Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Egg-free Meringues

UPDATE: Amazing Discovery! (for me at least)
You don't need vegetable gum to whip stiff peaks. In fact the mixture whips up even more beautifully without xanthan or guar gum. I whipped together 1-1/2 tsp soya protein with 3 tbsp water and 3/4 tsp vinegar to soft peaks and added 5 tbsp sugar in three batches and whipped for a couple of minutes at high speed. The result? A glossy white mixture with no discernible loss in volume, that stood in long, pointy peaks when the whisk was lifted. I could not believe it! It resembled the meringue mixtures I have seen on TV. As to whether it makes good meringues, only time will tell as mine are in the oven right now. But I couldn't wait to share this news with everyone who may have been as ignorant about this property of soya as I was myself. Could this lead to those barely trodden regions of vegan gastronomy - souffle, choux pastry, even angel food cake... P.S. I have taken pictures (not very good ones) and shall post them soon.
UPDATE 2: Marshmallows can be made using the whipped mixture. I haven't got a strict recipe but if you're interested I'd suggest playing around with this recipe. Use about 3 tbsp water and 1-1/2 tsp soya protein for each egg white and add some xanthan gum along with the sugar syrup. Agar alone doesn't give a good texture.

I would like to share my recipe for making a meringue-like eggfree confection. My mixture doesn’t seem too different from pictures of whipped egg whites and sugar, and the end product, is light and crispy and bears an acceptable resemblance to meringues I’ve seen – you can decide for yourself from the photograph. (The meringues are pale gold because I used golden sugar).

I didn't take many pictures this time. My camera wasn't working properly and only the one above was acceptable to post. I will take and post more pictures sometime soon. So here are some photos of meringues from an earlier recipe producing similar results but involving a very complicated method. The recipe below produces a much stiffer foam than this, which you can pipe.

Crushed meringues for an Eton mess.

As vegan meringue recipes are hardly in abundance, I thought I would share mine, imperfect though it may be, and in the process, create a blog, as I have wanted to for quite a while but never gotten around to doing. As you can see, some of the meringues have cracked – is that acceptable with meringues? And sometimes they are still a bit chewy on the inside, but not always. I know some meringues are supposed to be chewy but aren’t the cookies supposed to be hard? Then, they are somewhat hollow, though not completely, and I think I read somewhere that meringues are not hollow. I don’t actually know if it even tastes like meringue, having eaten meringues only once or twice, when I was very young.

This recipe makes crisp meringues. It doesn't work too well as a meringue topping but you should be able to torch it or brown very quickly under a grill (broiler). An earlier version with more vegetable gum worked ok - it didn't collapse and was firm when cutting - but had an unpleasant, slippery mouthfeel. I'm still working on it and I will update the recipe if I have any success

Key ingredients in my recipe are soya protein isolate and vegetable gum. I’ve heard it is possible to make meringues with an enzymically treated soy protein called Versawhip but as this is not easily available, I hope my recipe will help those who don’t have access to it. I want to thank Jeanette Sutton and Dave Soleil whose marshmallow recipes inspired me, as they introduced me to using these ingredients to make a fluffy mixture, essential to meringues and marshmallows alike.

Please try the recipe, and post any comments and suggestions for improvements. Thanks.

Eggfree Meringues

Servings: Makes 12- 15 small meringues

1-1/4 tsp soya protein isolate powder (this should be at least 90% protein and preferably unflavoured)
2-1/2 tbsp water
6 tbsp caster (superfine) sugar or granulated sugar, finely ground in a blender 1 tsp soya protein isolate powder
3/8 tsp xanthan or guar gum
1/8 tsp cream of tartar or 1 tsp cider vinegar

An electric mixer (it would be too difficult to whip by hand but a hand-held mixer will suffice, which is what I used)

Preheat the oven to 110°C/230°F. Grease a large baking tray adequately. Place the sugar in a small bowl and stir in the guar or xanthan gum and 1 tsp soya protein powder. Set aside. Place the water in a mixing bowl and sprinkle over the 1-1/4 tsp soya protein powder. Whip at the highest speed on the dial (i.e. not a 'turbo' setting) until mixture has increases in volume considerably and becomes a dense white foam that forms small, soft peaks when the whisk is lifted.

Usually, as you whip, the mixture foams and the bubbles increase in quantity, and become smaller and are closer to each other; the mixture grows white and fluffy. This takes about 10 minutes, sometimes longer, so be patient.

Now, add the cream of tartar or vinegar and whip at high speed until the mixture thickens and forms slightly stiffer peaks. I have known the mixture to reach a stage where the bowl can be turned upside down and it doesn’t fall out. However, don’t try this unless you are sure it’s safe!

With the mixer running on medium speed, add a tablespoon of the sugar mixture. When the foam stiffens, increase the speed and add the remaining sugar in three or four batches, working quickly. As soon as the sugar is incorporated, add the next batch. Then, whip for no more than a minute till the mixture is thick and glossy and forms fairly stiff peaks when the whisk is lifted. Now, you can turn the bowl upside down!

Place heaped tablespoons of the mixture onto the prepared baking tray, or pipe 10-12 swirls. Bake for 1½ - 2 hrs until meringues are hard to the touch. They should also come off from the tray easily. Allow to cool before removing from the tray and serving. They will harden further on cooling.

Note on the ingredients

The key ingredients are soya protein isolate powder, xanthan or guar gum and icing (confectioner’s) sugar. Although the soya protein powder and the gums are not store cupboard staples, they should not be too difficult to find (generally available in health food stores and even some supermarkets). Though they might be expensive, they will go a long way as you only require a small quantity of each, even if making a larger batch. For those who don’t know this already, soya protein can be whipped with water into a dense and voluminous foam. However – as I far I know – it doesn’t form stiff peaks and for this you require the xanthan or guar gum. The other problem is that soya foam lacks the stability of egg white foam, so, even when you strengthen it with the gum, it collapses with the addition of sugar. After numerous failed attempts, I overcame the problem by mixing the gum with the sugar and adding this in small batches. If you are allergic to soya or do not wish to use it for some other reason, you could try using another protein isolate powder, such as rice, pea or hemp. They may or may not work, but for a good chance of success, ensure you use a powder with a high percentage of protein (about 90%). As for the sugar, I only had large crystalled Demerara sugar so I powdered it and the powder had the consistency of icing sugar. Caster (superfine) sugar also works quite well in this recipe.

If you cannot obtain either of the gums, you might want to try the method on this site of using a cornflour (cornstarch) mixture to stiffen the meringue (the instructions are under 'Questions and Answers'). I can’t say how well it might work as the instructions given are for egg whites.


  1. Hi orangold, I have made your meringue recipe and it is fantastic. Sorry for being so tardy getting round to making them.
    I piped the meringues on to a teflon liner placed on the baking tray and used the fan function on my stove and they cooked in under an hour.
    When they cooled I sandwiched some together with raspberry jam and the rest with chocolate icing (a little orange zest added would have elevated them to devine).
    So once again congratulations on developing a ground-breaking recipe for vegans - one more egg free indulgence we can enjoy.

  2. Eggs in your breakfast is the best option to get maximum protein for your regular eating.
    -green drink

  3. I've been beating soy protein isolated, with water, for the last 20 minutes (eletric cake mixer). It became nothing. All I got were supperficial bubbles; not even close to foam. After that I tried to add vinager and beat a little more (about five minutes). No change. After that I tried to add sugar and guar gum and it become totally flat (well, the few bubbles disapeared, not a dramatic change).
    I'm I lost in translation here? Please help me get what I'm doing wrong. I'll describe what I undestood about ingredients and mesures; can you tell me if it's right?
    *soya protein isolated: thin, yellow powder, usually used by athlets. The one I got is suposed to be 90%.
    *water: I used it cold, not chilling.
    *tsp = tea spoon (5ml)
    *tbsp = table spoon (15ml)
    I'm craving for meringues here. In fact, it's my third try, no sucess.
    Thanks a lot.

    1. VegVida, sorry I never replied to your comment. I have abandoned this blog for quite a while and just visited it today. if you ever read this, here are some suggestions:

      -If you are using a large mixer, you might want to double the quantity as sometimes I have found that if there is too little of the mixture, it doesn't whip properly.

      - Your measurements and ingredients are fine but maybe my recipe doesn't indicate the amounts clearly. Did you use 1 and a quarter teaspoons of soya protein powder and 2 and a half tablespoons of water? Too much soya protein prevents foam forming.

      -Also, if you are using a high-speed mixer, don't start at the maximum setting but increase it as the foam forms. I recall that once, using another mixture, I could not get it to whip at a high speed.

      -Another possibility which has helped me sometimes is to add the acid, vinegar or cream of tartar, right at the beginning.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. is there a difference between soya protein and soy protein??? ive never heard of soya....

    1. They are exactly the same. In some countries it is referred to as soya rather than soy.

  6. Thanks a lot !
    Thanks to you my successfull meringues are in the oven.

    To reproduce the gluing consistancy of the egg-white, I used a little (very little) xanthan at the beginning, before whipping and that works perfectly!
    It takes so little time to obtain the muss this way, and with the proper consistancy (like snow more than cloud...) - then no problem when adding the sugar (sucre en poudre as we say in french)

    My fist meringues without xanthane were OK for the taste but flat, flat, flat, not at all meringues

    Next step should be some french cheese-soufflé, as my fist attempt has been so sad whith the muss vanishing when introducing it in the paste... my hopes are in xanthan, now

    I wonder why I have not trust your blog at my first reading, it was so amazing ! I apologize, so many thanks to you.

    1. That's great. I too have been wanting to experiment with soufflé and other egg-white based desserts but I haven't made meringues for quite a while.

  7. Hi Krishna, Is it also possible to make a stiff peak Royal Icing using soy proteine, to decorate cake. Does your stiff peak dry hard and hold its shape? Thanks! Jamila

    1. I have not blogged here for a long time but in case you are following your comment still, I don't think you can make Royal icing since the mixture collapses after some time unless you bake it.