It's no secret that I've got a major sweet tooth.
I dream about chocolate, I thirst for milkshakes and I eat cake with my bare hands. My knees go weak when I smell vanilla extract and my heart beats faster when I hear the oven timer go off.
My parents have this story they tell me, about the time I ate my first twinkie. I was really young, and a babysitter gave me one to try. I was minding my own business, savoring the sweet cream filled cake, when my babysitter asked me if I'd like another one. I was barely even making progress on the first twinkie, but apparently the thought of a second threw me into a tizzy. I promptly shoved the rest of the first twinkie into my tiny mouth and reached my hand out for a second one.
That's where my sugar addiction started.
Another time, when I was pretty small, maybe like 7 or 8? I went to the grocery store with my father and my little sister. While my sister and I were waiting for our dad to finish checking out, we went to go play with the motorized shopping carts. They kept them right by the door, and my sister and I always thought they were so fun. We were climbing around, trying to see if a key had been left in the ignition when I locked eyes with a candy bar sitting on one of the benches nearby.
You're familiar with the concept of love at first sight right? That's how I felt about that candy bar. It wasn't mine, I had no idea where it came from, but it was unguarded and free for the taking. So I leapt off the shopping cart and timidly crawled my way over to the candy bar. I could see that it was already unwrapped, and that a few pieces had been taken out of the package already, but that didn't stop me. I reached my little arm over and snapped off a piece of chocolate, quickly stuffing it into my mouth before anyone could see what I was doing. Then I wrapped the bar back up and sat next to it with my hands folded while I let the warm chocolate melt in my mouth.
I knew it wasn't mine, and that I shouldn't be eating a candy bar that had already been eaten. It was probably rife with germs, and I knew that a little kid like myself had no business eating an entire chocolate bar, but it didn't stop me. So i repeated my ritual, leaning over and unwrapping the candy bar to break off another small piece. I did that over and over. Slowly enjoying the candy bar, piece by piece until the entire thing was gone. I felt proud, full of adrenaline from doing something I shouldn't have. And also full of sugar, because you know, I just ate an entire candy bar and I was 8 years old.
My dad finished checking out and came to grab us. I felt panic, would he notice the melted chocolate on my fingertips, or smell the sweetness on my breath? Turns out he was more concerned with wrangling two small children and carrying a mountain of groceries to notice my chocolate laced grin. We headed home, and I was joyous that I'd avoided a lecture from my dad about eating strange candy. I was victorious, and what my dad didn't know wouldn't hurt him.
What can I say? I know sugar is bad for me, I've seen the documentaries and heard the horror stories, but dammit if I can't control myself around a pint of ice cream or the occasional loaf of banana bread. Sometimes I don't even like eating sweet desserts, I just like having them around. It makes me feel safe, invincible, prepared. Nothing can hurt me when cupcakes are around. Uh, I'm a drug addict is what I'm saying.
So these lavender meringues? Yeah these are great for that pesky sugar addiction. And they're made with my favorite ingredient at the moment, aquafaba. I told you about this magical egg replacer in my last baking post, rose water sprinkles, but the short of it is that you can whip up the water left behind in your canned beans to make all sorts of light and fluffy desserts. It's incredible really, and I'm having so much fun experimenting with it.
These meringues remind me of the kind my mom used to make when my cousins would come to visit. They were notoriously hard to make, because you have to whip the egg whites just long enough that they are light and airy, but not so much that you knock all the air out and ruin the meringue. That doesn't happen with aquafaba, so you have one less thing to stress out about! You can eat them plain, or sandwich them together with some coconut whipped cream or whatever dairy based alternative you prefer.
These meringues literally melt in your mouth, similar to cotton candy almost. And they're extremely addictive. That lavender flavor? So delicate, it matches the lightness of the meringues perfectly. I naturally added the lavender flavor by adding dried, food grade lavender buds to the aquafaba and reducing the mixture over low heat.
They're cooked at a really low heat, essentially drying the sugar and aquafaba mixture out and leaving behind the piped out sugar structure. To get the cute shape and color I smeared purple food coloring (wilton gel colors are vegan friendly) on the inside of a piping bag fitted with a wide open tip. Make sure to pipe your meringues onto clean parchment paper so they can be removed easily.
And the best part about these lavender flavored meringues? They taste just as a sweet as sneaking bites of that chocolate bar behind my dad's back, but with a little less guilt. Because sometimes we all need a little something sweet in our lives.
yields about 60 small meringues
- 3/4 cup aquafaba (found in one can of chickpeas)
- 1/4 cup food grade lavender buds
- 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
1. In a small saucepan, combine aquafaba and lavender buds and place over low heat. Reduce the mixture down to 1/2 cup of liquid (5-10 minutes), stirring frequently, until thick and your house smells like flowers. Strain the buds from the aquafaba and set the aquafaba aside to cool down to room temperature.
2. After the lavender infused aquafaba cools down, pour it into a mixing bowl. Add in the cream of tartar and vanilla extract and whisk until stiff peaks have formed and the mixture is glossy. This should take about 15 minutes on high speed, and don't be worried about over working the aquafaba. It's not as fragile and temperamental as egg whites.
3. Preheat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare two baking sheets by lining with parchment paper. Prepare a piping bag by smearing your choice of food coloring up the sides and fitting with your choice of piping tip. Set aside.
4. Slowly add in the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, while continuing to whisk. Once fully combined, scoop the fluffy mixture into the bag and slowly pipe out quarter sized meringues onto the prepared baking sheets.
5. Place baking sheets in the oven, and bake for 90 minutes to two hours, until the bottoms of the meringues are no longer sticky. Then turn the oven off and let the meringues sit in the oven until it has completely cooled (mine takes about two more hours).
6. Remove meringues from oven and immediately store in an airtight container. They will keep for a few months, possibly longer
Recipe inspiration from Lazy Cat Kitchen