Sugar Free Aquafaba Meringue

One of the questions I get asked a lot, as an aquafaba expert (should I even be bragging about that?!?) is, can you make a sugar free aquafaba?

The answer is, of course, yes. However, it depends on a few factors.Sugar Free Aquafaba

If you’re using the aquafaba as an egg replacer in say, a cake, you’ll most likely use it straight up (ie unwhipped) or whipped, but without sugar. When I make waffles, for example, I whip the aquafaba, but I don’t add sugar to it, because there’s sugar already in the recipe. Some recipes, I just add it straight to the batter.

The challenge comes when you’re using aquafaba for meringue. Aquafaba is much less stable that egg whites are. The protein structures aren’t as strong, so that’s why sometimes it deflates, or doesn’t even make a meringue at all.

Even more so than when you’re using egg whites, aquafaba needs a little assist. I primarily use cream of tartar, though if extra support is required, I bring in the xanthan gum.

Sugar also helps to stabilize the meringue. I’ve experimented with different types of sugars, and some work better than others. You can see those results here.

So, to answer the question, yes, you can make aquafaba without sugar, but if you’re making a meringue out of it (mousse, pie topping, or making macarons or pavlova), you’ll want to add some sugar to stabilize it.

For those of you trying to kick the evil sugar habit (and good for you, you’re a better person than I), there are loads of sugar substitutes. My own personal favourite is monkfruit, but in my experiments, it did not react well with the aquafaba.

Stevia works, most certainly. But I am not the biggest stevia fan. I’ve tried many times, but I can’t get past the metallic aftertaste. Hey, maybe my taste buds are just super sensitive, but as a recipe developer, that’s not a terrible thing!

The sugar substitute that’s worked best for me is xylitol. Unlike stevia and monkfruit, which are plant-based sugar substitutes, xylitol is a sugar alcohol. It comes from, weirdly enough, the bark of birch trees. It only rates as a 7 on the GI, whereas regular sugar is somewhere around 60.

I like that you don’t have to do any math with it. It works in equal ratio to sugar, so when you’re substituting Xylitol for sugar, you just use exactly the same amount. This is one of the other things I do not like about stevia–I can never seem to figure out what the exact right amount to use is.

So there you go! Sugar free aquafaba meringue is incredibly accessible.

Blueberry Lemon Bars {Vegan}

Vegan Blueberry Lemon Bars

Well, it’s officially summer here in Vancouver, though the weather seems to be a bit confused as to what season it is. However, July 15 is Blueberry Day, so hence today’s recipe.

To add to the long list of why 2020 sucks, our summer has been pretty cold and rainy so far. OH! And! Apparently it’s also a banner year for mosquitoes. So yeah. Good times.

What this situation calls for is baked goods, because, let’s face it, there’s no situation that cannot be improved by the application of cake.Lemon Blueberry Bars

Given that none of us can venture too far this summer, Michael and I are making plans to explore our “backyard,” by which I mean, our province. We recently headed out to Fort Langley last week to explore.

If you’ve never been to Fort Langley, it’s pretty awesome. It has such charm, and some really lovely places to browse. In addition to the historical Fort (which is only half open, sadly), the town itself has some pretty interesting things to see, including Blacksmith Bakery, which I highly recommend.

BC Blueberries

On our way home, we hit up a couple of berry farms, and came home with some locally-grown berry booty; strawberries, raspberries and blueberries.

Pie ensued. Also a lemon tart with garnished with glazed fresh berries.

Lemon Tart

But the blueberries… what to do with them?

Lemon and blueberries make good friends, so I decided to pair the two. This is a really simple recipe that I think turned out quite elegant and lovely.

Blueberry Lemon Bars Vegan

Blueberry Lemon Shortbread Bars {Vegan}

Ingredients for the crust:

  • 1 cup vegan butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
  • zest of one lemon
  • ½ teaspoon salt

ingredients for the filling:

  • 1 ½ cups blueberries
  • ¼ cup water
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon flour or cornstarch

Method

  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, or using a hand-held mixer in a large bowl, cream together the vegan butter and the sugar. Mix well together until they are light and creamy. Add the vanilla and lemon zest and mix to combine. Add in the flour in three batches, mixing in between each until incorporated. Take a little more than half of the mixture and press it into a 8″x8″ greased (or parchment-lined) square pan. Set aside while you make the filling.
  2. In a medium-sized pot, place the water, blueberries, half the lemon juice and sugar. Bring up to a boil and then turn down the heat and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes. Us a potato masher to squish up the blueberries a little. Place the flour or cornstarch in a small mason jar with the remaining lemon juice and shake well to combine. Add the slurry to your blueberry mixture, bring it back up to the boil and allow to cook down for an additional 5 minutes, until thickened.
  3. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Pour the blueberry compote over the shortbread layer in your pan. Then break the remaining shortbread up into chunks with your hands and scatter it over the blueberry mixture. You want there to be peeks of blueberries through the crust. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20-30 minutes, until the top is golden and the blueberries are bubbly. Cool and cut into squares to serve.
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