Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

July 4th Meringue Cookies

To celebrate Independence Day, here’s a simpler and “healthier” cookie that will still light up the kiddos’ eyes come dessert time on Tuesday. (all photos from Deborah Brooks)

One knows July 4th is around the corner when the plastic cartons of blue iced sprinkle cookies hit the aisles at the supermarket. You know the cookies. They change colors with the holidays but remain the same cloyingly sweet, doughy discs that require reading glasses to get through the long list of ingredients.

To celebrate Independence Day I decided to offer a simpler and “healthier” cookie that will still light up the kiddos’ eyes come dessert time on Tuesday. These craggy boulders are sweet and crisp and light as air. Puffy clouds of patriotic symbolism (thanks to the red and blue sprinkles) made of aqua faba meringue.

Say what? Aqua faba meringue? Never heard of it. Sounds odd. And it is when you’re used to egg whites being the sole basis of meringue. Aqua faba is the liquid of cooked beans – in this case chickpeas – that whips up as shiny and white and light and fluffy as egg whites. And, no, the meringue doesn’t taste like beans. It’s one of the many wonders of kitchen science you discover when learning to replace animal-based ingredients with plant-based ones. Trust me, it’s a pleasure not to have to crack eggs gingerly, separating the whites from the yolks while making sure not to have a drop of yolk in the bowl. Simply open the can of chickpeas, drain the liquid into a small container, cover, chill it for an hour and you’re good to go.

The only other ingredients in these cookies are sugar, vanilla, and cream of tartar for stability. Oh, and those colored sprinkles for a festive look. If you want a more grown up version, skip the sprinkles and replace with shaved bittersweet chocolate bits that you slowly incorporate into the meringue by hand after it’s fully whipped. Divine!

Here are some helpful tips as even aqua faba meringue is temperamental:

  • Use chickpea liquid as opposed to other beans. It’s the mildest and closest to egg whites in color and taste.
  • Chill the aqua faba. Like egg white meringue, cold aqua faba whips up better.
  • Chill the mixing bowl and wire whisk in the fridge, making sure that they are clean and dry. Again, this will help the aqua faba whip up.
  • Don’t skip the cream of tartar. It stabilizes the meringue so it doesn’t collapse.
  • Organic sugar has large crystals. Break down the sugar crystals in your blender. This helps the meringue not collapse when added to the whipped meringue. Add the sugar slowly in tablespoonfuls.
  • While you can pipe the meringue with an icing bag, I simply drop big spoonfuls onto the cookie sheets. Easier.
  • I use disposable parchment paper to line the pans. Silpat can have residual grease from baking traditional cookies, which is a no-no for meringue.
  • Don’t skip letting the meringues cookies cool in the oven for a least an hour to dry out.

Have a safe July 4th. And please don’t light fireworks or firecrackers at home that scare our pets and local wildlife. The public displays are awful enough. Thank you!

Ingredients for the aqua faba meringue

July 4th Meringue Cookies

Chill the mixing bowl and wire whisk along with the aqua faba in the fridge at least an hour before starting the cookies.

About 3/4 cup aqua faba from a 15 oz can of chickpeas (chilled at least one hour)
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
3/4-cup organic sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Red and blue sprinkles

This recipe makes two-plus trays of meringues. Ideally the cookies should be baked on the middle rack. If you have double ovens, preheat both ovens with the racks in the middle. Otherwise you can cut the recipe down to bake one tray.

Preheat the oven to 210 degrees. Line pans with parchment paper. Set aside.

Pour the chilled aqua faba and cream of tartar into mixing bowl of a stand mixer with the wire whisk attachment.

Whip the aqua faba on high (8 on a Kitchenaid mixer) until soft peaks form. About 10 minutes.

Add the sugar one Tablespoon at a time, and continue to mix until stiff shiny peaks form, about another 5 minutes.

Add the vanilla and incorporate.

Remove bowl from mixer and remove whisk attachment dropping any residual meringue into the bowl.

Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of meringue onto the parchment paper with a bit of space between. They don’t spread much, so fit as many as you can.

Arrange sprinkles on top. Put the sheet pans in the oven and bake for 60-90 minutes. I bake on the longer side as I find that they taste like roasted marshmallows if they get a tiny bit of color on the bottom, though most recipes warn against letting meringues take on color. You’ll have to try for yourself.

Without opening the oven door, turn off the oven and let the meringues dry out at least an hour. Longer if possible.

Remove from the oven and plate.

If not serving right away, store the cookies in a covered container with sheets of parchment paper between the layers. Store in a cool place away from any sunlight.

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Deborah Brooks
Deborah Brooks
Deborah is currently a documentary film producer. She is also a former certified personal trainer and fitness nutrition coach. The shutdown of business due to Covid-19 and the implication of an animal wet market connection caused her to rethink her high animal protein food lifestyle. She has spent the last year exploring the world of plant based eating for her own health as well as the health of the planet and all of its sentient beings. Her recipes can be found on Instagram. She would love you to follow along on her journey.

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