What Kinds of Sugars Work with Aquafaba Meringue?

A few months back, while I was working on my cookbook, I spent a day playing with different kinds of sugars.

There are lots of folks out there (especially in the vegan community) that are trying to avoid sugar, or at least cut down on it.

An additional note to make is that most people assume that granulated sugar (which is what I primarily use to make Aquafaba meringue) is vegan. I mean, why wouldn’t you?

Different Sugars and Aquafaba

But it turns out that some sugar is processed by filtering it through bone char, which would render it non-vegan for most, given that the sugar has come into contact with an animal product (despite the fact that it contains no animal products). If you live here in BC, our main supplier of sugar is Roger’s, and their sugar is indeed filtered through bone char.

Again, it all just depends on whether or not you are vegan–there are certainly lots of people who may use aquafaba for other reasons.

But let’s go with this–let’s say you are vegan and you’re trying to avoid granulated sugar–which, let’s face it, is the worst kind for you, anyway.

You have lots of options! Basically any sugar that is unrefined, organic or raw, will not be filtered through bone char (here’s a list of vegan sugars). BUT if you’re making aquafaba meringue, will these sugars work?

Sugar is important to the process. When you’re making a meringue, sugar helps to stabilize the aquafaba, and of course, if you’re adding it to desserts, it adds sweetness. I’ve made aquafaba meringue without sugar (just some stabilizer like cream of tartar) and it worked fine for non-sweet recipes, but most of the time, I’m using it in sweeter interpretations, so I do add sugar.

I was curious to see what sugars worked best with aquafaba, so I did a little experiment.

I tried making meringue with aquafaba and 6 different kinds of sugars.

For these, I used the ratio:

  • 3 tbsp aquafaba
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar

I then fired all of that in my KitchenAid stand mixer and let it go for about 6-10 minutes.

Organic: Organic sugar is less processed than white sugar. First off, it comes from organic sugarcane, and secondly, there are no chemical processes done to the sugarcane. So it’s a much purer result.

Coconut sugar: Coconut sugar has a lower GI (about 30-35) than regular sugar, which is why it’s becoming so popular right now. I actually like this one quite a bit.

Turbinado: this is “Sugar in the Raw” or raw sugar. It’s a coarser grain and a darker colour.

Brown Sugar: So, while it might seem less refined than white sugar (and to some degree it is), brown sugar is mostly white sugar with molasses added back in for flavor and colour. So, again, ideally buy the organic version of this to ensure it’s vegan, if that’s your deal.

Xylitol: made from the bark of birch trees (I know, sounds weird, right?) Xylitol is as sweet as sugar, so you can use it cup-for-cup, but it’s natural, and doesn’t have an aftertaste like stevia does. It’s also basically zero on the GI scale, so it’s kind of like sugar free sugar.

Monkfruit: It’s made from a tropical melon, and it’s pretty sweet, though it has a GI of zero. I’ve been using it for about a year. You have to be careful not to use too much. I put some in my coffee the other day and couldn’t drink it. Monkfruit was the only sweetener that did not work at all with the Aquafaba.

Conclusion: they all worked with aquafaba to some degree. Some formed better peaks than others. Surprisingly, Xylitol worked really well. The browner sugars changed the colour of the meringue, so if that’s an issue for you, stick to to organic white sugar.

 

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Coconut Key Lime Pie {Vegan}

Recipe number 2 this week on the theme of coconut-lime!

This is a variation of the lemon meringue pie that I wrote for my cookbook, Aquafabulous! I just made it up, though, so it didn’t actually make it into the cookbook… whoops!

Coconut Key Lime Pie Vegan

This is really, really tasty.

Normally lemon curd is thickened with egg yolks, and then you use the whites (which you have separated out) to whip to make the meringue. This recipe is vegan, so no eggs or butter are used, obviously. Aquafaba is used for the meringue, of course, but the curd still needs to be thickened in some way. Here, I used cornstarch.

The coconut milk also helps to give it a thick, creamy texture and a nice, fatty mouthfeel.

Torch the meringue on this mutha, and you have a show-stopping dessert. Even better, torch it at the table to generate some excitement and oohs and ahhs.

Oh–FYI–even thought I’m calling this “key lime pie,” I just used regular limes. You can use either, based on what is available to you.

Vegan Coconut Key Lime Pie

Coconut Key Lime Pie {Vegan}

Ingredients

  • 1 store-bought vegan pie crust or home-made
  • 1 400 ml can of coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Zest of 2 limes
  • 3/4 cup lime juice (freshly squeezed or bottled if you’re lazy)
  • 1/2 cup vegan butter (or you could try coconut oil)
  • 1/3 cup aquafaba
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Method

  1. Dock your pie crust with a fork and pre-bake it in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes, or until it’s golden. Set aside to cool.
  2. In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, place the coconut milk and the cornstarch. Whisk well to combine. Turn the heat on to about medium, and bring up to the boil, allowing the milk to thicken. Add the sugar, salt, lime zest, lime juice, and vegan butter, and whisk well to combine. Bring up to the boil again, allowing it to bubble and thicken. NOTE: if the colour is too pale, you could add a couple drops of green food colouring. This won’t affect the taste, just the esthetic look of the pie.
  3. Pour the hot curd into the prepared pie crust, and let set in the fridge overnight (or at least for a few hours).
  4. To make the meringue, place the aquafaba, sugar and cream of tartar in the bowl of your stand mixer (alternatively, you can do this with a hand mixer, it just means you have to stand there and whip it for 10 minutes). Whip for 2 minutes on the lowest setting to combine, then turn up to medium for 2 minutes, and finally to high for about another 4-6 minutes, until the meringue is light and fluffy, and holds a peak.
  5. Spread the meringue on top of the pie, and torch to brown. Serve immediately.
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