Monday, August 24, 2015

Vegan meringues with chickpea brine (Aquafaba)

After making Aquafaba Vegan Pavlova I tried to make meringues. I changed the recipe only a little, and used less sugar (still experimenting though!)

1 Can of chickpeas (just the brine - i.e. water, which already has salt)
200 g icing sugar
1 tbsp cornflour
A few drops of lemon juice 
a few drops of vanilla essence
Fresh As plum powder (optional)

Beat the brine first, then when it is nice and peaky add the sugar, one tbsp at the time, and the cornflour. Add the lemon juice and vanilla at the end and beat some more. I added some Fresh As plum powder to half of the mixture and then piped the two types of meringues onto a tray lined with baking paper and baked them at about 75°C fan for about three hours.

I offered them to some adult students at the Italian school to taste them, about half of them tried them but I didn't tell them that they were vegan, they liked them and when I told them what they were they could not believe it! Hearing that the other half of the class wanted to try them too, out of curiosity, and they liked them! Only a couple then said that they were a different from 'normal' meringues (one said less sweet and the other less crunchy). And then they asked for the recipe! 

"Vegan baker Goose Wohlt coined the term aquafaba ("bean liquid") to describe the liquid, which French chef Joël Roessel discovered could be used in recipes much like egg whites."
Source; Wikipedia

 Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Famous Aquafaba meringue makes a good Vegan 'Pavlova'

First a confession: I am not a fan of Pavlovas, not at all. But I love meringues, and ever since I have heard of the aquafaba meringue, or meringue made with the water from a can of chickpeas (very popular in Italian blogs, and not necessarily Vegan blogs, everyone is making it!) I couldn't stop thinking about it! 

"Vegan baker Goose Wohlt coined the term aquafaba ("bean liquid") to describe the liquid, which French chef Joël Roessel discovered could be used in recipes much like egg whites."
Source; Wikipedia

 Well, what a success!! Basically all you need to do is to drain a can of chickpeas, keep the liquid and then beat it. Don't do it by hand though, unless you have strong harms, it takes longer that egg whites. But wow doesn't it peak! And white and fluffy too! I got quite emotional seeing it, like a wonderful chemistry experiment.

After beating for 3-5minutes
After 7-8 minutes
After adding sugar and cornflour
But what to make first?  I was tempted to make an Italian meringue, but didn't want to add hot syrup to my new discovery, in case the magic stopped! No, I decided, I'll do that next time and stick to a easy icing sugar meringue.

There are plenty of recipes online to chose from, and then I saw one for a Vegan Pavlova, Pavlova of course being a loose term overseas, but there you go Kiwis, karma for having far too loosely reinterpreted too many Italian (and other nations) traditional recipes! This particular recipe was my top choice and had nice photos, but looked like a tree-layer meringue to me. Also I changed a couple of ingredients and quantities, and recorded:


1 Can of chickpeas (just the brine - i.e. water, which already has salt)
250 g icing sugar
1 tbsp cornflour
1 tbsp white vinegar
a few drops of vanilla essence

1 can coconut cream
1 tsp golden syrup
a few drops of vanilla essence
Green and gold kiwi fruit and strawberries (out of season, but I saw two punnets for $7 and wanted them for the photo!)

Beat the brine first, then when it is nice and peaky add the sugar, one tbsp at the time, and the cornflour. Add the vinegar and vanilla at the end and beat some more.

Not confident enough to try a single Pavlova I made two disks, plus some little ones to see how they baked. I had the oven on first very hot, and the at about 75°C fan for about three hours, actually more, it seemed to take forever! In the meantime I also whipped some coconut cream (Vegan Pavlova, remember?), I find that the Family Choice coconut cream has the thickest cream of all, in fact so thick that you don't need to refrigerate the can first, and can use the liquid a the bottom of the can to thin it down. I added a tsp of golden syrup (Maple syrup is good too) and a few drops of vanilla, and then set the cream aside in the fridge.

Coconut cream
 I didn't end up assembling the 'Pavlova' until the day after, but the meringue was still good and the cream nice and stiff. I only put fruit in between the two layers, and reserved the cream only for the top. Possibly the disks were too large and they cracked a little, the smaller meringues looked great and made me plan for macaroons.  

The taste

Ok, I don't like Pavlova… but I loved this one!!!! Wowowowow! My daughter loves Pavlova, yet she found this version to be better, and my husband liked it and thought that it was less sweet that regular Pavlova (I can hardly believe it, with 250g of icing sugar??? Really? I was already planning to experiment with less sugar….). Also the texture, no, not a crunchy meringue all way through, but a soft marshmelloy centre, and even if it was in two disks it still tasted more like a Pavlova than a meringue cake.
But there will be more experiments, for sure!

 Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Vanuatu - photo essay

Where we stayed


Lovely little things


The Market in Port Vila 

The Fruit

The Blue Pools


 Around the Island

 Photos by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Kumara Cheesecake

I received a gift of kumara, red, orange, gold, and small (thank you #teamkumara) So far I made soup, roasted them, made some Japanese style sweet potato cakes, and then this cheesecake, which is my own recipes, published a few years ago in a magazine here in New Zealand.

400 g kumara (red or yellow)
1 lemon
150 g sugar
250 g cream cheese
3 eggs
Icing sugar to dust
Fruit to serve

Serves 8–10 for dessert, or even more for coffee if you cut it in little squares 

Wash and boil the kumara until soft (check with a fork), then peel while still warm. Grate all the zest from the lemon and put aside. Extract all the lemon juice, discarding pips. Place the kumara, lemon juice and sugar in the food processor and reduce to a smooth paste. 

Add the cream cheese and process again. When the mixture is smooth add the eggs, one by one, while the food processor is on low. Finally fold in the lemon peels. 

Line a baking tin with baking paper. Pour the mixture in and bake in a pre-heated oven at 180°C for approximately 40 minutes, or until the top is golden and the edges start to detach from the sides of the tin. Let the cheesecake cool down completely before cutting and moving it into a serving plate. Store in the fridge (it taste better cold, and one day after).

 This yummy cheesecake has no pastry or biscuit base, making it an ideal dessert or tea time treat for those avoiding wheat products.

Kumara also goes well with orange, so you can substitute the lemon with the zest and juice of an orange.

 Photos and Recipes by Alessandra Zecchini ©

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Win A trip to Italy and other fantastic prizes with the Festival Italiano Raffle

In occasion of our Festival Italiano '15
the Dante Auckland is proud to announce the annual raffle. There are only 3000 tickets so be quick for your chance to win some fantastic prizes, including a trip to Italy!

First Prize

Win a trip to Rome or Milan (your choice) offered by the Dante Auckland in collaboration with Moa Travel

The prize includes 1 return economy class airfare to either Rome or Milan, plus 3 nights accommodation in your chosen city. 

Raffle draw on 27 September 2015, 3.30pm, at the Festival Italiano, in the presence of a Justice of the Peace. The lucky winner will need to arrange the travel dates, which will be between 1 April and 30 September 2016 depending on availability, with Moa Travel by October 2015. 

Second Prize

An exclusive private 4 hour Italian cooking experience for you and three friends offered by Pasta & Cuore

Spend a magic afternoon at Pasta & Cuore in Mt Eden under the guidance of Stefania Ugolini, a professional pasta maker from Bologna. Prize includes a cooking class and dinner for four, date and time to be arranged with Pasta & Cuore. 

409 Mt Eden Rd, Mt Eden Village

Third Prize

 Aceto Balsamico di Modena Hamper offered by Aceto Downunder.

Aceto Balsamico di Modena is the most luxurious and delicious balsamic vinegar in the world, used by the top chefs and the discerning gourmands. To understand the value placed on this liquid, consider that historically the well-off women of Modena would bring balsamic vinegar as part of their dowry. 

Fourth Prize

A luxurious hamper of Italian products offered by Italian Foodies

Italian Foodies imports into New Zealand a luxurious selections of quality regional products, including artisanal pasta, unique sauces, preserves, oils and traditional sweet treats. Win this price and you will eat like a real Italian foodie!

Italian Foodies

+64 9 213 2270

Fifth Prize

A collection of 8 pieces of estetico quotidiano by iconic design house Seletti, RRP $299.00, offered by Seletti Concept Store

Since 1964, with Enthusiasm, passion, creativity and experimentation, the Seletti family has created a brand recognized all over the world, with a series of collections that blend classic design with modern objects. 

69 BEACH STREET                               
T. +64 3 442 4133


T. +64 9 524 7408

Tickets on sale at the Dante Alighieri Society of Auckland, $5 for one or $20 for a pack of 5. Remember that there are only 3000 tickets for sale, so be quick! 
The winning tickets will be draw on September 27th, 3:30pm, 
at the Festival Italiano


All money raised will go towards the Dante Auckland school for children to run our classes and holiday programmes. The school of the Dante Auckland doesn't receive any funding from Italy or New Zealand and relies entirely on its own finances, donations and the work of our volunteers. This raffle is our yearly fundraiser so thank you all for your support. 

(And don't forget to Like the Festival Italiano on FB to win even more prizes!)


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