“Tucked in a crust, nothing says love from the oven like pie. Whether it’s a twist on the all-American apple pie or a traditional recipe from your home country, give a healthy makeover to your favorite savory or sweet pie recipe.”
Monday, June 22, 2015
I as I like to mention every now and then, I have a long history of flirting with becoming vegan. While I do eat a lot of vegan meals during the week, my penchant for cheese and love for fish are the two things that continue to thwart my best intentions.
Turns out, vegans miss a lot of things they’ve given up to pursue their lifestyle. A wander through grocery store proves this out. Shelves lined with veggie burgers, vegan cheese (?!) and all manner of lunch “meats”, “sausages”, “roasts” and “Ice Cream”. I’ve asked many vegans what foods they miss the most. While there are those who will swear that they don’t miss anything (liars! I say), others will admit to longing for a favorite cheese or a simple tuna sandwich. One of the foods that comes up the most? Eggs.
Which brings me to this months Recipe Redux:
So, about me and pie. Since having to eliminate gluten from my world due to an allergy, I’ve pretty much given up on making pie at home. Mainly because homemade gluten free pie crust has proven to be my arch nemesis. Seriously, if I were a superhero, the most effective weapon to use against any superpowers I might have would be gluten free pie crust. (Let’s assume, for the sake of this little story, I possess a cool superpower like incredible strength, ability to fly, or making a pair of skinny jeans that actually stay up). Suffice it to say that I have attempted (and failed) at more GF pies crusts than I can count. So when I saw this month’s challenge, I may have rolled my eyes and possibly sworn under my breath. I mean, come on, healthier pie?!
But, what if I could create a meringue shell as the base for pie? And what if that shell were vegan? And what if I could tap into an emerging (kind of insane) healthy food trend?
I see your challenge, Rexipe Redux, and I raise you an insane vegan substitute!
Enter chickpea liquid. Otherwise known as aquafaba. Aquafaba is the liquid or brine from a can of chickpeas (or any canned bean). Its also quite the celebrity in the vegan world, and boasts its own “official” page, a fan page and recipe development group on Facebook, and numerous Pinterest boards that pay homage to this mind bogglingly accessible and right-under-our-nose egg substitute.
When I first started seeing stories about Aquafaba online, my initial reaction was kind of, well, incredulous. I may have said (something like) “I call bull….”. Until I started seeing the videos, photos and recipes. This, my healthy eating friends, might be the most amazing vegan substitute the world has ever seen. Skeptical? Check this out:
Yup, video. From my kitchen, No trickery, no doctoring, no eggs! I mean…what?!
OK, first confession. The original intention of this recipe was for a pavlova. But after a couple of failed attempts (more on those later), I settled on a meringue tart crust instead.
Whoever said “easy as pie…”
So, the basics of making vegan meringue using aquafaba–
Aside from the remarkable taste and texture of the finished product, unlike a traditional egg-based meringue, one of the things I like most about this aquafaba based version is that it can all the high-speed beating you can throw its way. While it certainly isn’t fool proof (as evidenced by my less-than-perfect-Martha Stewart-outcome), it’s fairly forgiving and easy to work with.
I stuck with the vegan theme throughout the recipe, filling the tart shell with a whipped coconut cream filling and topping it with fresh mango. I’d never used coconut cream before (not to be confused with coconut milk) and, after refrigerating the can of cream overnight, I was pleasantly surprised by its custard like consistency. I sweetened it with a bit of raw coconut nectar, which is purported to be a healthier sweetener than more common agave nectar as it’s low on the glycemic index. It’s minimally processed, which helps it maintain many of its nutrients and active enzymes, and is also a bit sweeter tasting on the palate than table sugar, so you’ll use less of it.
In spite of a few missteps (and a fridge full of chickpea salad as a result), I’d say my latest vegan adventure was a success. I’m not so sure it’s gotten me any closer to taking the leap to saying farewell to the last vestiges of my non-vegan ways, but I’ll definitely be exploring the wonders of aquafaba further.
Now, if only someone would discover a miraculous vegan replacement for French feta cheese…..
servings: 6-8 | time: 2 hours plus an additional hour
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. If you have an internal oven fan, turn it on.
For the vegan tart shell:
liquid from 1 can of chickpeas (garbanzos), lowest sodium content you can find
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 tsp. natural vanilla powder (or extract)
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup confectioners sugar, sifted
For the coconut custard filling:
1 14-ounce can coconut cream, chilled for at least a couple of hours or overnight (NOT milk or cream of coconut (which is already sweetened))
1/3 cup raw coconut nectar
1-2 tsp. spiced rum (to taste; optional)
For the mango topping:
2 large ripe mangos
1/4 cup mango fruit spread (or orange marmalade)
2 TBSP. water
Place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet and set aside. Add more parchment to a second sheet if making meringue kisses to garnish
Prepare the meringue tart crust:
1. Drain a 15 ounce can chickpeas, keeping the beans for another recipe
2. Add the bean liquid to the bowl of a high speed stand mixer (you could use a hand mixer, though it will take longer and may wear on the motor of your mixer)
3. Beat on highest setting until stiff peaks begin to form (about 5 minutes)
4. Add the cream of tartar and beat on highest setting until stiff peaks reform
5. Add the lemon juice and continue beating on highest setting, again until stiff peaks return
6. Add vanilla powder or extract and continue beating to stiff peaks
7. Add 1/3 of the sugar, beat on highest setting until stiff peaks. Add the second third, beat to stiff peaks, then the remaining third and beat to stiff peaks. The total beating time should be around 15 minutes
8. Scrape the meringue into the center of the prepared baking sheet (if you’re planning on making the meringue kisses for garnish, set aside about 1 cup of the meringue). Using the back of a large spoon, spread to about 6-9 inches in diameter, making sure to have just a slight indentation at the center to hold the custard filling
9. If you’re making the meringue kisses, use a pastry bag fitted with the star tip and pipe 1″ circles onto the second baking sheet.
10. Place the meringues in the preheated oven and bake at 200 degrees for 2 hours. Turn heat off and leave meringues in the oven for another hour. DO NOT open the oven door during the entire cooking and cooling time
11. Remove from oven and allow to cool 10 minutes before gently removing the parchment paper. Allow to cool completely
Prepare the mango:
1. Cut the mangos as close to the pit as possible and slice
2. Place the mango fruit spread or orange marmalade in a saucepan. Add the water and heat over low heat until melted
Make the custard:
1. Place the coconut cream, raw coconut sugar, and rum (if using) into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, beat on high speed until the mixture is the consistency of a thick custard
Assemble the tart (do this just before serving!):
1. Place the meringue shell on a large flat platter
2. Spread the coconut custard over the shell
3. Arrange the cut mango slices however your artistic talents and inspiration dictate
4. Brush the mango slices with the melted fruit spread
5. Garnish with meringue kisses (if using)
Use a serrated knife to carefully cut the tart into wedges, aiming each cut between the mango slices. Use a pie server to place each wedge onto plates.