Sometimes you don't realize how amazing something is until you try it. Whenever I opened a can of beans or chickpeas, I would always rinse and drain them into a colander. It wasn't until I came across reading about vegan macarons that I discovered that the liquid I had been pouring down the drain all these years was actually magic.
What's that? The viscous liquid from canned chickpeas is named "aquafaba," literally translated as "water from beans" and it is this liquid that has properties similar to egg whites. A French chef discovered he could make foams with the aquafaba liquid from canned beans, and around the same time, an American found a way to create an egg-free meringue by using just the chickpea liquid and sugar.
At first, I was skeptical. How does a brown murky liquid turn into white shiny meringue with stiff peaks? But I gave it a shot with low expectations and was mesmerized at the transformation.
1) You need to whip them in a stand mixer. I have read that hand mixing or even the hand held mixers can't do the job properly.
2) You need to add the sugar near the beginning, or else the aquafaba won't foam up.
3) Be patient. It will take anywhere from 10-15 minutes for the process from brown liquid to white peaks to occur.
A little side story: after I prepared my aquafaba, I set it aside on the kitchen counter to cool. Unbeknownst to me, my 4 year old climbed up onto the chair, reached for the aquafaba, took a swig and quickly spat it out, exclaiming, "EWWWWW! That's not apple juice!" Nonetheless, I had to throw out that first batch of aquafaba, and now we know it doesn't taste like apple juice.
It's a great alternative for vegans or people who are allergic to eggs who want to create treats made with egg whites, such as macarons, meringues, etc.
Speaking of macarons, I like macarons but often I find them too sweet, so with this recipe, I rationalized using the aquafaba from salted canned chickpeas would lessen the sweetness. It turned out just right. These macarons are definitely not too sugary, and have a light balanced flavour (you definitely won't taste any salt from the aquafaba). The cream cheese is slightly tangy and provides a contrast to the blueberries. In one delicate bite, you'll think you're eating a slice of blueberry cheesecake.
Whether you're a devout vegan, an occasional healthy eater, or just want to try something new and enjoy desserts that aren't too sweet, give my aquafaba macarons a try -- you won't be able to taste the difference between a traditional egg white macaron or one of these delightful gems.
Vegan Blueberry Cheesecake Macarons
Yield: Approximately 28 shells (1.5")
The night before:
*To prepare the aquafaba, drain the liquid from a can of chickpeas into a small saucepan and reduce to about ⅓ liquid over low heat. The viscosity should be similar to that of egg whites. Pour into a jar and refrigerate overnight.
Note: viscosity and amount of liquid will vary with each can of chickpeas.
The day of:
Sift the almond flour and icing sugar together and set aside.
Prepare a half sheet sized (13" by 18") baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper. Trim any excess paper as you want the bottom to lie flat. Alternatively, you can use a silicone (silpat) mat.
Prepare a large piping bag fitted with a large circular piping tip and place it into a tall drinking glass. (You can use a small binder clip to secure the bag near the coupler so that when you place the mixture into the bag, it won't ooze out the tip).
Take out the refrigerated aquafaba and measure out 55g into a heavy duty mixing bowl. Clamp into the stand mixer and attach a whisk.
Start whisking at 4 or 5 speed for about a minute and add ⅛ teaspoon cream of tartar. Gradually add the granulated sugar and keep whisking. The aquafaba should turn from a brown colour and start to foam and froth up.
Turn up the speed to 6-7 and keep whisking until soft peaks form. Increase mixer speed to 8 or 9. It will take about 12-15 minutes until the aquafaba turns completely white and stiff peaks form. (See photos below for a visual of what it should look like).
At this point, add in any food colouring and mix a few strokes until colour is dispersed.
Remove the bowl and sift in the almond flour and icing sugar over top of the meringue "aquafaba." Continue folding and deflating the meringue by pressing the mixture along the side of the bowl.
Check to see the consistency of the mixture -- you want it to be similar to slow moving lava. It's better to undermix than to overmix.
A way to test is to take a small spoon of the mixture and drop it onto the baking sheet. If it settles into itself, then it is ready for piping. If not, then give it a couple more mixes. Otherwise, if it oozes like runny pancake batter, then you've taken it too far. Unfortunately, you can't do much about this -- just note for next time to do fewer strokes. Nonetheless, your macarons will still be delicious.
Fill the piping bag with the batter and pipe 1.5" circles onto the parchment paper. Repeat until all the batter has been piped.
Drop the baking sheet from a height of about 2 feet onto the counter to release any trapped air bubbles. Do this 3 times. Use a toothpick to pop any remaining air bubbles on the macarons.
Let the macarons rest at room temperature for at least 20 minutes, or until a skin has formed and does not feel tacky or sticky to the touch. This will vary depending on humidity -- it can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 1 or 2 hours.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 200 F. This temperature may be tweaked according to your oven -- anywhere from 200 F to 215 F. Once oven has been preheated, place the baking sheet into the center of the oven and bake for 45-50 minutes.
After 45 minutes, test to see if the shells are baked through by slightly nudging the macaron. If it moves, put it back in for another 2-3 minutes and test again until it is dry and doesn't budge.
Turn off the oven, and place the macarons back into the oven to continue drying for another 20 minutes. Then open the oven door slightly ajar and let cool for another 15 minutes.
Remove baking sheet from the oven and let completely cool. Gently remove the macaron shells and place into an airtight container until ready for the filling.
Blueberry Cheesecake Filling:
3 T vegan cream cheese, softened at room temperature
1 T vegan butter, room temperature
2 teaspoon icing sugar
3 T blueberry ganache (recipe below)
¼ C blueberries, blended into a puree with a splash water
½ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon lemon juice
¼ teaspoon lemon zest
1 T coconut cream
20g vegan white chocolate
Simmer blueberry puree along with sugar, coconut cream, lemon juice and lemon zest over medium low heat until sauce has thickened, approximately 10-15 minutes. Blueberry sauce should coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat, stir in white chocolate and let cool.
To make cheesecake filling, combine cream cheese and butter with a fork and mix until smooth. Add icing sugar and mix well. Then fold in blueberry ganache 1 T at a time. Adjust accordingly -- the filling should not be too runny. Place into the fridge to firm up a little.
Transfer filling into a piping bag fitted with a piping tip and place into the fridge until ready to use. I store my filled piping bag into an airtight container so it doesn't dry out while sitting in the fridge.
To assemble macarons, pair each shell with another shell of a similar size, one facing up and the other facing down. Pipe the blueberry cheesecake filling in the center of one shell and sandwich with the other. Repeat with the remaining shells.
Store the macarons in an airtight container in the fridge for a minimum of 2 days to mature before consuming. I tried maturing for 3 days and it was even better. Can be frozen as well. Just take the macarons out to rest at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before serving.
Macaron recipe very loosely adapted from The Blenderist.