The internet is a mysterious place, yet sometimes between the cat videos and crazy challenges a gem appears. In my case this gem was a Facebook group called “Vegan Meringue” which opened my eyes to the most incredible egg white replacer I’ve ever heard of: aquafaba. Aquafaba comes from the Latin, aqua = water, faba = bean. The secret ingredient to take all your plantbased dishes to the next level is bean water, as in the liquid from a can of beans. For years you’ve been throwing away the most well-kept secret, but now the secret is out!
So what can you make with aquafaba? The list is endless: pancakes, cake, even meringues! But I decided to take on the biggest challenge and make macarons. It’s taken a few attempts, but I finally made some I was proud of, and today I brought them along to the Plant Based Picnic in the Park!
The main ingredients in meringue and macarons are egg whites and sugar. Now the aquafaba replaces the egg whites, but nothing can replace the sugar. Many have tried refined sugar free versions using maple syrup, rice syrup, coconut sugar…all failed. Because of the chemistry, only granulated sugar will work. Butobviously, these are totally worth it!
Be warned, this is a lengthy process, probably the most complicated recipe on my blog, and every step is vital! Don’t leave anything out. Also there can be zero substitutions to the core ingredients, only make changes if you want to change the flavour of the macarons. This recipe was partly inspired by this amazing recipe here, which is definitely worth a try if you’re a big peanut butter fan 😉
These delicious macarons have a sweet orange shell with a creamy bitter chocolate filling that will remind you of buttercream. They are definitely a treat!
Makes: 20 macarons
Liquid from 1 can chickpeas (around 1/2 – 2/3 cup)
1/2 cup or 100g granulated sugar
1 1/4 cup or 125g almond meal (you can grind your own but it will not work anywhere near as well)
1/2 cup or 85g icing sugar
Red and yellow food colouring (optional)
1 tsp orange extract (preferably not oil based as it deflates the mixture)
200g sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1/4 cup cacao powder
5 medjool dates
What to do:
- Place your aquafaba in a pot and bring to the boil. Simmer gently until it is reduced to 1/3 cup
- Place this in the fridge until completely cool
- Use an electric mixer or KitchenAid to whip the aquafaba at high speed until it forms soft white peaks (this is truly magical to watch – just like egg whites!). This will take several minutes, and you can’t really overwhip so if in doubt keep going
- Gradually add the granulated sugar over several minutes until the mixture becomes thick and glossy. It should form stiff peaks that do not spread. If you can turn the bowl upside down without anything moving then you’re there
- Add 1 tsp orange extract and whip until combined and delicious
- Mix the almonds and icing sugar. Ideally process for a minute or so in a food processor and sieve to remove any large pieces.
- Add the almond mixture 1/3 at a time, folding in gently with a spatula until completely incorporated. You will lose some height and fluffiness here, that’s completely fine.
- Now for the “macaronnage” step. Bear with me here. Use the spatula to press the mixture against the side of the bowl whilst moving it from side to side, then fold the mixture over itself back into the middle (this video might help). Do this at least 20 times. When the mixture is ready it will be thinner, glossy, and spread slightly when dropped.
- Add the food colouring if desired, a few drops at a time until you reach a nice orange colour
- Place the mixture in a piping bag with a plain round tip
- On a piece of baking parchment (only baking parchment will do!) on a baking tray, draw 20 small circles around 4cm diameter, then pipe into the mixture of those circles until the mixture reaches 3/4 of the way to the edge.
- Bang the baking tray down twice to remove any air bubbles
- Leave at room temperature for 1-2 hours to allow the film to develop on top
- Place the baking tray in a cold oven, close the door, then turn to 100C and bake for 30 minutes.
- If the bottoms feel sticky, bake for 5-10 minutes longer
- Switch off the oven and, without opening the door, leave the macarons inside for another 20 minutes
- Open the oven door slightly and leave for another 15-20 minutes
- Leave the shells to cool at room temperature, and only once the oven is cold again repeat for a second baking tray, so you have 40 shells in total
- In the meantime, make the filling:
- Steam the sweet potato cubes until really soft, then allow them to cool
- Add the sweet potato to a food processor and process until smooth
- Add the cacao powder and dates and again process until smooth
- Place this in a piping bag with a star tip (if possible) and chill in the fridge until your macaron shells are ready
- On the day you plan to serve them (or possibly the day before), pipe a generous circle of chocolate filling on one shell, fill the circle, then stick a second shell on top. Repeat until all your macarons are done.
- Chill in the fridge until ready to serve!