- Thursday, 16 July 2015

Magical Secret Ingredient Vegan Pavlova

Being a wildly enthusiastic fan of Eton Mess, it seems strange that I have never actually made meringues or pavlova. I have eaten (Eton ha ha) them plenty of times, but never recreated them myself. Until now, the typical British summery pudding has been uncharted territory, and thus it shall remain so, because this is no normal pavlova. I have strayed from the beaten track and am mapping out a new, relatively untravelled route.. Why so many geographical metaphors? Good question. Let's move on.

vegan egg-free aquafaba meringue pavlova with strawberries, cherries, nectarines and mint, Magical Secret Ingredient Pavlova, www.imogenmolly.co.uk

Anyway, this is truly delicious and all comes down to one astonishing ingredient. Which you will probably turn your nose up at straight away, as did my resident recipe tester (shout out to Madre) until we actually tucked in to the completed masterpiece.

I assure you, before you click away or possibly slam your computer shut/hurl your phone or tablet at a wall in utter disgust at the ingredients list: this. is. amazing.

It also totally works with a vegan, gluten-free or lactose/dairy-free diet, as long as you don't slather it with whipped cream like I did.. Yay for versatility! Also, because this recipe is egg-free, you don't have the fiddle of separating whites from yolks and then finding something to use the yolks in and yadda yadda yadda.


vegan egg-free aquafaba meringue pavlova with strawberries, cherries, nectarines and mint, Magical Secret Ingredient Pavlova, www.imogenmolly.co.uk
vegan egg-free aquafaba meringue pavlova with strawberries, cherries, nectarines and mint, Magical Secret Ingredient Pavlova, www.imogenmolly.co.uk

So without further ado, here is the secret ingredient: chickpea water. DON'T LEAVE! Please. Just hear me out. Chickpeas are super versatile too, so you may as well buy a can as you can pretty much add them to any recipe, so what's the harm in just whizzing up the water for a bit to see what happens?

The reason why this works is because, although it has a slight chickpea-ish smell when it first comes out of the can, once you do whip it into a meringuey mixture complete with icing sugar and flavourings, it really just tastes of sugar - just like an eggy meringue. So no complaints please; if I can get it right on my first try then I'm sure you can too, most likely better than I did now that I have made it and can adjust the recipe accordingly.

vegan egg-free aquafaba meringue pavlova with strawberries, cherries, nectarines and mint, Magical Secret Ingredient Pavlova, www.imogenmolly.co.uk

Magical Secret Ingredient Pavlova
Makes one big-ish pavlova or about ten generously-sized individual meringues; also vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free!

Ingredients
water from one 400g can of chickpeas (they call this 'chickpea brine' which frankly sounds vile, so I refuse to do the same)
half teaspoon cream of tartar
150g icing sugar
optional flavouring of choice - almond extract, vanilla extract.. cocoa powder.. chilli powder.. literally anything you want (*cough cough* food colouring - tie dye style meringue looks really really cool)
Optional toppings: whipped cream, seasonal fruit of choice, more icing sugar to sprinkle, ice cream, pouring cream, any decorations that take your fancy!

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 90 degrees fan.
2. Drain the chickpeas through a colander or seive with a bowl underneath to catch the water. Pop your chickpeas into some sort of container to store until you want to use them in your next delicious creation!
3. Whisk the chickpea drainings (sounds appetising I know) for about five minutes or so, until it is no longer clear and is considerably thicker than it was. It will go through a stage of being full of bubbles - you need to continue until the bubbles are gone. A stand mixer would work brilliantly if you have one because you can leave it whirling and go off and do whatever, but I used an electric hand whisk which worked perfectly fine. If you are really ambitious/are Popeye, then feel free to try a manual hand whisk (the kind with a handle that you spin at a million knots) although these are a massive pain and will take forever. Even Mary Berry said they are outdated. (I'm looking at you, Dad.)
4. Add the cream of tartar and mix for another couple of minutes.
5. Whisk in the icing sugar bit by bit until it is all mixed in and the mixture is positively meringuey, then add and mix in whatever flavourings you like.
6. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and either pipe the mixture through a piping bag into individual meringue nests, or blob it on in any old fashion (as I did), roughly in a circle shape and push to the outside to create a sort of hollow in the middle - this is where the fruit will go! Use a spatula to blob it up into peaks, and just make sure it isn't too thin in the middle.
7. Shove it in the oven for two and a half hours, then when the time is up turn off the heat and leave it in there until the oven has completely cooled. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN! This is really important - if you open it before the pavlova is completely ready, it will sink and deflate and crack all over the place. Hold your horses and do like the contestants on The Great British Bake Off, peering endlessly into the oven at your creation.
Aaaand at this point, your pavlova is done! But I strongly recommend you continue:
8. In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, whisk 400ml of double cream just until it forms peaks - you don't want to go any further than this or it will start to churn into butter which, on a pavlova, is a bit gross. (NB: Obviously if you add whipped cream it won't be vegan or dairy-free or anything anymore. Just a heads up, in case that blatantly obvious fact had escaped your notice, which I'm sure it hadn't anyway..)
9. Dollop on the cream and top with some chopped fresh fruit - I went for strawberries, nectarine and cherries, with a garnish of some mint freshly harvested from the garden! Delish.


vegan egg-free aquafaba meringue pavlova with strawberries, cherries, nectarines and mint, Magical Secret Ingredient Pavlova, www.imogenmolly.co.ukvegan egg-free aquafaba meringue pavlova with strawberries, cherries, nectarines and mint, Magical Secret Ingredient Pavlova, www.imogenmolly.co.ukvegan egg-free aquafaba meringue pavlova with strawberries, cherries, nectarines and mint, Magical Secret Ingredient Pavlova, www.imogenmolly.co.uk

Tadaaa. I didn't cook mine for quite as long as I could have, so the bottom of the pavlova is still gooey and almost custardy (in a nice way - I detest custard but this is really good), so if that's what you're going for then maybe turn off the heat 15 ish minutes early.

I know it sounds weird, it really does. But honestly, having been a little sceptical and then making and trying it, it tastes amazing and is so so easy. I've heard that this also works with other canned veg water, but I haven't tried any others so wouldn't be able to say for sure. If you do want to go for something cray cray, just bear in mind that quantities, timings and various other details might need to be adjusted slightly! I'm keen to try a kidney bean one next because their 'brine' (ew) is such a fab colour and I really want to know if it would make a pinkish meringue. Small pleasures, eh?

Please do give it a try and let me know how it goes/what you think if you do!

*All photos in this post are mine. If you wish to use any, please ask my permission and credit me!*


vegan egg-free aquafaba meringue pavlova with strawberries, cherries, nectarines and mint, Magical Secret Ingredient Pavlova, www.imogenmolly.co.uk
vegan egg-free aquafaba meringue pavlova with strawberries, cherries, nectarines and mint, Magical Secret Ingredient Pavlova, www.imogenmolly.co.uk

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