aquafaba.
I did not stick to one recipe, instead I read a number of them and they all seemed to say the same thing. Main ingredients for pavlova/meringue are the following: Aquafaba, an acid (either lemon juice, vinegar or cream of tarter), corn flour and sugar (granulated, castor or icing).
What I used
I used the liquid from one tin of chickpeas. It was cold from the fridge. I did not have cream of tarter which seemed like the acid of choice, so I used 1 tsp of lemon juice. I decided on castor sugar because I had more of that than granulated sugar and I didn’t have any icing sugar.
What I did wrong
I added the lemon juice at the beginning as most of the recipes I read did not mention a specific time to add it in. They all said to add the sugar 2 Tb at a time after the Aquafaba became foamy, which is similar to working with egg whites. I used 1 and 1/4 cup of castor sugar. After starting this process I read a vegan blog which stated that you should whip the Aquafaba until fluffy and white and then start adding the sugar. I think this would have made a difference and would have probably helped with the next obstacle I encountered.
I do not have a hand held whisk or machine, only a blender with a whisk attachment. It has a fine whisk attachment which was not strong enough to blend the Aquafaba. I had to hold the power button down the entire time as here are no speed settings just power and turbo. After about 10 minutes of beating the blender attachment started to get really hot and as the mixture got thicker it was more difficult to beat. I would definitely suggest that you use a double blade handheld whisk or a machine to beat the Aquafaba. You need to beat the mixture for a really long time approx. 15 minutes at high speed after each addition of sugar so that the sugar is completely dissolved. The mixture needs to get to stiff peak, and should be so stiff that you can turn the bowl upside down and it will not fall out! The same as you would do for egg whites.
I was only able to get my mixture to soft peak which meant that when I put it on my tray it didn’t hold its shape and became as flat as a pancake. At this stage the mixture tasted really nice! Like marshmallow fluff and would make a great topping or icing for a cake. It is also worth noting that the mixture has a strong bean odour but does not have a bean taste.
Baking time & temperature
Most recipes mentioned the temperature should be 100ºC for 1 to 2 hours and then to switch the oven off and let the meringues cool down inside the oven. I put them in the oven for 1.5 hours as I was making small meringues and did not think it would have needed longer. Boy was I wrong, even after leaving them in the oven for that time as well as almost the whole day in the oven to cool down they only cooked around the edges. Maybe they should have been even smaller or maybe I should have done them at a higher temperature or for the full 2 hours. I guess I should also mention that I did something you are not supposed to do and opened the oven to put another tray in after the other tray had already been in there for a while.
For the next time
I think all the mistakes I made added up to make this feel like it was a total flop – but it wasn’t really. I know that I can use Aquafaba as an egg replacement, I also know that it will whip up to all the stages exactly like a normal egg and that I can make tasty marshmallowy fluff with it. I found dozens of blogs dedicated to vegan baking which is awesome and I also joined a facebook group called Aquafaba Vegan Meringue – Hits and Misses! which I am learning a lot from and which gives me hope that I will get it right the next time!
Also check out these blogs below that I found particularly useful: