You might have noticed that I have a dessert category. And you might have thought to yourself, “a bean based dessert.. what the what? How can that possibly taste good?” And the answer is - to a large extent - aquafaba! (To be fair, there are also black bean brownies, which I haven’t attempted yet...)
Aquafaba is the liquid from a can of chickpeas, and it whips up into a fluffy meringue just like egg whites do. This means it’s just as versatile - think chocolate mousse, meringue cookies, lemon meringue pie - anything you would use egg whites for. And there are no raw eggs in it, which makes taste testing the batter not scary.
Of course, I had to tackle the most difficult of meringue recipes first - the macaron. I fell in love with these when we were in Paris (Ladurée is a must add to any foodie Paris itinerary). They’re small meringue and almond flour cookies with delicious filling, and they’re made in a huge range of flavors and colors. My husband’s grandmother used to say “One’s not enough, two is too many, have three”, and three of these is the perfect sweet treat. When I went vegan, I was sad to think I might not get to eat these anymore, so I was super excited when I found out these can stay on my menu. Bonus - they use almond flour, so they’re also gluten free!
boy, I could enjoy some macarons under this chandelier
Macarons aren’t the easiest thing to make, vegan or not, and this recipe took me a few tries to get right (thank goodness for already shelled pistachios). My first batch weren’t pretty at all (though they tasted damn good) because I bought the almond flour with the skins, which put black flecks all through the cookies. The batter was also much too thick, which made the cookie shells lumpy. You want a batter that’s just barely thick enough to hold it’s shape, but thin enough to smooth out as it settles.
The texture of the cookies improves in the fridge, so I’d recommend storing them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a least two hours (after you eat a few, naturally).
One note here on the filling - while it tasted amazing, I’m finding I don’t love vegan butter for buttercream frosting. It doesn’t seem to blend well and no matter how much I cream the butter, I still end up with little yellow dots, looking almost as though it’s curdled. If anyone else has or has solved this problem, let me know in the comments! I’m going to explore different fillings in future recipes as well, so eventually I’ll end up with a favorite I’m sure.
I really enjoyed making these vegan pistachio macarons and have a lot of ideas for flavors I’m excited to try, so expect lots more macaron recipes in future! After all, it is a dessert fit for a queen ;-) Hope you’ll give these a try, and definitely post any questions on the recipe or instructions in the comments.
Servings: Makes 15-20 macarons
Time: 4 hours, about 3 of which are unattended
- Liquid from one 15 oz can of chickpeas (aquafaba)
- 1 cup almond flour (make sure to get the superfine kind without the skins)
- ½ cup cane sugar (organic is vegan)
- ⅛ teaspoon cream of tartar
- ½ cup confectioners sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon green gel food coloring
- 2 tablespoons vegan butter
- ½ tablespoon coconut milk
- ⅓ cup confectioners sugar
- 3 tablespoons pistachio paste (make your own by grinding 3 tablespoons shelled pistachios in a spice grinder until it’s a paste.)
- ¼ teaspoon green gel food coloring
- Add the aquafaba to a saucepan and simmer over low heat for about 10 minutes, until reduced by a little more than half. You want to end up with ⅓ cup - pour into a liquid measuring cup periodically to measure as you go. It might smell a bit beany, but never fear - that will all disappear as it whips up. Set aside and let cool.
- Sift the almond flour and confectioners sugar together into a bowl - you want no lumps. I usually sift once and it’s fine, but you can sift 2-3 times to make certain.
- Add the aquafaba to a stand mixer fitted with the whisk and metal bowl.
- Add a pinch of salt and the cream of tartar to the stand mixer and whisk on high for about two minutes until foamy.
- Gradually add cane sugar while continuing to whisk, about five to ten more minutes, until stiff glossy peaks form.
This is about where you want it
- Add the food coloring and whip for about a minute longer until the color is uniform, scraping down the sides as needed. (Add more food coloring as you like for a darker green).
- Gently fold your flour/sugar mixture in with a spatula, about ⅓ at a time. This is a tricky part to get right - you are looking for the batter to be just thick enough to hold its shape when piped, but thin enough to smooth out as it settles. You can test this by spooning a bit of batter onto a plate and seeing if the small dot on the top from pulling away the spoon disappears. The mixture will thin as you fold in the dry ingredients, but you may also need to add a little bit of liquid - either extract if you’re flavoring that way, or just water if you’re not. Add the liquid ¼ teaspoon at a time (I had to add ¾ teaspoon of water, but humidity and the amount of dry mixture you’re left with after sifting will affect this).
About the texture you want
- This part takes some practice to get right, so be patient - getting the batter right is what makes these look so perfect.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Fill a piping bag and a large plain tip with the mixture and pipe into small rounds. My trick to get uniformly sized shells is to hold the piping bag at about a 90 degree angle just barely above the sheet pan and count “One one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand”. Hey, it works for me!
notice how the little dots on the tops of the cookies are beginning to settle
- Lift the sheet pan up and slam it down on the countertop a few times. This eliminates the air pockets and helps the “feet” form, and helps get rid of the peaks that are on the top from lifting the piping bag away.
- Leave the macaron shells to rest at least two hours until they form a bit of a shell - they’ll no longer be sticky to the touch. This helps avoid cracking during the cooking process.
- Preheat oven to 205 degrees F and bake each batch for 40 minutes. Check for doneness by lifting a shell off the parchment paper. It should release easily. If the bottom sticks and the insides ‘fall out’, continue to cook and check every 10 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and let shells cool thoroughly before removing from the sheet pan - about 30 more minutes to an hour.
- Repeat and bake the rest of the macarons if you have more.
- Add the vegan butter to the stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
- Cream the butter until smooth.
- Add the pistachio paste and coconut milk, continuing to mix.
- Slowly add the powdered sugar, scraping down the sides as needed. You should end up with a buttercream frosting texture.
- Add the green food coloring (add more if you’d like a darker green) and mix until a uniform color.
- Add to a piping bag with a wide tip.
- Pipe a dab of frosting into the center of a shell, leaving space around the edges. Then top with another shell, pressing gently so that the frosting pushes out almost to the edges, but not quite. You’re looking for the frosting to be visible between the two shells, but not coming out. Repeat until all the shells are used.
The interior texture of the cookies and the filling improves in the fridge, so I’d recommend refrigerating these for at least an hour before serving. These look super pretty laid on their sides, so a box or a dish with edges is the ideal presentation.
These will hold up quite well for a few days in the fridge, so don’t be afraid to make these ahead.
These make me want to throw a tea party - how about you? Where would you serve these? Do they sound like a good Saturday project? Let me know in the comments!
I bet you eat macarons for breakfast if you live here